10 Misconceptions about Holidays

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Hi I'm Elliott and this is Mental_Floss Video. Today I'm gonna talk about some misconceptions about various holidays and then I'm gonna go have a piña colada. I don't know why I'm wearing this.

1. ST. PATRICK'S DAY IS AN IRISH HOLIDAY BECAUSE ST. PATRICK WAS IRISH.

Believe it or not, Saint Patrick was born in modern day Britain in 390 CE, and he didn't even identify as a Christian until the age of 16, which was around the time that he was sent to Ireland. So why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day as an Irish holiday? Well, he is the patron saint of Ireland because he converted many Irish people to Christianity when he was a priest and Irish immigrants in America started celebrating the holiday as early as 1762. In fact, the holiday's often associated more with America more than Ireland where the holiday was a pretty minor affair until the 1970s, when I'm assuming they invented green beer.

2. INDEPENDENCE DAY IS THE DAY THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WAS SIGNED.

John Adams once wrote to his wife, "I am apt to believe that [July 2, 1776], will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival." And that was because July second was the day that the Second Continental Congress voted on the declaration, but it was officially approved on the fourth so that's the day we celebrate, despite some founding fathers who preferred to celebrate on the second. If you want to celebrate when it was signed, you have to wait until August 2, and nobody wants to do that.

3. THANKSGIVING IS IN LATE NOVEMBER BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN THE FIRST THANKSGIVING WAS HELD.

Actually, it was probably celebrated some time between September 21 and November 11. We know this because it was inspired by English harvest festivals which were typically celebrated in late September. Abraham Lincoln actually suggested the late November Thanksgiving, it officially became the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.

4. CHRISTMAS IS ON DECEMBER 25TH BECAUSE THAT'S THE DAY JESUS WAS BORN.

Nowadays it's rare to find a scholar who will argue that Jesus was born on December 25, and many don't even think he was born in the year 1 CE. It wasn't until around 300 years after Jesus's birth that people started celebrating Christmas in mid-winter, so it's hard to believe that the date could be accurate. Plus, some scholars have pointed out that since there are shepherds in the story of Jesus's birth in the Bible, it would make more sense if he was born in the spring. Even Pope Benedict the 16th wrote that Christmas is probably on the wrong date. December 25 might have been chosen because there was a Pagan celebration called Saturnalia that was celebrated around then. Others argue that it was chosen to be 9 months after Easter because there was a legend that Jesus was killed and conceived at the same time of year.

5. SUICIDES INCREASE DURING THE WINTER HOLIDAYS.

Actually this phenomenon has been studied extensively and the opposite was found to be true. Suicide rates are highest in the spring and summer according to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Experts aren't sure why this is, but some believe it has something to do with the fact that people tend to interact more with others during the warmer months causing increased stress. Others claim that sunlight itself makes people more suicidal—but regardless, suicides do not increase during the winter holidays.

6. BLACK FRIDAY IS THE BIGGEST SHOPPING DATE IN THE U.S.

This is a widely reported statistic, but the biggest shopping day actually changes from year to year. For several years in the late 2000s, Black Friday was the largest, but in 2013, the Saturday before Christmas retook the crown. It varies widely but currently the momentum seems to be with that Saturday.

7. THE DREIDEL WAS INVENTED FOR HANUKKAH.

Toys similar to the dreidel existed in many ancient cultures long before Hanukkah was a holiday. It's been connected to the Babylonian empire, India, and parts of Europe, and many people used it to gamble rather than celebrate religion. The story goes that in the ancient Seleucid empire, Jewish people adapted the toy into a method for secretly studying the Torah, and that's why it's now associated with Hanukkah.

8. EASTER IS NAMED AFTER ISHTAR.

There's a popular myth on the internet that Easter is named after Ishtar who was the Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. People say that the bunny was Ishtar's symbol since they're often associated with sex which is why we have an Easter bunny. Well, if you think about it, this makes no sense. The holiday of Easter has been around a lot longer than the English word Easter has, so really doesn't make any sense at all. Experts claim that the word Easter probably comes from a Germanic goddess named Ostra and yes, the holiday of Easter was inspired by earlier pagan celebrations but there's no evidence that Ishtar had anything to do with this, so stop bringing her into it.

9: CINCO DE MAYO IS MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day of the Battle of Puebla which occurred in 1862 when France was occupying part of Mexico. On May 5 of that year the Mexican army defeated the French army in the city of Puebla. Within five years the French no longer occupied Mexico. Mexican Independence Day is on September 16, by the way. It celebrates the start of the Mexican War of Independence against Spain in 1810.

10. NEW YEAR'S DAY IS THE MOST UNSAFE DAY TO DRIVE.

A lot of people in the U.S. think that New Year's is the most risky time to drive because there are more inebriated drivers on the road, and of course you should always be safe on the road and never drink and drive, but roads are typically more dangerous during summer holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day.

Thanks for watching Misconceptions on Mental_Floss video. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you would like to see, leave it in the comments. Also, apologies to the season of summer for giving it a bad rap in this video. And I'll see you next week. I'm gonna go, uh, I'm gonna go change.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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Design
A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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