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Public Domain/IStock/Chloe Effron
Public Domain/IStock/Chloe Effron

10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in March

Public Domain/IStock/Chloe Effron
Public Domain/IStock/Chloe Effron

Some of our favorite historical figures were born in the month of March. We couldn't possibly name them all, but here are just a handful whose lives we'll be celebrating. 

1. MARCH 2, 1904: THEODOR GEISEL (A.K.A. DR. SEUSS)

As a student at Dartmouth during Prohibition, Geisel was caught hosting a gin-soaked get-together and was banned from the school's humor magazine, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern.To keep publishing he used his middle name as a pen name: "Seuss." The "Dr." came later.

2. MARCH 3, 1911: JEAN HARLOW

Before Harlow became a leading lady and world famous sex symbol in the '30s, she did what any aspiring actor does: She worked as an extra. A teenaged Harlow and her mother were background characters in a few silent films in the late 1920s.

3. MARCH 6, 1806: ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

The poetic meter in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" might have originated with Browning's poem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship." Poe dedicated The Raven and Other Poems to her, “with the most enthusiastic admiration and with the most sincere esteem."

4. MARCH 14, 1879: ALBERT EINSTEIN

In 1907, Einstein had what he called the “happiest thought of my life.” It wasn't what you might expect—it was about a man falling from a building. Einstein realized that a person falling alongside a ball would not be able to recognize the effects of gravity on the ball. In other words, it’s all relative. This connection between gravity and acceleration became known as the equivalence principle.

5. MARCH 19, 1894: MOMS MABLEY

Moms Mabley and Pearl Bailey via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Mabley was the first woman comedian to be featured at Harlem's famous Apollo Theater, and went on to appear on its stage more than any other performer in history.

6. MARCH 20, 1928: FRED ROGERS

Rogers wasn't just beloved by humans; Koko the gorilla was also a huge fan. The Stanford-educated Great Ape loved Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and when Rogers took a trip to meet her, she not only embraced the television icon, but followed standard protocol based on what she'd seen on the show: she took his shoes off.

7. MARCH 21, 1685: JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH

Bach and fellow German composer George Frideric Handel were born in the same year and share yet another (far less fun) biographical note: Both were operated on rather unsuccessfully by early—and rather dubious—oculist, John Taylor. He reportedly is to blame for rendering both men blind.

8. MARCH 24, 1874: HARRY HOUDINI

Houdini was famous for debunking mystics, but he held out some hope that the living could communicate with the dead. So he and his wife Bess made a pact that whoever died first would try to reach out from beyond the grave using a secret code derived from their private stage language. Houdini died first, and Bess held séances until 1936—but (barring one time, when a medium claimed to have received the message "Rosabelle- answer- tell-pray, answer- look- tell- answer, answer- tell," which spelled out “BELIEVE” in Houdini and Bess's private stage language and was quickly dismissed as a hoax) he never came through.

9. MARCH 25, 1925: FLANNERY O'CONNOR

ajourneyroundmyskull, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The author had a particular affinity for birds and in particular, peacocks. She owned and raised dozens of them, sending their discarded feathers to friends in the mail, and caring for her flock up until her death in 1964 at age 39.

10. MARCH 31, 1929: LIZ CLAIBORNE

In 1986, Claiborne’s company became the first one founded by a woman to be ranked on the Fortune 500 list.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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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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