Winter Olympic Games

The Winter Olympic Games (French: Jeux olympiques d’hiver) is a major international sporting event held once every four years for sports practised on snow and ice. The first Winter Olympics, the 1924 Winter Olympics, were held in Chamonix, France. The modern Olympic games were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Summer Games in Athens, Greece in 1896. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority.

The original five Winter Olympics sports (broken into nine disciplines) were bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing (consisting of the disciplines military patrol, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping), and skating (consisting of the disciplines figure skating and speed skating). The Games were held every four years from 1924 to 1936, interrupted in 1940 and 1944 by World War II, and resumed in 1948. Until 1992 the Winter and Summer Olympic Games were held in the same years, but in accordance with a 1986 decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to place the Summer and Winter Games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years, the next Winter Olympics after 1992 was in 1994.

The Winter Games have evolved since their inception. Sports and disciplines have been added and some of them, such as Alpine skiing, luge, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, skeleton, and snowboarding, have earned a permanent spot on the Olympic programme. Some others, including curling and bobsleigh, have been discontinued and later reintroduced; others have been permanently discontinued, such as military patrol, though the modern Winter Olympic sport of biathlon is descended from it. Still others, such as speed skiing, bandy and skijoring, were demonstration sports but never incorporated as Olympic sports. The rise of television as a global medium for communication enhanced the profile of the Games. It generated income via the sale of broadcast rights and advertising, which has become lucrative for the IOC. This allowed outside interests, such as television companies and corporate sponsors, to exert influence. The IOC has had to address numerous criticisms over the decades like internal scandals, the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Winter Olympians, as well as a political boycott of the Winter Olympics. Nations have used the Winter (as well as Summer) Games to proclaim the superiority of their political systems.

The Winter Olympics has been hosted on three continents by eleven different countries. The Games have been held in the United States four times (1932, 1960, 1980, 2002); in France three times (1924, 1968, 1992); and in Austria (1964, 1976), Canada (1988, 2010), Japan (1972, 1998), Italy (1956, 2006), Norway (1952, 1994), and Switzerland (1928, 1948) twice. Also, the Games have been held in Germany (1936), Yugoslavia (1984), and Russia (2014) once. The IOC has selected Pyeongchang, South Korea, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Beijing, China, to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. As of 2017 no city in the southern hemisphere had applied to host the cold-weather-dependent Winter Olympics, which are held in February at the height of the southern hemisphere summer.

As of 2017, twelve countries – Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States – have sent athletes to every Winter Olympic Games. Six of those – Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States – have earned medals at every Winter Olympic Games, and only one – the United States – has earned gold at each Games. Norway leads the all-time medal table.

 

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Republic Day (India)

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Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.

The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.

 

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New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day, also called simply New Year’s or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar.

In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named. As a date in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, New Year’s Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, which is still observed as such in the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church.

In present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar, New Year’s Day is probably the most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. Other global New Year’s Day traditions include making New Year’s resolutions and calling one’s friends and family.

Robert Koch

Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a German physician and microbiologist. As the founder of modern bacteriology, he identified the specific causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax and gave experimental support for the concept of infectious disease, which included experiments on humans. Koch created and improved laboratory technologies and techniques in the field of microbiology, and made key discoveries in public health. His research led to the creation of Koch’s postulates, a series of four generalized principles linking specific microorganisms to specific diseases that remain today the “gold standard” in medical microbiology. For his research on tuberculosis, Koch received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1905. The Robert Koch Institute is named in his honor.

 

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Homai Vyarawalla

Homai Vyarawalla may have caught some of the 20th century’s most prominent figures in her lens, but from the 1940s through the 1960s in New Delhi, she was a familiar sight herself. Biking to assignments with a sari sailing behind her and equipment bags on her shoulders, India’s first female photojournalist stood out among her male colleagues. But it was her electric images of India’s independence movement and candid shots of such people as the Dalai Lama, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. that earned Vyarawalla lasting recognition.

Born in Navsari, Gujarat in 1913, Vyarawalla spent much of her childhood on the road due to her father’s role in a traveling theater company. Landing in Bombay (now Mumbai), Vyarawalla began photographing day-to-day life in the city, eventually earning an art school degree and becoming a professional photographer.

In 1942, Vyarawalla secured a position at the British Information Services in New Delhi. There, she snapshotted the meeting where Congress members voted for the partition of India. Vyarawalla went on to document many important moments in the country’s journey to independence and chronicled everything from Gandhi’s cremation to the Dalai Lama’s entrance into India.

In 2010, Vyarawalla earned the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor. Today’s Doodle honors India’s “First Lady of the Lens” on what would have been her 104th birthday with a tapestry of Indian life and history drawn by guest Doodler and Mumbai artist Sameer Kulavoor. Vyarawalla is at the center.

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Begum Rokeya

Begum Rokeya was a pioneer in Bengali feminist thinking and writing. Born in 1880 in present-day Bangladesh, she became a persistent advocate for female education in her country, helping set a new precedent for the era. Today we celebrate her accomplishments on what would have been her 137th birthday.

Rokeya’s literary career spanned published essays, poems, short stories, and books, but her most well-known work is Sultana’s Dream, a science-fiction piece depicting a feminist utopia. She was one of the first Muslim women to express these progressive opinions and witty insights, championing equality in the treatment of men and women. Rokeya was a major advocate for women’s education, believing deeply that the disparity in available education for men and women was the root cause of inequality.

A few years after writing Sultana’s Dream, Rokeya established the first school for Bengali Muslim women in Calcutta, which remains a successful school for girls and women. Later she created the Muslim Women’s Association, developed to support women’s education and employment causes. Rokeya believed firmly in narrowing the gap in opportunities for men and women, and dedicated her entire life to the cause.

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Veronika Dudarova

Born in 1916, Dudarova spent her formative years studying piano and musicology in the company of some of Russia’s most renowned musical talents. In 1947, she graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, joining the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra as a junior conductor. She spent 13 years in that role before taking over as principal conductor in 1960. In 1991, Dudarova formed the Symphony Orchestra of Russia, which she led until 2003.

One of the very few female conductors in the world, Dudarova holds the Guinness World Record as the only woman to lead a major symphony orchestra for more than 50 years. During her career, she won the State Russian Music Award, was named the People’s Artist of the USSR, and even had a minor planet named after her.

On what would’ve been Dudarova’s 101st birthday, we honor the conductor’s dramatic style as she leads the Google letters in a passionate, homepage-worthy performance.

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Christmas Day

 

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Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ,observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night;  in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information.

Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid fourth century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25,  a date that was later adopted in the East. Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany. This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. Moreover, for Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, viewing a Nativity play, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

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