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16 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in March

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Before we dive into a calendar of daily celebrations, let's consider some of March's month-long events. It is Optimism Month and National Umbrella Month, which seem slightly at odds; National Peanut Month and National Frozen Food Month, for the low-brow foodies out there; and International Mirth Month and Humorists Are Artists Month, so you should be laughing appreciatively for the next 31 days. Here's what else you can celebrate, courtesy of Chase's Calendar of Events:

1. March 1: National Pig Day

"Pigs aren't really fat. They're Rubenesque," Mary Lynne Rave told the Virgin Island Daily News in 1980. Concerned about the poor pig's reputation, Rave and her sister Ellen Stanley had founded National Pig Day back in 1972. She told the paper that the purpose of Pig Day is "to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals."

Modern celebrations include porcine parades, promotions by the Minor League Baseball team, the IronPigs, and feats of pork, which is presumably not the pigs' favorite part.

2. March 2: Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's Birthday

The birthday of one of the most prolific and profound children's book authors has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, which encourages—what else?—reading books both Seussical and otherwise.

3. March 3: What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day

Hannah Keyser

We would have to lock their food up more securely.

4. March 4: International Pancake Day

Tradition has it that in an effort to use up all the cooking fat before the fasting of Lent began, a woman in Olney, England was frantically cooking up pancakes when she heard the church bells begin to ring. Eager to be on time, she took off running towards the church—with skillet and pancake still in hand.

This inspired a town-wide tradition and starting in 1445, the women of Olney, England would race to the church on the day before Lent began while carrying a pancake in a skillet. In 1950, a magazine photo tipped the residents of Liberal, Kansas off to the strange custom, and they decided to challenge the originators to a trans-Atlantic race. Every year since, the two towns have held races and compared times in an ongoing rivarly. These days, the event has grown to include various pancake cooking and eating contests and has spread beyond these two towns into a truly international celebration of the sweet, carby breakfast favorite.

5. March 7: Middle Name Pride Day

Stop feeling ashamed of your middle name, people who feel ashamed of their middle names!

6. March 8: National Proofreading Day

Copy editors, rejoice! A whole day to promote error-free writing—or at least, the finding of one's own errors.

7. March 10: Mario Day

Written in abbreviated form, this date reads Mar. 10. Or, as it appeared to a Mr. Mario Fascitelli: MARIO. Fascitelli decided this quirk of the calendar was deserving of a holiday for people to celebrate the Marios in their lives.

8. March 13: National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day

The thinking here is that we all break this taboo on the same day and then track the bad luck that follows. Apparently, even in dealing with cosmic evil there is strength in numbers.

9. March 14: Pi Day

A day to celebrate the mathematical constant that starts 3.14, which represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Or, since that's no fun at all, a day to eat pie. If you're looking for other ways to celebrate, we have an irrationally high number of Pi items in the mental_floss store.

10. March 15: Ides of March

Prior to 44 BC, the Ides of March just meant March 15, according to the Roman method of measuring months by counting down from three points, with the ides as the middle marker. But then Julius Caesar had to go get stabbed on the floor of the senate by a group of conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius, having not heeded a soothsayer's warning that the day would bring him harm. Shakespeare immortalized this unheralded message to "beware the Ides of March" in his play, Julius Caesar.

11. March 18: Awkward Moment Day

You can start by wishing complete strangers a "happy awkward moment day."

12. March 20: Proposal Day

This biannual event is timed according to the vernal and autumnal equinox. The holiday offers "an opportunity to raise the subject of marriage proposals in a light-hearted and non-threatening manner." The official website goes on to say "the holiday helps the single who is seeking marriage in the relationship avoid unknowingly spending years more searching for a ring within a relationship that does not present that opportunity now and is not ever likely to present it in the future." Because everyone knows that open and honest communication about the future of a romantic relationship can only take place under the auspices of a nationally-recognized holiday.

13. March 21: National Puppy Day

Founded in 2006, Puppy Day encourages people to not only ogle adorable puppies—although certainly that too—but also to consider adopting a puppy from the pound and avoid puppy mills or pet stores.

14. March 22: National Goof-Off Day

Because nothing says good-natured silliness like confining it to a specific day.

15. March 29: Earth Hour

A worldwide grass-roots movement to promote conservation and bring attention to climate change, Earth Hour encourages participants to turn off all non-essential lights for one hour. The event, which is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature, began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia but has since spread to over 4000 cities around the world. This year, the switch off will occur from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.

16. March 31: National "She's Funny That Way" Day

A whole day dedicated to admitting the humorous nature of women? That's not marginalizing at all!

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

All images courtesy of ThinkStock unless otherwise noted.


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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Here Are the Best and Worst Days for Christmas Travel
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Flight delays are always a hassle, but the holidays add an extra layer of stress. No one wants to be stuck at the airport while their family is digging into Christmas dinner. And even if you fly long before the holiday itself, airports are always more hectic during the holiday season. Between the high volume of travelers and the whims of winter weather, getting off the ground doesn’t necessarily feel like a given when you leave for the airport.

But not all airports and days are equally prone to flight issues, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation data from the last five years, as analyzed by the electric supply company Elite Fixtures, which previously analyzed the worst airports for Thanksgiving travel.

A green chart lists travel delays and flight cancellation statistics by date.
Elite Fixtures

On average, you’re less likely to be delayed if you’re traveling the week before Christmas or on the holiday itself, the data shows. December 25 has actually had the lowest percentage (18 percent) of delayed flights over the last five years, giving you a good excuse if you want to flee to the airport directly after your family’s holiday meal. Traveling December 18 and 19 is also a good idea, since only 26 percent of flights are typically delayed on those days.

A red chart details travel delay and cancellation statistics by date.
Elite Fixtures

Beware the 22nd and 23rd of December, though. On those days, an average of 32 percent and 34 percent of flights get delayed, respectively. The few days after Christmas are also likely to stick you with an annoying delay—33 and 34 percent of flights are delayed on the 26th and 27th.

A green-and-gray U.S. map highlights the 10 best airports for holiday travel with plane icons.
Elite Fixtures

Airlines don’t encounter flight difficulties in equal measure across all airports, though. If you’re flying through one of the airports above, congratulations! The likelihood of getting delayed is less than at the Houston or Oakland airports, both hubs with the highest rates of holiday flight delays in the U.S.

Unfortunately, no matter what day you fly and where you fly from, there's no way to really predict whether your flight will leave on time. You'll just have to hope that Santa brings you the seamless holiday travel experience you put on your Christmas list.

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