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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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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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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10 Things You Might Not Know About Chinese New Year
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Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning February 16, China will welcome the Year of the Dog, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. THE HOLIDAY WAS ORIGINALLY MEANT TO SCARE OFF A MONSTER.

Nian at Chinese New Year
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As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A LOT OF FAMILIES USE IT AS MOTIVATION TO CLEAN THE HOUSE.

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While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. IT WILL PROMPT BILLIONS OF TRIPS.

Man waiting for a train.
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Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. IT INVOLVES A LOT OF SUPERSTITIONS.

Colorful pills and medications
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While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. SOME PEOPLE RENT BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS TO SOOTHE PARENTS.

Young Asian couple smiling
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In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. RED ENVELOPES ARE EVERYWHERE.

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An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. IT CAN CREATE RECORD LEVELS OF SMOG.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
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Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. BLACK CLOTHES ARE A BAD OMEN.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
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So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. IT LEADS TO PLANES BEING STUFFED FULL OF CHERRIES.

Bowl of cherries
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Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand—last year Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. PANDA EXPRESS IS HOPING IT'LL CATCH ON IN THE STATES.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

A version of this story originally ran in 2017.

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