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The Origins of 25 Fall Traditions

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If your fall bucket list includes carving jack-o’-lanterns, sipping apple cider, and toasting s’mores over a bonfire, you’re in good company. But when you stop to think about it, many of our autumnal traditions—like scooping out pumpkin guts, asking strangers for sugar, and wandering aimlessly through cornfields—are pretty bizarre. Here are the reasons behind some of our favorite fall pastimes.

1. OKTOBERFEST

This suds-filled celebration, which starts the third weekend of September and ends the first Sunday in October, was created to commemorate the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. Citizens celebrated again the following year, and the year after that, and the year after that. The party grew as the years passed—and by 1896, the beer stands had given way to beer tents.

2. CORN MAZES

Wandering through a confusing crop configuration is a relatively recent tradition. The first corn maze was created in 1993 at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. Its creator, Don Frantz, has also been responsible for producing Super Bowl halftime shows and Broadway musicals like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.

3. SUPER TUESDAY

When Americans first started voting, they had a 34-day period in which to get it done—but when Congress eventually designated a specific Election Day in 1845, they did so with farmers in mind. Many people had to travel up to a day to reach their voting locations, so Congress had to keep a two-day window open. Weekends were out because of church, and Wednesdays were no good because many farmers went to market that day. Tuesday basically won by default. We also have farmers to thank for the month in which we vote—November was post-Harvest, but pre-snow.

4. HOMECOMING

Several colleges claim to have held the first homecoming, but whether it was the University of Missouri, Baylor, or the University of Illinois, the tradition dates from the early 1900s and was invented to encourage alumni to come back to visit (presumably infusing the community with cash from their newfound paychecks).

5. TRICK-OR-TREATING

Going door-to-door for food on specific holidays dates at least back to the Middle Ages. It became popular in the United States in the 1920s and ‘30s, but had to be put on hold during WWII due to the sugar rations. When the war was over, the practice returned with a vengeance. UNICEF latched on to the tradition in 1950, and “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” has since raised more than $175 million.

6. BEGGAR'S NIGHT

Believing that holding activities on Halloween night increases the chance of vandalism and mischief, some communities choose to hold their annual trick-or-treat night on nearby dates in October instead. One of the first cities to adapt "Beggar’s Night" was Des Moines, Iowa, which switched to an alternative date after a rash of petty crime in 1938.

7. APPLE BOBBING

Trying to grab a Red Delicious with your teeth wasn’t always an autumn tradition. It was once a British courting ritual, where each apple was assigned the name of an eligible bachelor, and each woman would try to grab the apple representing the man she was interested in. (Cringe.) Getting it on the first try meant a "happily ever after" ending. Snagging the apple on the the second attempt meant the couple would get together, but their love wouldn’t last. And three tries was a no-go. Though the game waned in popularity during the 1800s, a version of it was revived at the end of the century by Americans remembering their cultural roots.

8. PUMPKIN SPICE

As you might have suspected, Starbucks gets the credit for making people lose their minds over the blend of common household spices—after all, “pumpkin spice” is really just a combination of spices found in autumn fare like pumpkin pie and apple cider. Mixing flavors such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and mace is certainly nothing new. But in 2003, the Seattle-based coffee company did a heck of a job marketing their new Pumpkin Spice Latte, and ever since then, consumers have clamored to buy anything with the magic label.

9. THE WORLD SERIES

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In 1901 and 1902, baseball's American League and National League were bitter rivals, stealing each other’s players and even taking the beef to the off-season. Things had mostly settled down by 1903, and to bury the hatchet, the leagues decided to face off in a friendly competition. The Boston Americans beat the Pittsburg (that’s not a typo—there was no "h" at the time) Pirates, but by 1904, the rivalry had reared its ugly head again. John McGraw, the manager of the New York Giants, the National League champs, refused to let his team play against the American League Boston Americans, and the 1904 World Series was canceled.

10. HAUNTED HOUSES.

The idea of an attraction designed specifically to creep people out has been around since 19th-century London, when Madame Tussaud exhibited eerily accurate wax replicas of famous French people getting their heads lopped off by the guillotine. But walkthroughs of macabre mansions filled with all manner of spooks and scares was first popularized in 1969: "A lot of the professional haunters will point to one thing, and that's Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. It's the start of the haunted attraction industry," says Lisa Morton, the author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. Within a few years, copies had popped up all over the country.

11. MOVEMBER

As many great ideas do, Movember started in a pub. In 1999, a group of guys in Adelaide, South Australia, came up with the idea to raise money and awareness for charities by growing their moustaches out for a month. The idea quickly caught on, and by 2003, other organizations had adopted the practice. Since then, the Movember Foundation has raised more than $710 million for men’s health causes such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

12. BLACK FRIDAY

If getting up in the middle of the night to fight crowds and snag deals on electronics and cookware is your idea of a good time, thank the good people of Philadelphia. Philly police used the term "Black Friday" to refer to the day after Thanksgiving, when the city would be awash with rowdy fans attending the Army-Navy football game. Local retailers took advantage of the crowds by having sales and calling the day "Big Friday," but the police term for it stuck. By the 1980s, the discounts and super sales started creeping across the nation.

13. S’MORES

We can’t point to a single inventor of the s’more, but the concept of melting the gooey concoctions over a campfire dates to at least 1927, when a recipe for "Some mores" was published in a handbook called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. The delicious combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker was nothing new—the Mallomar was invented in 1913—but there’s something to be said for the smokiness and warmth that come from the fire.

14. CANDY CORN

Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay. Invented in the 1880s by George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderle Candy Company, the tricolor treat was originally called "Chicken Feed" when the Goelitz Candy Company brought it to the masses by the end of that century.

15. GUY FAWKES NIGHT

After Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up British Parliament was foiled in 1605, the government declared November 5 a day to celebrate. Even now, more than 400 years later, November 5 is earmarked for fireworks and large bonfires where effigies of Fawkes are burned.

16. BONFIRES

Building giant fires for fun instead of necessity started as a Fourth of July tradition, when towns in New England used to compete to see who could build the tallest pile of flaming debris. Fall bonfires were also a custom, in part because many of the colonists weren't that far removed from participation in Guy Fawkes Night. George Washington hated the tradition due to its anti-Catholic sentiment—another byproduct of the association with Guy Fawkes—calling it a "ridiculous and childish custom" in 1775.

17. TAILGATING

There are a few different theories as to where and when people first gathered to break bread before watching the pigskin get tossed around. The first is that it happened at the very first college football game in 1869, when Princeton played Rutgers. People sat at the "tail end" of their horses to eat and drink. We can also fast-forward to 1904, when people started traveling to games by train. Hungry after a long journey by rail, famished fans brought pre-game snacks to enjoy before kickoff.

Finally, there’s the Green Bay Packers theory, which jibes most with how we tailgate today: Starting in 1919, fans backed their trucks up right to the edge of the field to serve as makeshift bleachers—and, of course, they noshed as they watched.

18. NANOWRIMO

Every November, thousands of writers vow to spend the month hunkering down and finally finishing that novel that’s been bouncing around in their brains. The phenomenon, known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is the brainchild of Chris Baty. In 1999, Baty and 21 of his friends vowed to get 50,000 words down on paper during the month of November. Only six of them succeeded. But word spread, and the next year, 140 people participated. The third year, they surpassed 1000 writers. Last year, 431,626 people completed the challenge.

19. CARVING JACK-O’-LANTERNS

Why do we carve pumpkins? The short answer: Because it’s better than carving turnips.

The long answer: As far back as the 1500s, Irish people told a story about Stingy Jack, a blacksmith who made a deal with the Devil to never claim his soul—but when he died, God wouldn’t let him into Heaven, either. So Jack was doomed to walk the Earth for all eternity, with only a burning coal to light his way—which he carried in a turnip he had carved out. He roams the world to this day as "Jack of the Lantern," or "Jack-O’-Lantern." Irish immigrants eventually brought the tale to the U.S., as well as the related tradition of turnip-carving. Since pumpkins were plentiful in the U.S. and allowed more room for candles, they quickly became the veggie of choice.

20. DETROIT LIONS AND DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL ON THANKSGIVING

The Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game since 1934, when the team moved to Detroit from Portsmouth, Ohio. To get the city excited about the franchise—the second in Detroit—the owner came up with the idea of having a game on Thanksgiving. Because he was well connected, the owner managed to convince NBC to broadcast the game on 94 stations across the U.S. It worked: The Lions filled the stadium to capacity and had to turn fans away at the gate.

When the Dallas Cowboys picked up on the marketing scheme in 1966, fans broke the attendance record. Both teams have upheld the Turkey Day tradition nearly every year since.

21. TURKEY PARDON

Speaking of Turkey Day, the President of the United States has the distinct honor of issuing pardons to a pair of birds every year. The tradition may date back to Abraham Lincoln, who is said to have pardoned a turkey named Jack that his son had befriended. But no real documentation for the turkey pardon exists until John F. Kennedy, who let a turkey given to him by the National Turkey Federation roam free.

22. BUY-NOTHING DAY

If Black Friday isn’t your thing, you can take the opposite tack and participate in Buy Nothing Day, where consumers are challenged to—you guessed it—buy nothing for 24 hours. Founded by artist Ted Dave, the first BND took place in Canada in 1992. In 1997, it was changed to directly counteract the ever-growing madness of Black Friday in the U.S.

23. MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE

Actually, when the spectacle debuted in 1924, it was the Macy’s Christmas Parade, and was mainly meant to create publicity for the expansion of Macy’s flagship Manhattan store, which would now cover an entire city block and became the self-proclaimed "World’s Largest Store." The parade was such a hit that they decided to make it an annual event, switching to a Thanksgiving day celebration in 1927.

24. NEW FALL TV

Autumn’s arrival also means the end of summer reruns. That’s because New York-based radio productions used to shut down for the summer so industry folks could escape to the Catskills or Cape Cod for refuge from the summer heat wave. When many radio stars made the switch to TV, the tradition continued. It works out for the best—most people tend to watch less TV in the summer anyway.

25. PUNKIN CHUNKIN

Sick of all things pumpkin? Chuck them! The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Contest in Bridgeville, Delaware, claims it’s the oldest and largest event of its kind, with the first one taking place in 1986. It's said that Delawarean Bill Thompson invented the strange sport, which started out as a small group and grew when a local radio station became interested in the squashed squash. Today, more than 50,000 spectators show up to watch contestants pitch pumpkins using trebuchets, catapults, centrifugal machines, and other contraptions.

All images courtesy of Getty unless otherwise noted.

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Smart Shopping
This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, August 20.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Crosley CR7007A-MA Patriarch Turntable with Radio, CD Player and Aux-In (Mahogany) for $103.00 (list price $169.95)

TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones, Sweatproof Wireless In Ear Earbuds, Sports Magnetic Earphones with Built in Mic (IPX5 Splash Proof Rating, aptX Stereo, Up to 7 Hours of Talk Time, Ceramic Antenna) for $25.99 (list price $69.99)

New Matter MOD-t Desktop 3D Printer | Built-In WiFi, Easy to Use, Safe and Quiet for $269.10 (list price $399.00)

Parrot Zik 2.0 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones (Yellow) for $124.95 (list price $124.95)

Samsung Gear VR - Virtual Reality Headset (US Version with Warranty) for $34.11 (list price $49.99)

JS Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Nut Speaker with Sling for iPhone iPad Android and More for $11.88 (list price $25.99)

[The Smallest] Jackery Mini 3350mAh Portable Charger - External Battery Pack, Premium Aluminum Power Bank, Portable iPhone Charger for iPhone 7, 6s, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 (Black) for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Quirky PCORP-GY01 Cordies Pop Wire and Cable Organizer, Grey for $10.00 (list price $14.95)

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand Holder with Three USB 3.0 Ports and 3.5mm AUX port - Suitable For All Headphone Sizes (Gold) for $34.99 (list price $39.99)

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD touch panel (Silver) for $399.00 (list price $529.00)

Invoxia Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa, Green for $199.00 (list price $199.00)

Withings Activité Pop - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch for $99.99 (list price $179.99)

KITCHEN

The Keyboard Waffle Iron for $54.75 (list price $69.99)

Curva Artisan Series Double Wall Beverage Glasses and Tumblers - Unique 8 oz Thermo Insulated Drinking Glasses, Set of 4 for $26.31 (list price $26.31)

MatchaDNA Handcrafted Matcha Tea Bowl - White for $16.89 (list price $29.99)

Nordic By Nature Insulated Neoprene Lunchbox Tote Lunch Bag Made For Women, Men and Kids | Includes 12" Big Bottle Cooler | Lightweight | Rugged Lunch Box | Washable | Designer Camo Pattern Bags for $19.99 (list price $27.99)

One White Apple Wooden Spoons Disposable, 6" Length Eco-Friendly Biodegradable Compostable Birchwood (Pack of 100) GO GREEN! for $12.98 (list price $16.98)

Bento Lunch Box by Lifemark Labs - Stylish Leakproof Lunch Kit with 3 Compartments - For Kids & Adults - Easy Portion Control - Container is Dishwasher & Microwave Friendly for $19.97 (list price $34.95)

Bellemain 4 Piece Airtight Acrylic Canister Set , Food Storage Container for $22.95 (list price $39.95)

koziol KASIMIR Hedgehog Cheese Grater, transparent red for $12.95 (list price $14.40)

Joseph Joseph 40085 Nest 9 Nesting Bowls Set with Mixing Bowls Measuring Cups Sieve Colander, 9-Piece, Blue for $40.00 (list price $42.99)

Cafe Du Chateau 34oz French Press, 4 Level Filtration System, 304 Grade Stainless Steel, Heat Resistant Borosilicate Glass for $22.95 (list price $27.95)

Bekith Brushed Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle / Spice Grinder / Molcajete for $13.98 (list price $49.99)

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20 for $43.12 (list price $59.99)

HOME

Vornado VFAN Vintage Air Circulator Fan, Vintage White for $95.00 (list price $119.99)

Saganizer Hamper with Wheels Rolling Cart Heavy Duty Triple Laundry Organizer/Sorter, Chrome/White for $37.99 (list price $49.99)

Bronze Dimmable Accent Table Lamp with 1 Vintage Edison Style Bulb, Plugin, Brooklyn Bulb Co. Hoyt Collection, Inset Switch, ETL Listed for $69.99 (list price $129.00)

T4U 3 Inch Ceramic Cameo Double Layer Howllow Design succulent Plant Pot/Cactus Plant Pot With Saucer Full colors Package 1 Pack of 3 for $19.93 (list price $49.86)

Rexford Mid-Century Walnut Table Lamp Set of 2 for $119.98 (list price $179.99)

Seville Classics 3-Tier Resin Slat Utility Shoe Rack, Espresso for $29.99 (list price $34.40)

Byredo - Burning Rose Candle for $68.24 (list price $95.00)

K&H Manufacturing Mod Dream Pod Gray/Black 22" (unheated) for $38.39 (list price $45.59)

Deco 79 68135 Metal Bookend Pair for $28.40 (list price $57.00)

Mini Ceramic Hanging Succulent Planters Flower Pots for Home Decor - White 2 Pieces HakkaGirl for $9.89 (list price $16.54)

Prevue Pet Products Kitty Power Paws Multi-Platform Posts with Tassel Toys, Natural for $71.95 (list price $82.74)

HERNGEE Deer Head Single Wall Hook / Hanger Animal shaped Coat Hat Hook Heavy Duty, Rustic, Decorative Gift , Grey for $12.98 (list price $14.98)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Eames Style Aluminum Group Management Office Chair Reproduction Leather White for $345.00 (list price $1,345.00)

Acrylic Desktop, Folder and Makeup Palette Organizer - Mail, Paper/Paperwork Organizer - File Sorter; File Folder Holder - Laptop Rack - by Unum - Black and Clear, 9" x 6.75" x 6.5" for $20.99 (list price $29.99)

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse for $23.53 (list price $29.95)

Arteza Real Brush Pens - 24-Colors - Watercolor Markers - (Set of 24) for $21.99 (list price $66.99)

KABB Modern Digital Mechanical Retro Flip Dоwn Clock wіth Internal Gear Operated (Black) for $43.99 (list price $89.99)

Block Sketch Desk Tidy, Blue for $29.06 (list price $38.00)

Sharpie Tank Highlighters, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 12-Count for $4.99 (list price $12.96)

Scotch Magic Tape, 3/4 x 1000 Inches, Boxed, 6 Rolls (810K6) for $9.89 (list price $11.45)

Wilson Jones 3 Ring Binder 3 Inch, Round Ring View Binder, Basic, 362 Series, Customizable, White (W362-49W) for $4.89 (list price $7.18)

eBoot 12 Inches Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office, Clear, 2 Pack for $6.99 (list price $8.99)

Mead Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 100 Sheets, 5 Pack (72930) for $13.90 (list price $20.30)

Personal Daily Planner Organizer Will Help You to Keep Work-Life Balance & Achieve a Little More Goals - NO DATES Calendar Planner ( 8,5 X 5,7 ) - Diary Notebook for Man and Women 2017 / 2018 / 2019 for $18.99 (list price $29.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Conair Oval Shaped Double-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror, 1x/7x magnification, Polished Chrome Finish for $26.09 (list price $34.99)

Mudder Silicone Cosmetic Containers Cream Jar with Sealed Lids, 3 Pieces (20 ml) for $8.99 (list price $14.99)

Dukes Daily Age-Defying Facial Moisturizer Cream 4oz - Anti-Aging Lotion - Day/Night Face Wash Fuel for Men – All Organic for $19.99 (list price $45.00)

Himalayan Pink Salt Bar Soap Bar with Rose (Everest) (4 Oz)- Handmade Organic with Essential Oils. Natural Moisturizing Body Soap for Skin and Face. With Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Natural Glycerin for $7.99 (list price $9.00)

Umbra Stowit Jewelry Box - Modern Keepsake Storage Organizer with Hidden Compartment Drawers for Ring, Bracelet, Watch, Necklace, Earrings, and Accessories for $42.05 (list price $60.00)

Gentleman Jon Deluxe Wet Shave Kit | Includes 8 Items: Safety Razor, Badger Hair Brush, Shave Stand, Canvas & Leather Dopp Kit, Alum Block, Shave Soap, Stainless Steel Bowl and Astra Razor Blades for $75.00 (list price $95.00)

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo with Peppermint, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Botanicals, 16-Ounces for $11.43 (list price $12.00)

Buxton Men's Addison Leather U-Zip Hanging Travel Kit, Cognac for $37.88 (list price $70.00)

Eye Cream Anti Aging Moisturizer - for Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags - Best Natural & Organic Ingredients - Use Day & Night - 1.7 OZ for $17.99 (list price $25.99)

Red Clay Honey Mask 9 fl oz for Anti Aging Facial Treatment, Facial Cleanser, Pore Reducer, Anti Aging Mask, Acne Treatment, Blackhead Remover, Cellulite Treatment & Natural Moisturizer for $15.95 (list price $49.99)

Dental Tool Set, ElleSye Dental Hygiene Tool Kit for Home Oral Care, Stainless Steel Tartar Remover Dental Pick Dental Scaler Dental Tweezers Anti-fog Mouth Mirror for Personal and Pet Use for $11.69 (list price $29.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Poler Men's Retro Rolltop Backpack, Black, One Size for $63.71 (list price $74.95)

Everstryke Match Pro Lighter - Waterproof Fire Starter Especially for Survival and Emergency Use for $9.99 (list price $29.95)

JOOLA Midsize Table Tennis Table for $144.98 (list price $219.95)

Streamline Rainbow Color Wheel Umbrella for $23.99 (list price $26.81)

mKitchen World Marshmallow Roasting Sticks | Telescoping Smores Skewers Hot Dog Extending Stainless Steel Fork | Extra Long 3.75 FT-45’’|Set of 5|Fire Pit, Camping, Campfire, Bonfire Kids Accessories for $16.99 (list price $37.64)

Schwinn Discover Women's Hybrid Bike (700C Wheels),White,28" for $249.39 (list price $275.37)

Running Belt – Fanny Pack – iPhone 6 , 7 Plus Pouch for Runners - Best Fitness Gear for Hands Free Workout – Reflective Waist Pack by Sport2People for $14.97 (list price $37.47)

Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike, Red for $117.87 (list price $129.99)

eBags Crew Cooler II (Blue Yonder) for $34.99 (list price $49.99)

2 Pack Swimming Cap - TURATA Waterproof Unisex Premium Earmuffs Silicone No-Slip Swimming Cap for Adults Kids Woman and Men One Size Hat - Black & Blue for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

SEMOO Water Resistant ,2-3 Person,1 Door,3-Season Lightweight Tent for Camping with Carry Bag for $42.99 (list price $79.98)

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chairs with Carry Bag Heavy Duty 242lbs Capacity Camping Folding Chairs Beach Chairs for $34.99 (list price $67.99)

TOOLS

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner for $65.00 (list price $69.99)

True Utility FIXR Multi-Tool (20 Tools in 1) for $4.09 (list price $14.99)

GlowGeek 120 to 3000 Grit Sandpaper Assortment, Dry/Wet, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 42 Pieces,Sand Paper for Automotive Sanding, Wood Furniture Finishing, Wood Turing Finishing for $9.96 (list price $24.99)

First Aid Kit (275 Pieces 40 Unique Items) Family Emergency Disaster Earthquake & Survival. Large Portable Bag Ideal for Home Car Boat Kayak Backpack RV Sports Camping Hiking. Protect Your Loved Ones for $44.95 (list price $69.95)

Dremel 2200-01 Versa Flame Multi-Function Butane Torch for $39.00 (list price $42.99)

Plus Pen Style Compact Twiggy Scissors with Cover, White (34609) for $4.36 (list price $5.99)

Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool for $79.00 (list price $99.00)

Southwire Tools & Equipment POUCH4 Leather Tool Pouch for $15.28 (list price $17.98)

NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses and No-Slip Grips, UV Protection. Adjustable, Black & Green Frames for $9.39 (list price $10.49)

Signstek 45 in 1 Professional Portable Opening Precision Screwdriver Hand Tools Kit Set with Tweezers & Extension Shaft for Precise Repair Maintenance for $8.00 (list price $19.99)

Bingogous 5.0Ah 20V Max Premium XR Lithium Li-ion Replacement Battery for Dewalt DCB205 Dewalt DCB180,DCB204-2,DCB205-2,DCB200-2,DCB200 Dewalt DCD/DCF/DCG Series Dewalt 20V Battery 2 Pack for $59.99 (list price $99.99)

ORIA 86 in 1 Precision Screwdriver Set, Magnet Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag for iPhone/ Cell Phone/ iPad/ Tablet/ PC/ MacBook and Other Electronics for $29.99 (list price $89.99)

Hole Saw Sets,16 Pcs Hole Saw Kit 3/4"-5" Inch Metal Circle Cutter Wood Steel Saws with Mandrels and Install Plate for Door Knob Lock for $16.14 (list price $18.99)

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Big Questions
Should You Keep Your Pets Indoors During the Solar Eclipse?
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PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

By now, you probably know what you’ll be doing on August 21, when a total solar eclipse makes its way across the continental United States. You’ve had your safety glasses ready since January (and have confirmed that they’ll actually protect your retinas), you’ve picked out the perfect vantage point in your area for the best view, and you’ve memorized Nikon’s tips for how to take pictures of this rare celestial phenomenon. Still, it feels like you’re forgetting something … and it’s probably the thing that's been right under your nose, and sitting on your lap, the whole time: your pets.

Even if you’ve never witnessed a solar eclipse, you undoubtedly know that you’re never supposed to look directly at the sun during one. But what about your four-legged family members? Shouldn’t Fido be fitted with a pair of eclipse glasses before he heads out for his daily walk? Could Princess Kitty be in danger of having her peepers singed if she’s lounging on her favorite windowsill? While, like humans, looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse does pose the potential of doing harm to a pet’s eyes, it’s unlikely that the thought would even occur to the little ball of fluff.

“It’s no different than any other day,” Angela Speck, co-chair of the AAS National Solar Eclipse Task Force, explained during a NASA briefing in June. “On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not going to do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.”

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a veterinarian, author, and founder of pawcurious, echoed Speck’s statement, but allowed that there’s no such thing as being too cautious. “It’s hard for me to criticize such a well-meaning warning, because there’s really no harm in following the advice to keep pets inside during the eclipse,” Vogelsang told Snopes. “It’s better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. But in the interest of offering a realistic risk assessment, the likelihood of a pet ruining their eyes the same way a human would during an eclipse is much lower—not because the damage would be any less were they to stare at the sun, but because, from a behavior standpoint, dogs and cats just don’t have any interest in doing so. We tend to extrapolate a lot of things from people to pets that just doesn’t bear out, and this is one of them.

“I’ve seen lots of warnings from the astronomy community and the human medical community about the theoretical dangers of pets and eclipses, but I’m not sure if any of them really know animal behavior all that well," Vogelsang continued. "It’s not like there’s a big outcry from the wildlife community to go chase down coyotes and hawks and bears and give them goggles either. While we in the veterinary community absolutely appreciate people being concerned about their pets’ wellbeing, this is a non-issue for us.”

The bigger issue, according to several experts, would be with pets who are already sensitive to Mother Nature. "If you have the sort of pet that's normally sensitive to shifts in the weather, they might be disturbed by just the whole vibe because the temperature will drop and the sky will get dark,” Melanie Monteiro, a pet safety expert and author of The Safe-Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out, told TODAY.

“If [your pets] have learned some association with it getting darker, they will show that behavior or at a minimum they get confused because the timeframe does not correspond,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn Vet Hospital told CBS Philly. “You might put the blinds down, but not exactly when the dark is coming but when it is still light.” 

While Monteiro again reasserts that, "Dogs and cats don't normally look up into the sun, so you don't need to get any special eye protection for your pets,” she says that it’s never a bad idea to take some extra precautions. So if you’re headed out to an eclipse viewing party, why not do your pets a favor and leave them at home. They won’t even know what they’re missing.

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