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What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.

But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:

>> Read more trending news 

1. When did Earth Day start?

The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.

"That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.

"It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."

Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.

>> Target’s Earth Day car seat recycling program offers 20 percent off new car seat, stroller

2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?

This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.

"Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.

The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."

Read more here.

>> Antarctica's ice retreating 5 times faster than normal, study reveals

3. How are people celebrating?

In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.

Read more here.

4. What are businesses doing?

Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall. 

>> Click here to watch

“It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”

Read more about the doodle here.

Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and apple.com through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."

In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

Read more here.

>> Tips for celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom

5. How can I get involved?

There are multiple ways to get into the Earth Day spirit, from participating in a local event to changing your bills from paper to paperless. Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network:

  • Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.

  • Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.

  • Pick up trash at a local park or beach.

  • Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.

5 ways to celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

Rejoice, PB&J lovers: Now you have the perfect excuse to enjoy your favorite treat.

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate:

>> Read more trending news 

1. Make a PB&J. (Yes, this one is pretty obvious.) According to the New York Daily News, a 2016 survey by Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter found that the average American will eat nearly 3,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during his or her lifetime. Read more here.

2. Try something a little more adventurous. Is the traditional PB&J not really your thing? If you’re feeling brave, check out this recipe for Spicy Peanut Butter & Jelly Ramen:

3. Eat like the “King.” According to Elaine Dundy's book "Elvis and Gladys," Elvis Presley would eat "sandwich after sandwich of his favorite – peanut butter, sliced bananas and crisp bacon." Get the book here. 

4. Bake a cake. HuffPost raves about the School-Lunch Cake from Caroline Wright’s “Cake Magic!” cookbook. Check out the recipe here.

5. Help us settle the great debate. Which style of peanut butter better – crunchy or creamy? "Women and children prefer creamy, while most men opt for chunky," the National Peanut Board says on its website. There's also a geographic divide: East Coast residents tend to like smooth peanut butter, while West Coasters like theirs crunchy, according to the site.

What do you think? Weigh in with our poll:

WATCH: Pope Francis delivers Easter message after Mass at the Vatican

Pope Francis delivered his annual Easter message Sunday after leading Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

>> Watch the Mass here

>> PHOTOS: Pope Francis leads Easter Mass at the Vatican

In his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, the pope asked for prayers for Syria; the Holy Land, Yemen and the Middle East; Africa; North and South Korea; Ukraine; and Venezuela.

>> Click here to watch

>> What is Easter Monday and how is it celebrated?

The pope also prayed for children who “grow up without hope, lacking education and health care” and elderly people “who are cast off by a selfish culture,” according to Catholic news site Crux.

>> Read more trending news 

See more at the Vatican's website here.

April Fools' Day 2018: See this year's top pranks

This year, April Fools’ Day is sharing the spotlight with Easter, but there are still plenty of pranks to be found.

>> Read more trending news 

Along with Easter greetings, companies have been hard at work creating their April Fools’ Day pranks. 

Here is a roundup of the best of them. 

Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.

But what’s so good about that?

>> Read more trending news

One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.

According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.

And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.

Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”

“That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.

A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”

Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example, 

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."

And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.

In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.

Read more at Slate.com

Photos: St. Patrick's Day 2018

Feeling tired? Take a nap for National Napping Day

If you still haven't bounced back from this weekend's springing forward, here's some good news: Monday is National Napping Day.

 

>> Read more trending stories  

 

According to Days of the Year, the unofficial sleeping holiday gives anyone who is still feeling the effects of losing an hour of sleep Sunday morning the opportunity to get some quick shut-eye during a catnap.

 

>>Related: Who's to blame for daylight saving time? It's not who you were taught 

 

Dr. William Anthony, a Boston University professor, came up with National Napping Day in 1999, according to Huffington Post.

 

He wanted to encourage people to make naps a part of everyone’s lives to help them be healthy and productive.

 

Anthony said they chose the Monday after daylight saving time begins because people were already in nap mode after losing that hour of sleep, Shape reported.

 

March 12 also marks National Girl Scout Day and National Plant a Flower Day, according to National Day Calendar.

What is a shamrock and what does it have to do with St. Patrick's Day?

The shamrock is the most iconic symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, but what do you really know about the three-leafed plant you’ll probably see adorned on all things green on March 17?

>> St. Patrick's Day 2017: How did it get started; why corned beef and cabbage; who is Patrick?

What is the shamrock?

Merriam-Webster defines a shamrock as “a small plant with three leaves on each stem that is the national symbol of Ireland”—not to be confused with the lucky four-leaf clover.

The yellow-flowered Old World clover, according to the dictionary, is often regarded as the “true” shamrock.

History of the shamrock

Its history dates back to ancient Ireland when the shamrock, also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, represented the rebirth of spring.

During the 1798 Irish Rebellion when the English began to conquer Irish land and make laws against their language and practice of Catholicism, wearing the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism, according to History.com.

But contrary to popular belief, Ireland’s national symbol isn’t the shamrock. It’s actually the harp, which you’ll find on Irish coins, state seals and the presidential flag.

And while green is the color most associated with Ireland today—arguably due to both the shamrock and Ireland’s lush nature—the national color of origin was actually a shade of blue used by the Order of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Why is the shamrock linked to St. Patrick’s Day?

According to St. Patrick's Day lore, St. Patrick used the leaves of a shamrock as a metaphor for the holy trinity. Each leaf represented either the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit.

Many representations of St. Patrick depict the patron saint with shamrocks tied to his robes, the Sun reported.

Others show him in pictures alongside shamrocks.

According to academic folklorist Jack Santino, some pictures of St. Patrick even present him driving the snakes out of Ireland—a popular, debunked legend associated with the Christian figure—with a cross in one hand and a spring of shamrocks in the other.

Learn more about the holiday, its symbols, history and legends.

Valentine’s Day: This amazing love story begins with a blind date and wedding days later

LaNelle and Perry Holland’s love story begins with a blind date on a winter evening in 1968.

A mutual friend invited LaNelle to join him in a gathering at Perry’s house in Kennesaw, Georgia. By the time LaNelle arrived, the roads were slick with ice. It was too dangerous to drive anywhere.

>> Read more trending news 

The Hollands’ first date never left a living room couch.

Instantly smitten, LaNelle and Perry stayed up through the night talking about music, politics, sports (they were both passionate Georgia Tech football fans).

Just a few days later, Perry proposed. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Sometimes people wait years, even decades, to find The One. For this lucky couple now in their early 70s, they were struck by Cupid’s arrow on a quiet winter evening and then tied the knot after knowing each other just two weeks.

What they didn’t know back in 1968 is how they would grow together and develop a passion for teaching and caring for children in their community. They would speak up, even march for social justice.

Read more about their amazing love story and how they would build a family beyond their own here at myajc.com. 

School under fire for rule telling students they can't say 'no' when asked to dance

A Utah school is facing backlash after reportedly telling sixth-grade students that they must accept requests to dance at the upcoming Valentine’s Day dance.

>> Watch the news report here

According to KSTU, Natalie Richard was convinced her daughter had misunderstood Kanesville Elementary School’s rule when she came home saying that she could not refuse if a boy asked her to dance. However, after speaking with her daughter’s teacher, Richard realized the sixth-grade girls had in fact been told they couldn’t say “no.”

>> Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

“The teacher said she can’t. She has to say yes. She has to accept, and I said, ‘Excuse me?’” Richard recalled of hearing the news, after which she took the issue up with the principal. “He basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time, and they’ve never had any concern before.”

>> On Rare.us: School blocks single mom from attending father-daughter dance

A spokesperson for Weber School District confirmed the rule’s existence but explained that it’s intended to teach the students to be inclusive.

“Please be respectful, be polite. We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance,” Lane Findlay said, adding that the students will fill out cards before the voluntary dance with the names of five people they want to dance with and can speak up if they feel uncomfortable with anyone who has requested to dance with them. “If there is an issue, if there’s students that are uncomfortable or have a problem with another student, I mean, that’s certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents.”

>> Read more trending news 

Richard, however, believes rejection is a learning experience and a part of life. She said there are other ways to educate the children on being tolerant and accepting that don’t include forcing girls into unwanted dances with boys.

“[The rule] sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say ‘yes’; [it] sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no,'” she said. “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying, ‘I can’t say “no” to a boy.’ That’s the message kids are getting.”

Read more here.

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