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Lucky Group of the Week

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Luck of the IrishEvery other week, we'll offer a special discount to a different group of flossers. If you don't qualify this time, don't worry a bit, because we'll most certainly get to you sooner or later. To kick things off, we're looking for people with Irish connections. Do you have ancestors from Dublin? Are you red-haired and freckle-faced? Do you use the word "wee" a lot? Does your last name begin with O'? Have you ever found a four-leaf clover? Is Lucky Charms your favorite cold cereal? (And if so, do you eat all the oat bits first and save the marshmallows for a huge sugar-buzz at the end of the bowl?)

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, feel free to comment below and let us know what your connection is to the Eire. Then mosey on over to the mental_floss store and enjoy 10 percent off almost everything! (Only bundled items are excluded, and they're already offered at bargain prices.) Use the coupon code "luckoftheirish" to save, but hurry; this offer ends Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 PM Eastern.

Enjoy the Irish facts that follow... and may St. Patrick always be at your side!

Lucky Group of the Week: The Irish!

  • The average adult citizen of Ireland consumes more than three times his or her weight in tea every year, more than any other nation on Earth.
     
  • When John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president in 1961, he placed his hand on a 19th-century Bible that his ancestors brought with them when they immigrated from Ireland. Both his mother and father were direct descendants of Irish immigrants. JFK became the first president to officially visit Ireland in June 1963.
     
  • In 1972, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" became the first single released by Paul McCartney's "new" band, Wings. The song naturally reached the top spot in Ireland, but was banned by all official U.K. radio outlets. Even still, the song broke into the British Top-20.
     
  • In August 2008, Irish mountain climber Gerard McDonnell became the poster boy for the phrase "fame is fleeting." He'd just become the first Irishman to scale K2, the world's second-tallest mountain. He was trapped and killed by an avalanche on his descent, just a few hours after reaching the summit.
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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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