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Odd Holidays

March 17, 2012
by GLYNIS VALENTI - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

Most people realize that today is St. Patrick's Day and may be celebrating accordingly. However, there's no need to limit the party to one day this month. March is full of holidays, national and obscure, in which everyone can partake, with or without green beer.

Though the month is half over, and several holidays have passed, don't panic about catching up. Or DO panic, as you like, because Panic Day was on March 9. There is no concrete information about the origin of this holiday, but the word "panic" is derived from the name of the Greek mythological creature Pan. He was the half-man, half-beast god of woods and fields who made strange noises to incite groundless fear and confusion in animals and people. Once you've run around the neighborhood screaming or spent a few hours huddled under the bed covers, you'll be ready to move on - because March 9 is also Get Over It Day.

Get Over It Day originator Jeff Goldblatt decided it was his time to move on after a failed relationship and pronounced the mid-point between Valentine's Day and April Fool's Day as good a time as any. Get Over It Day isn't just for exes, though. Think of embarrassing moments, championships that could have been, missed opportunities or even unwarranted panic. This is the first moment of the rest of your life. Let it go.

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Ready for spring? Head up to Lake Superior State University for their annual “Snowman Burning Day” on March 20. You may need those matches to keep warm.

Or you can wait until tomorrow or next week, because March 9 falls during National Procrastination Week (March 4-10.) The word "procrastinate" is Latin in origin and means "to put off until tomorrow." Roman emperor Cicero is quoted using it, so people have been doing this for a long time. The holiday week's origin isn't clear, but is generally attributed to the Procrastinator's Club. How is this occasion celebrated? Those promoting it say not by putting things off, but by getting things done.

If you're overwhelmed (one cause of procrastination), start by sitting down in a quiet place and brainstorming all of your projects and tasks, writing everything down as it comes into your head. After you've completely emptied your brain, group projects with tasks into more organized lists. This visual will allow you to cross off completed tasks and steadily work your way through. Some people say Jerry Seinfeld's "don't break the chain" productivity tool has helped them succeed. Begin with three to four goals, and put each on a separate monthly calendar, posting the calendars in a visible space. Work on each goal for 15 minutes every day, and when the 15 minutes is complete put a large "X" on that day for that goal. The idea is to keep "the chain" of X's continuous. Don't delay. National Procrastination Week is only seven days long.

Maybe you haven't heard of all the goings-on because March 13 was Earmuffs Day, and you're still celebrating that. Chester Greenwood, was 15 years old and dropped out of school in Maine. Greenwood spent a lot of time ice skating with his new-found free time and wanted something to keep his (reportedly large) ears warm. He formed two circles out of wire and asked his grandmother to sew fur onto them. He later patented the version with the metal head strip (on March 13, 1877) and made a fortune supplying them to soldiers during World War I.

If all this celebrating is taking its toll, March also boasts Plan a Solo Vacation Day (March 1). Get away from the leprechauns, put the earmuffs away and schedule some quality "me time" without family, friends or co-workers. This holiday began as a promotion by to encourage single and solo travelers to personalize their vacations and get the most from their trips. Traveling alone puts you in control of your itinerary - pampering at a spa, shopping in New York City, white water rafting or meandering through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kimberly Schwind of AAA Ohio in St. Clairsville says that AAA offers Amish Country packages and a package to the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills, both close to home. Upcoming motor coach tours include a play in Cleveland and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Schwind notes that traveling alone has become so popular that AAA is launching a "Solo Travelers Club" this summer to allow singles to take advantage of group travel rates. Staying safe on the road means staying aware. Keep a cell phone with you, and check in with family or friends regularly letting them know your itinerary or plans.

You may even want to grab the earmuffs again and book a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for Snowman Burning Day on March 20. Students and faculty at Lake Superior State University celebrate this rite of spring by enthusiastically torching effigies of snowmen. In the tradition of a small town spring festival in Germany, LSSU began burning snowmen at noon on the first day of spring in 1971. Pack your umbrella, too. It's National Umbrella Month just in time for April showers. The collapsible version dates back to 21 AD in China, but ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Middle East, South America, Greece and Rome have all depicted similar versions of this universal tool.

If none of these or the myriad of other holidays March has to offer aren't exactly what you have in mind, you're still in luck. March 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. This holiday was created by the founders of www.wellcat. com, Thomas and Ruth Roy, who like to think up new holidays. A true national holiday takes an act of Congress, but regular people, businesses and organizations can declare any day a "holiday" and claim it for their cause.

Whatever you choose to celebrate, not celebrate, plan or produce, it's going to be great. Birds are chirping, spring is arriving, and you wouldn't expect anything less from Optimism Month.



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