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Independence Day 2021

Jun-30, 2021

A child holds a heart shaped pillow with an American flag design at the camera while standing in front of an American flag backdrop.

Light the fireworks and strike up the band, because it's America's birthday! Every year on July 4th, the United States celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the act which began the American Revolution. This year, July 4th is on a Sunday, which means we will have a 3-day weekend and a day off of work on Monday, July 5th. Independence Day is one of the most popular US holidays and is full of symbolism.

Independence Day in Pop Culture

  • Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942 movie): This classic film was one of many patriotic movies that came out of Hollywood during World War II. The movie is a fictionalized account of Broadway legend George M. Cohen, played by James Cagney, who is known for penning patriotic songs like "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Over There."
  • Independence Day (1996 movie): A classic popcorn action film, Independence Day stars Will Smith and other big-name stars who team up to fight off an alien invasion, culminating with a final battle on Independence Day.
  • Saturday in the Park (1972 song): The band Chicago penned this oldies radio hit about a whole neighborhood enjoying a beautiful day in the park on July 4th.
  • Captain America (comic books/movies): He isn't just the most patriotic superhero because of his name. Comic book character Steve Rogers was "born on the 4th of July," a concept made popular by George M. Cohen's song, "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy."

This Year's Independence Day Celebrations

Usually, Independence Day celebrations are huge events drawing large crowds. Due to social distancing rules, 2021 will be the second year in a row that the US does not celebrate with mass gatherings. But that does not mean that you won't enjoy the holiday. Smaller gatherings can be just as fun!

But what about the most famous aspect for July 4th festivities: the fireworks? Happily, many cities will still be hosting fireworks shows after sunset. Many of them will even been streamed over the internet or even broadcast on TV! Here are some of the most noteworthy displays for 2021.

  • Washington DC: The nation's capital will be broadcasting their firework display on PBS.
  • New York City: Much like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the department store Macy's has been hosting a spectacular fireworks show in the Big Apple for over 40 years. This year it will be broadcast live on NBC.
  • Nashville: Music City's "Let Freedom Sing!" event promises to be their biggest ever, with the most fireworks they've ever had and a performance from their symphony orchestra as well as country music stars. This event is live only but totally free!

Happy Independence Day!!!

Canada Day 2021

Jun-28, 2021

A baby sits on a blanket in the park waving a small Canadian flag

Let's celebrate Canada's birthday! On July 1st, we celebrate Canada Day. This national holiday gives everyone the day off to enjoy some lovely summer weather and show their national pride!

History of Canada Day

Canada was established on July 1st, 1867. Originally 3 separate British colonies, Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were combined to form the Dominion of Canada. In fact, July 1st was known as Dominion Day until 1983 when Canada became its own country.

In modern times, many of the British royal family have come to take part in Canada Day celebrations, even as recently as 2017 for the nation's 150th anniversary. As we discussed in our Victoria Day post, the relationship between Canada and Britain's governments remains a strong and friendly one.

Celebrating Canada Day

Canada Day is the country's biggest celebration. The government even provides money for smaller cities to host their own festivities. Most locals can attend some kind of parade or municipal event. Wear your best red and white outfits and go outside! Like most summer holidays, grilling and picnics are extremely popular choices. There are also a special ceremony across the country for new Canadian citizens and at night, the skies above Canada light up with fireworks.

Canada Day Today

This year, July 1st, 2021 will mark Canada's 154th anniversary. While almost all celebrations were virtual in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year there will be many more in-person festivities. There is also ongoing discussion as to the way in which Canada Day should be celebrated among Canada's indigenous and other minority groups. For many, the day does not hold any special significance or provide a reason to celebrate. Recent events have also inspired many Canadians not in these groups to agree and to let the day take a respectful tone.

Canada Day Resources for Kids

Happy Canada Day!

Father's Day 2021

Jun-16, 2021

A South Asian son, father, and grandfather play football in their backyard.

It's a day for the Dads! On Sunday, June 20th, we celebrate Father's Day. Just like Mother's Day, Father's Day is all about honoring the father figure in your life for everything he's done for you.

At Best Brains, we are very lucky to have so many awesome dads in our Family. We see you bringing the kids for their weekly classes, chatting with our teachers about their progress, and encouraging your kids daily to practice homework. Dads provide support and strength to our students whenever they need it. We're so proud of your involvement and care!

The History of Father's Day

You can't talk about the history of Father's Day without outlining the history of Mother's Day first. The United States has been celebrating Mother's Day officially since 1914. Like many American holidays, the tradition began after the Civil War ended as a way to unite the country again after its split. As Mother's Day became a custom, there was also a push to honor the country's dads as well. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd is largely credited with championing the idea of a day for fathers thanks to her experience being raised along with her siblings by their widower dad. Surprisingly, there were a lot of critics to the idea of Father's Day for decades, so much so that it did not become an officially recognized holiday until 1972. You could say then that Father's Day is actually a pretty modern holiday!

Father's Day in 2021

While Father's Day used to be celebrated by purchasing a stereotypical "dad gift" like a tie, grilling utensils or some kind of gadget, these days it has a lot more significance. What does it mean to be a dad? What are the responsibilities of fatherhood? These are challenging questions, and 21st century dads are taking that challenge on.

How you spend Father's Day should reflect your own experience as a dad. Are you the kind of guy who provides for everyone else and might get overlooked? Then this day is perfect for a dad gift or any kind of gift you like! You deserve something special for making everyone else in your family feel special. Maybe you're a person with strong bonds to the past and you value tradition. Honor those traditions with your kids to emphasize how important it really is to you. Maybe you still feel like a kid at heart yourself. Rewind time with your family for a day! What did you do for fun when you were your kids' ages? What movies did you watch, music did you listen to or games did you play? The child you were helped you to be the man that you are so share that journey with your own children.

However you choose to celebrate, we at Best Brains wish you a safe and happy Father's Day. We honor you for all that you do!

Juneteenth 2021

Jun-09, 2021

A father picks up his daughter while they both laugh and play in the park.

Photo Courtesy of Freepik

On Saturday, June 19th, 2021, we celebrate Juneteenth, while many organizations will be celebrating for the entire week leading up to Saturday. Juneteenth has been referred to as African-American Independence Day because it is the day when we celebrate the emancipation of slavery in the United States. While a popular holiday in Black culture, Juneteenth has entered the broader cultural consciousness over the past few years as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained support from people of all races as well as from people around the world.

The History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is short for "June Nineteenth." On that date in 1865, General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with Union troops to proclaim slavery had been abolished and to oversee the process of freeing African Americans from their bondage. Over 250,000 slaves were freed over the next few months, and the celebrations began! Originally called "Jubilee Day," June 19th would continue to be a major holiday in Texas from then on, becoming an official state holiday in 1980.

Today, almost all US states commemorate Juneteenth as a state holiday. Many of them embraced the holiday very recently. 2020 marked the largest Juneteenth celebrations yet with widespread media coverage and lots of social media engagement. Large scale Black Lives Matter protests in the months leading up to June 19th, 2020 put a spotlight on the continuing inequality faced by African Americans. To many, celebrating July 4th as the national holiday symbolizing freedom was not genuine, as it did not represent freedom for all. Juneteenth meant freedom without limitation and became the true Independence Day for those fighting for equality.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

What does a Juneteenth jubilee. look like? Given that Juneteenth began in the Lone Star State, most people celebrate with some good old fashioned Texas barbecue. There are rodeos, pageants to crown a Miss Juneteenth, and other organized events. Around the country there are picnics, firework displays, and delicious barbecues and neighborhood cook outs.

This year, we encourage all Best Brains families to acknowledge Juneteenth and to find a way to celebrate. If this isn't a holiday you normally celebrate, we have a few suggestions. This is a great occasion to support black owned businesses in your community and to wish them a happy Juneteenth. Encourage kids to participate in any organized events through their school, and to listen and support their peers who voices are not always heard. Look for open events in your area to see if your family can join in the jubilation. You can even provide financial support to organizations who promote black culture such as the NAACP or the Juneteenth Project.

In June of 2020, then Senator Kamala Harris introduced a bill to the Senate to make Juneteenth a national holiday. A year later she is the nation's first African American and first female Vice President. She represents a commitment to uplift minority voices and to continue to fight for freedom for all!

Happy Juneteenth!

Best Brains Salutes our Veterans | Memorial Day 2021

May-24, 2020

A female veteran sits with her daughter on a sofa reading a book together

For many US families, Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer. As a federal public holiday, most parents have the day off to take kids camping, host the first barbecue of the year or make a splash at the pool. Memorial Day is a day of national celebration which gives families extra free time to spend together.

At the heart of all this fun is a day of serious reflection and contemplation. While Veteran's Day, known around the world as Armistice Day, is a day to honor our living veterans, Memorial Day memorializes the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Memorial Day, we take time to celebrate those who are no longer with us but whose contributions protected and defended our country.

The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day has its origins after the American Civil War. Since the loss of so many soldiers affected families on both sides of the conflict, a national day of remembrance and mourning was promoted by living veterans and their families as one of many efforts to reunify the country culturally after the War has ended. Originally held on May 30th , this day was known as Decoration Day and the date itself was chosen so as not to commemorate any one battle's anniversary. While Decoration Day never became a national holiday itself, a surge in fallen soldiers after World Wars I and II gave the holiday fresh meaning. Now known as Memorial Day, Congress made the holiday an officially recognized federal holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day Today

Memorial Day weekend is often spent outside as it is the unofficial beginning of summer in the US. Between backyard barbecues, camping trips and organized parades, there are lots of ways to celebrate. And while we should take time to remember the sacrifices of those who lost their lives defending our country, we also should not forget that this sacrifice was made for our freedom. The freedom to enjoy a holiday, to spend time with our families, to choose what we want to do. So enjoy the day to its fullest!

How to Celebrate Memorial Day 2021

Victoria Day 2021

May-17, 2021

The nighttime sky filled with fireworks over a bridge

Do you feel that frost melting away? Of course you do! It's Victoria Day and that means backyard barbecues, planting your May flowers and cheering for fireworks under a starry night sky.

Victoria Day is named after Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire from 1837 to 1901. May 24th, the Queen's birthday, was a day of public celebration. Since she ruled for so long, generations had grown up loving the holiday. Additionally, Canadian history and culture are deeply entwined with the reign of Queen Victoria. For instance, several locations in Canada such as Victoria, BC, Alberta, and Prince Edward Island are all named after members of the royal family. Canadian parliament decided in 1901 that they would continue to celebrate this holiday to honor the contributions of the Queen to Canada and since the 1950's they have also used the day for birthday celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, even though she was born in April. Victoria Day is always celebrated the Monday on or before May 24th.

Some Canadians love that the holiday is associated with the constitutional monarchy and the system of government with the Queen as their figurehead. Others associate the holiday more closely with the beginning of Spring, since much of the country is still pretty cold until the end of May. For others, namely indigenous and First Nation peoples of Canada, Victoria Day isn't much cause for celebration. While the reign of Queen Victoria brought stability and prosperity to the official governance of Canada, this often came at the expense of indigenous Canadians. Britian was an empire and colonialism did remarkable damage to many, many people around the world. The province of Quebec also rejects the royal connotations of the holiday, preferring to call it National Patriots Day.

Many prominent Canadians backed a 2013 movement to change Victoria Day to include celebrating First People, who currently have no federal public holiday. While this movement ultimately failed, it does show that there are many in Canada who no longer connect to the original spirit of the holiday. Once Queen Elizabeth II, another long-reigning and much beloved monarch, passes away, Canadians may once again reevaluate the purpose of the holiday, as both women will no longer be around to be so honored.

Canadians will most likely always have a holiday on May 24th to commemorate the beginning of Spring. While the subject of the holiday may change with time, the spirit of hope, renewal and community will remain just as strong!