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11 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate In February

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Sure, Valentine's Day gets all the commercial airtime and drugstore aisle displays come February, but we've rounded up plenty of other quirky holidays to celebrate on the other 27 days.

1. February 7: Bubble Gum Day

Celebrated annually on the first Friday of February, Bubble Gum Day proclaims itself a "FUNdraising Holiday." The occasion, which was started in 2006 by children’s book author Ruth Spiro, allows school children to chew gum—chastisement free—in exchange for 50 cents, which then gets donated to a charity of the school's choice. Since its inception, participation has spread to include libraries, children's museums, and even senior centers.

2. February 8: Laugh and Get Rich Day

It's not clear if the laughter is intended to result in vast fiscal gains or if the two activities are merely suggested as befitting one another with no causal relationship implied.

3. February 9: Man Day

The Sunday before Valentine's Day has been officially reserved as a time for the neglected men of the world to finally get some recognition.

4. February 11: Pro Sports Wives Day

And in continuing the trend of honoring beleaguered subsets of the population comes Pro Sports Wives Day, for the women who support the men who get paid millions to play a game. (There does not appear to be a Pro Sports Husbands Day, for what that's worth.)

5. February 13: Get A Different Name Day

On the 14th, the sentiment "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is all about the rose. The day before, however, is all about the other name. This is the annual opportunity for people burdened with silly or undesirable names to insist that they are addressed in some more pleasing way and expect their friends and colleagues to do so.

6. February 13: Madly in Love with Me Day

February 13 is also a great day to celebrate everything, name and otherwise, that you don't hate about yourself.  Conspicuously placed on the calendar, this is a day that makes literal the idea that you must love yourself before you can love another.

7. February 18: Single-Tasking Day

A day to do one, and only one, thing at a time.

8. February 20: Hoodie-Hoo Day

This is one for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. It's a low commitment holiday: All you have to do is go outside at exactly noon (local time) and yell "Hoodie-hoo." This, supposedly will chase off winter. And frankly, it's about time someone figured out how to do so.

9. February 22: World Sword Swallowers Day

While we're not saying practitioners of the ancient art shouldn't get their own holiday, it's not clear how this is any different from other days, when people who can swallow swords should do just that, and people who can't definitely should not.

10. February 23: Curling is Cool Day

Note: This isn't just Curling Day; this is Curling is Cool Day. This is not a day to make curling the punch line of jokes, but rather an opportunity to embrace the Olympic sport and find out what about it, other than the ice, is so cool.

11: February 28: National Tooth Fairy Day

Don't tell your kids that this is basically the same thing as Mother's Day and Father's Day.

For an even more exhaustive list of holidays, historical anniversaries and notable birthdays, check out Chase's Calendar of Events.



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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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