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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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Big Questions
Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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