Here's How Other Countries Celebrate Major National Holidays
As Americans prepare to shoot off fireworks on the Fourth of July, let's take a look at how other nations celebrate their holiday equivalents.
Tonight, millions of Americans will light up the barbecue, set off pyrotechnics, and no doubt recite the greatest speech ever delivered by a sitting American president:
That said, the United States is far from the only country to celebrate its national holiday with food and fireworks.
Paris will be aglow on July 14 as the French commemorate the 225th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. Highlights of La Fête Nationale ("Bastille Day" to the rest of us) include fireworks above the Trocadéro and a 134-year-old military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Bastille Day, like the Fourth of July, is one of many national holidays commemorating a revolution or unification.
Yet not all national holidays celebrate a nation's founding. For example, citizens of Thailand celebrate December 5th, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The date is so revered that clashing factions last year declared a ceasefire in observance. The king, now 87, delivers an annual birthday address and is honored with fireworks, parades, and military displays.
Although citizens of Portugal observe April 25th in remembrance of the 1974 Carnation Revolution that deposed the Estado Novo regime, their official national holiday is Portugal Day on June 10th. The date marks the anniversary of beloved poet Luís de Camões' death and is celebrated because his date of birth is unknown. Portugal Day is a celebration of Portuguese culture both in the Iberian nation as well as for emigres around the world.
Last year, Max Fisher over at Vox created a map of the world detailing the nature of each nation's national holiday. He noted that, since many countries are former European colonies, the majority of these holidays celebrate a form of national independence. These include most African and South American nations, as well as others like India (Independence Day on August 15th), Sweden (National Day on June 6th), and Mexico (which celebrates its independence on September 16th and not Cinco De Mayo, no matter how much drunk undergrads argue otherwise).
Two notable nations don't actually celebrate an official national holiday: Denmark and the United Kingdom. Fisher recalls an old joke: The UK doesn't need a national holiday because it's directly responsible for those of so many other countries. As for Denmark, let's just say that every day is a national holiday when you enjoy the highest quality of life in the world.
Photo credit: Sergii Rudiuk / Shutterstock
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
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