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20 Offbeat Holidays and Anniversaries to Celebrate in March

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This year presents a month of March packed to the gills with traditional holidays: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, Passover: Night Two. Luckily our gills have extra room for all the unusual holidays and memorable anniversaries March has to offer as well.

1. March 1: National Peanut Butter Lovers Day


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If you love peanut butter, today is the day to proudly polish off your PB-based sandwich of choice. Reflect on all of the amazing qualities of peanut butter, from its delicious taste to its fantastic gum-removing capabilities. If that’s not enough, there’s even a year-round website for lovers of the legume-based spread.

2. March 1: 52nd Anniversary of the Peace Corps


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A volunteer army intended to combat the evils of Cold War communism with kindness, the Peace Corps took its first steps when President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order on this day in 1961. At the time he was only requesting a trial mission, but the Peace Corps has since become a worldwide humanitarian institution.

3. March 2: National Old Stuff Day

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Sorry hoarders, this holiday does not actually honor the person with the most (old) stuff. Rather, National Old Stuff Day encourages its observers to take a moment to recognize the same old stuff you do every day, and think about how you can break out of these stale routines. So seize the day, because tomorrow may just be more of the same old, same old.

4. March 3: National Anthem Day


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By the dawn’s early light, we do believe the United States adopted The Star Spangled Banner as its national anthem on this very day. Francis Scott Key wrote the famous words in his 1814 poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which would later be set to a popular British standard tune. Although recognized over time by various American institutions, the song did not become the official anthem until Congress passed a resolution making it so in 1931.

5. March 4: Casimir Pulaski Day


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The name may sound familiar to fans of indie soft-rocker Sufjan Stevens, but Casimir Pulaski Day is in fact a real Illinois holiday. Observed on the first Monday in March, CPD honors Revolutionary – and Polish – officer Casimir Pulaski. He died in battle, never having become a citizen of the country for which he fought. In 2009, President Obama signed a joint resolution granting him posthumous citizenship 230 years later. (New York City also celebrates Pulaski, but they do it on October 11.)

6. March 5: Cinco de Marcho


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Last year, one of our readers tipped us off to a new holiday called Cinco de Marcho. The 12 Days of Cinco de Marcho commence on the fifth of March, followed with a rigorous training regimen by observers to prepare their livers for St. Patrick’s Day. For games and activities, check out the official site. For your inevitable 12-day-long hangover, aspirin or ibuprofen should help.

7. March 7: Alexander Graham Bell Day


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One hundred thirty-seven years ago to the day, American inventor Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for a little invention called “the telephone.” He was only 29 years old at the time. Instead of spending the day asking yourself what meaningful contribution you made to society before the age of 30, fill your heart with thankfulness because without Graham Bell there wouldn’t be text messages.

8. March 9: National Panic Day


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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy enthusiasts may struggle to fully embrace this holiday, but this March 9th event encourages you to indulge all of your deepest fears and let loose a rampage of unbridled hysteria. Observational practices may include—but are certainly not limited to—tearing out one’s hair, standing in public spaces and shrieking like a banshee, sobbing uncontrollably, or finally breaking ground on that underground bunker you have always dreamed of building.

9. March 12: National Alfred Hitchcock Day


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Did you know Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for Best Director? Today, regale your friends and family with your encyclopedic knowledge of Hitchcock trivia, or learn some new facts. May we suggest a movie marathon for the evening activity? If you dare…

10. March 12: Katie Fisher Day

Started this year by comedian Matt Fisher in memory of his sister Katie, Katie Fisher Day asks observers to select a person they love, bake cookies, and mail said cookies to said loved one. Sweet message, sweet reward. We're really hoping this new offbeat holiday sticks around!

11. March 13: 232nd Anniversary of the Discovery of Uranus


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The most unfortunately named planet had the good fortune to be discovered by Sir William Herschel on this day in 1781. The world almost missed out on one of the best astronomical puns, as Herschel initially misreported his finding as a common comet. A few other earlier scientists are believed to have observed Uranus prior to Herschel’s discovery, but because he was the one who notified the Astronomer Royal, Herschel gets all the credit for Uranus. We hope you giggled as much reading this paragraph as we did writing it.

12. March 14: National Pi Day


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Don’t let the sound of the name fool you, 3/14 does not commemorate the sweet, baked circuitous treat. However, it is circuitous-related. It is the official day of the Greek letter symbolizing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, pi, also known as 3.14159265359…

13. March 15: The Ides of March


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Or, roughly, the 2057th anniversary of Julius Caesar’s assassination by Brutus & Co. One of the most famous Roman emperors received the ultimate backstabbing from his political contemporaries who felt he had gotten a little too big for his britches—or in his case, his toga. The word “ides” derives from the Latin word idus, a time word that indicates “middle of the month.” In the case of March, May, July, and October, this meant the 15th day. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you know that it’s best to beware on this day.

14. March 16: Everything You Do Is Right Day


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Yes, that’s correct. We couldn’t agree more.

15. March 20: Extraterrestrial Abductions Day


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There’s no reason to believe that there will be an unusual proliferation of Unidentified Flying Objects on this out-of-this-world holiday. At least that’s what Big Brother wants you to believe…

16. March 22: 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ First Album


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Only 50 years ago did the Fab Four embark on their career that would arguably change music forever. Not necessarily their most famous album, Please Please Me still featured such classics as I Saw Her Standing There and Love Me Do. The album was so popular in the British Isles that it topped the charts for 30 consecutive weeks only to be bumped from the top spot by another Beatles album.

17. March 23: National Puppy Day


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You never need an excuse to spend all day long watching adorable young pups playing, but today it is your nationally mandated duty. If merely observing is not enough for you, go to the official website to vote for America’s Most Beautiful Puppy, consider donating to your local animal shelter, or just take the plunge and adopt one! We strongly advise first consulting your partner, parent, or roommate on that last option.

18. March 25: 150th Anniversary of the U.S. Medal of Honor


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Though created in 1861, the highest military honor the United States has to offer made its official debut in 1863 when the United States Department of War awarded it to Union Army soldier Jacob Parrott. Since then, more than 3400 Medals of Honor have been presented to individuals across all divisions of the military.

19. March 25: International Waffle Day


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A tradition that originated in Sweden, and should not be confused with America’s “National Waffle Day” in August, International Waffle Day basically encourages the consumption of all things bready and waffled. The world holiday came out of a religious Swedish holiday called Våffeldagen, which basically means “Our Lady’s Day” or at least so the Internet tells us. To celebrate this day, Swedish families would make waffles. One day, someone had the brilliant idea to divide into two holidays and conquer the world. We can all agree everyone won that day.

20. March 31: Eiffel Tower Day


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One of the world’s most famous “towers” was dedicated to the city of Paris on this day in 1889. Named for its designer, Gustav Eiffel, the structure was intended to commemorate the French Revolution. This Parisian landmark isn’t the only famous structure with Eiffel’s paw prints all over it. He also helped design the framework of New York’s own Statue of Liberty.

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12 Things Called ‘French’ In English and Whether They're Actually French
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Happy Bastille Day! To celebrate this French holiday, let’s take a look at some of the things we call "French" in English that may not be French at all.

1. FRENCH TOAST

They don’t eat French toast in France. There, it’s called pain perdu ("lost bread," because it’s what you do with stale bread) or pain doré (golden bread). In the 17th century French toast was a term used for any kind of bread soaked and then griddled: In a 1660 citation, it refers to bread soaked in wine with sugar and orange and then cooked.

2. FRENCH VANILLA

Vanilla is a bean from a tropical plant not grown in France, so what’s so French about French vanilla? French vanilla was originally not a term for a type of vanilla, but a type of vanilla ice cream, one made using a French technique with an eggy, custard base. It’s since detached from ice cream and become a flavor with a certain rich profile.

3. FRENCH DRESSING

Originally the phrase French dressing referred to the type of dressing people might actually eat in France: oil, vinegar, herbs, maybe a little mustard. But somehow during the early 20th century it came to be the name for a pinkish-red, ketchup-added version that’s totally American.

4. FRENCH PRESS

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In France, the French press coffeemaker, a pot for steeping coffee grounds with a plunger for filtering them out, is called a cafetière à piston or just a bodum after the most common brand. It may have been invented in France, but the first patent for one was taken out by an Italian in 1929. The style of coffee became popular in France in the 1950s, and was later referred to by American journalists as "French-press style coffee."

5. FRENCH KISS

The term French kiss, for kissing with tongue, came into English during World War I when soldiers brought the phrase—and perhaps the kissing style—back from the war with them. French had long been used as a common adjective for various naughty, sexually explicit things like French letters (condoms), French postcards (naked pictures), and French pox (VD). In French, to kiss with the tongue is rouler un patin, “roll a skate” (having to do with gliding?), but in Québec they do say frencher.

6. FRENCH HORN

In French, a French horn is a cor d’harmonie or just cor, a name given to the looping, tubed hunting horns that were made in France in the 17th century. French became to the way to distinguish it from other horn types, like the German or Viennese horn, which had different types of tubes and valves.

7. FRENCH FRIES

The phrase French fries evolved in North America at the end of the 19th century out of the longer “French fried potatoes.” The dish is said to be more properly Belgian than French, but it was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson after he brought a recipe back from France. In French they are simply pommes frites, fried potatoes.

8. FRENCH MANICURE

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The French manicure, a pinkish, nude nail with a bright, whitened tip, was apparently invented in Hollywood in the 1970s. It began to be called a French manicure after the look made it to fashion runways. The style isn’t as popular in France, but women there do tend toward a groomed look with a natural color. In France, the term has been borrowed in from English: It's called la French manucure.

9. FRENCH BRAID

The term French braid (or French plait in British English) has been around since the 1870s, but the braid style itself, where hair is gathered gradually from the sides of the head over the course of braiding, has been around for thousands of years, according to archeological artifacts. It may have become associated with France simply for being seen as high fashion and French being equated with stylishness. In French, they also call this specific style of braid a French braid, or tresse française.

10. FRENCH TWIST

The vertically rolled and tucked French twist hairdo also came to be in the 19th century, and was also associated with French high fashion. In French it is called a chignon banane for its long, vertical shape.

11. FRENCH MAID

Housemaids in 19th-century France did wear black and white uniforms—though they were not quite as skimpy as the French maid costumes you see today. The French maid became a trope comic character in theater and opera, and the costume, along with other titillating characteristics, came to define what we now think of as the classic French maid.

12. FRENCH BREAD

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These days French bread has come to stand for any white bread with a vaguely baguette-like shape, whether or not it has a traditional, crusty exterior. It has been used as a term in English as far back as the 15th century to distinguish it from other, coarser types of bread.

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The Chemistry of Fireworks and Sparklers
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Independence Day is upon us, and that means grilling, s’mores, and plenty of good old-fashioned explosions. In other words: lots and lots of chemistry. For a breakdown of exactly how our favorite pyrotechnics work, check out the videos below from the American Chemical Society.

As a professor emeritus at Washington College, John Conkling may have one of the coolest jobs ever: experimenting with explosive chemicals and teaching his students to do the same. As Conkling explains in the video above, every explosion in a fireworks display is the result of two separate chemical reactions: one to launch the device into the air, and another that produces all those ooh- and ahh-inspiring sparkles.

The sparkles themselves are tiny flecks of metal, burning up in midair. Getting them to explode is easy, Conkling says. But getting them to explode blue? That’s a science

While sparklers may look like miniature, handheld fireworks, the mechanics are quite different. They do rely on fuel and oxidation like fireworks, but rather than just going off in midair, those reactions have to occur safely on a metal stick. Sparklers’ reactive chemicals are mixed with a binder that keeps the fire in place and slows it down, so you can enjoy your tiny explosions for just a little longer.

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