June 13, 2017

#05-054: November Potpourri

people in military uniforms--seemingly all Black and all male--march along a street in formation, carrying an American flag and various other flags, one bearing the name of a high school
Part of a Veterans Day parade

Note: Remembering those who served our country, the rights of "ugly" women, and the importance of sanitation and clean water.

Get Ready: Do you think it's okay for a woman to ask a man on a date, to propose marriage, and perform other so-called "male" roles?

Let's take a look at some miscellaneous holidays in November.


November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States. The origins of this holiday lie in the peace declared at the end of the First World War.

The "Central Powers"--comprised of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and others--were defeated by the "Allied Powers"--France, the British Empire, the Russian Empire, Japan, Italy, Portugal, the United States, and many others. The end-of-war treaty, called "the Armistice," took effect at 11 in the morning on November 11, 1918: the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."

This date is still called "Armistice Day" in many countries, as it was in the U.S. until 1954. The name was changed to "Veterans Day" to signal a changed emphasis from the end of the war to honoring all who had served in the armed forces. Interestingly, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president who signed the law changing the name, had been the top general in Europe during the Second World War.


A more lighthearted celebration is Sadie Hawkins Day, celebrated in the United States on November 15. This pseudo-holiday began in the comic strip called "Li'l Abner," about life in a mountain town called Dogpatch.

It seems that Sadie was "the homeliest gal in all them hills," and had waited many years for a suitor. At last, with his daughter still a spinster at age 35, her father, Hekzebiah Hawkins, declared a footrace in which all the town's eligible bachelors tried to outrun Sadie. John Jonston was the unlucky loser, and had to marry her. In subsequent years, the event was held again, and all single people of a certain age ran, the women capturing and marrying the men.

By 1939 this amusing story had caught on, and over 200 universities in America had "Sadie Hawkins" events, usually in the form of a dance to which girls were allowed to invite boys.


Finally, November 19 is World Toilet Day, an observance organized in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization (and now promoted by the United Nations) to promote proper sanitation. Well over half the world's population lives without "safely managed sanitation"; around 297,000 children under the age of five die every year from diseases caused by poor hygiene, poor sanitation, or unsafe drinking water. That's more than 800 every single day. In 2013 it was made an official international day by the United Nations.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. allied
  2. armed forces
  3. comprised of
  4. eligible
  5. footrace
  6. homeliest
  7. lighthearted
  8. pseudo
  9. sanitation
  10. treaty

  1. made up of; including
  2. plainest; least beautiful (without being ugly)
  3. available to marry
  4. humorous; fun
  5. fake
  6. joined together
  7. army, navy, air force, and so on
  8. disposal of sewage; broadly, health and cleanliness efforts
  9. a formal agreement between nations
  10. a running competition

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 13, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. g; 3. a; 4. c; 5. j; 6. b; 7. d; 8. e; 9. h; 10. i