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On This Day: February 1
A new month means lots to celebrate. It’s actually the first of the year in Vietnam, and springtime in Ireland. In Hawaii, you’re encouraged to “hula in the coola,” while other Americans appreciate our spunky old broads. Freedom Day is also a great way to kick off Black History Month. Worldwide, we celebrate face and body art, hijabs, women in sports, and reading aloud. If you fall down, get right back up, and remember to change your passwords regularly, too.
Frustrated by the outdated, error-ridden reference materials of their day, London’s Philological Society began work on their own dictionary in 1857. Despite initial estimates of ten years and four volumes, the first portion of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles – today known as the Oxford English Dictionary – wasn’t published until February 1, 1884. Completing the final, 125th, printing would take nearly four and a half decades more! Out of more than 400,000 terms, “set” constituted the longest single entry, with over 430 uses. The OED was converted to an electronic version in 1984, and is currently in the process of being updated for its third edition. That’s good, because a complete printed collection today would weigh over 137 pounds!
On This Day: February 2
Are you feeling optimistic about Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow this Groundhog Day? If he does, it means six more weeks of winter (although he’s only right about forty percent of the time). We adopted this tradition from Germany, where they weren’t simply content observing Candlemas, the day of baby Jesus’ presentation. Throughout history, people have also looked to badgers, marmots, hedgehogs, or bears to forecast spring weather. Today also honors brown dogs, sled dogs, ukuleles, crepes, and tater tots.
Do you ♡ New York City? Over two hundred different languages are spoken there today, which seems fitting. The area was first discovered in 1524 by an Italian explorer working for the French crown. The Dutch arrived looking for beavers (not groundhogs) a century later, and tricked the natives into selling them the island of Manhattan for about $24. New Amsterdam, at the southern tip, was incorporated into a city on February 2, 1653. Then, the English showed up eleven years later, demanding it all be surrendered to them. Luckily for them, Governor Peter Stuyvesant was so unpopular that no one really resisted. On this same day in 1913, Grand Central Terminal opened, highlighting just how far NYC has come.
On This Day: February 3
It’s National Woman’s Heart Day, and who needs men when there are cute animals? Go feed some birds and snuggle up for Doggy Date Night. Feeling naughty? It’s also Working Naked Day. Dogs nor dentists are fans of Bubblegum Day, but it can give kids a smile. That’s especially important on Missing Persons Day and Number Day, which fights child abuse. If you’re a patient, thank a female physician, and if you’re a doctor, remember to recognize your patients, too.
In case you were wondering, “American Pie” fans, this is the day the music died. The song refers to a plane crash on January 3, 1959, in which famous musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” all perished. Holly, for one, had just hit #1 on the Billboard charts for his song “That’ll Be the Day” (when I die). While the world of music floundered, life below the waves was receiving more attention than ever, due to French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s memoir The Silent World, published exactly six years earlier, in 1953. With lots of pictures, the book detailed his efforts to invent the world’s first self-contained breathing device, not only revolutionizing underwater exploration, but popularizing it, too.
On This Day: February 4
While cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide by an incredibly large margin (more than the next top five illnesses, combined), cancer ranks number two. February 4 is World Cancer Day, so make sure you’re up to date on all the best prevention advice and consider donating to research. Once that’s done, cheer up by eating ice cream for breakfast and take your children to the library. Also, don’t forget to thank your mailman and a local farmer.
The final straw that convinced southern states to abandon the United States was Abraham Lincoln winning the 1860 presidential election. Ironically, the delegates from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina gathered to make this decision on the very same day that George Washington had been elected in 1789. As a matter of fact, February 4 has, historically, been a good day for major mergers. On this day in 1922, Ford Motor Company bought out Lincoln, and in 1938, Disney released their first full-length animated film about a group of seven dwarves welcoming Snow White into their clan. Fast-forward to 2004, when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook. Today this social media behemoth connects over two billion active “friends” worldwide.
On This Day: February 5
It’s OK to let it out on February 5, National Fart Day. It’s also Dump Your Significant Jerk Day, though, so don’t go crazy. That could be a Disaster-Day-level catastrophe! Need a change of scenery (or just some fresh air)? Check the weather and head to the airport for Tourism Day, too. There’s lots to see and do wherever you go, like Maghi Purnima in India, Thaipusam in Thailand, Unity Day in Burundi, or the Floating Lantern Festival in China.
Some victories take longer than others. The fledgling Roman Republic had to fight the Carthaginians for more than a century before peace was finally declared on February 5, 146, and they emerged as the Mediterranean’s great power. Then there was Myrlie Evers. After her husband, African American civil rights leader Medgar Evans, was gunned down in his own front yard in 1963, his murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was given a sham trial and walked free. Myrlie never gave up, though. She continued fighting for black rights, rose to become the NAACP’s first female chair, and eventually convinced authorities to re-open Medgar’s case. On February 5, 1994, Beckwith was finally convicted of murder and served his last years in prison.
On This Day: February 6
It’s Time to Talk Day. Start by paying someone a compliment on social media since Reclaim Social Day is meant to fight online negativity. Sometimes even nice words aren’t as important as getting to the heart of an issue, though. Try being a little more honest. Don’t always reply “I’m fine” when you’re really not. You could call out “sickie” for work (it is the most popular week to do so), but that won’t solve problems with your boss, either.
As Marcus Aurelius wisely noted long ago, “Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.” The Chinese Ming Dynasty came to an end on February 6, 1644, ripped apart by corruption and over-taxation. When Emperor Chongzhen saw enemies closing on his city and no one coming to help, he hanged himself. This was also the day, in 1840, the Maori were tricked into signing a treaty that gave New Zealand away to the British. A few generations later, King George VI died and Queen Elizabeth began her long reign, again on February 6, 1952. Learning from the mistakes of history helped her stay in power for seventy years.
On This Day: February 7
Today is a good day to spread kindness. Send a card to a friend, wave all your fingers at your neighbor (instead of the normal one), or simply hug an alcoholic (or anyone else who’s suffering) and let them know that you’re there for them. It’s African American Coaches Day, too, although anyone can be a mentor. Even kids can help struggling classmates, whether that means memorizing the periodic table or figuring out what “e” stands for on your calculator.
Did you know that the British invaded America in 1964? This wasn’t a military assault, but a musical one, starting with the Beatles arriving in New York on February 7 to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. They were mobbed at the airport by 3,000 screaming fans and their popularity exploded from there. Like them or hate them, at least it was a welcome distraction from the Cold War. Particularly troubling was the knowledge that communism had already toppled one government mere miles off the U.S. coast. On February 7, 1962, President Kennedy issued an executive order restricting trade with Cuba, and the Cuban Missile Crisis later that year certainly didn’t help. This embargo lasted into the 21st century.
On This Day: February 8
So, you just proposed to the girl of your dreams and now you’re planning the ideal honeymoon getaway. Why not give Iowa a chance? The name means “beautiful,” and with all the endless rolling hills, it’s a wonderful place to fly kites. You may not find lots of opera, but the first computer was developed there in 1937 – Scout’s honor! Regardless of where you go, remember this Laugh and Get Rich Day that happiness is what really makes you wealthy.
England’s Mary, Queen of Scotts, and Russia’s Peter the Great, both died on February 8 (1587 and 1725, respectively). Gee Jon did too, a Chinese gang member with the dubious honor of being the first American executed by lethal gas in 1924. Nine years prior, however, Americans didn’t lose their heads – they lost their minds over one of the most controversial movies ever. 1915’s “Birth of a Nation” was the country’s very first feature-length film. Technically, it was a masterpiece, introducing such modern standards as flashbacks, closeups, dissolves, and panoramic filming. On the other hand, it was also a three-hour-long publicity stunt glorifying the murderous, ultra-racist Ku Klux Klan. Millions loved it, but riots did break out in some cities.
On This Day: February 9
February 9 is National Develop Alternative Vices Day. For example, do you need to give up smoking? Realizing that both pizza and chocolate are celebrated today could be exactly the distraction you need to fight off those initial cravings. Just make sure you don’t end up with a toothache. Cut the Cord Day encourages people to switch to streaming instead of cable, but if you suddenly become addicted to binge-watching new shows, maybe give reading in the bathtub a shot.
What happens when there’s a tie in a U.S. Presidential election? This has only happened twice: in 1800, when John Adams lost, and again in 1824 when, ironically and all despite all odds, Adams’ son emerged victorious. Andrew Jackson had even won the very first popular vote, yet the House of Representatives decided they liked John Quincy Adams better on February 9, 1825. Politics were no less shady when Senator Joseph McCarthy announced a secret list of “known communists” in government exactly 125 years later, spreading paranoia and ruining thousands of innocent lives. Daylight Savings, initiated eight years prior, in 1942, may be even deadlier, however, since it triggers a 3% spike in fatal accidents every year.
On This Day: February 10
How’s the weather where you are this Valentismas (a mix between Valentine’s Day and Christmas)? If it’s miserable, you may want to consider bringing an umbrella along. If not, put on your flannels and consider biking to work. Your local newspaper probably has some sort of forecast, along with other useful tidbits on All the News That’s Fit to Print Day. This holiday encourages journalists to stick to the facts and reminds readers that not all “facts” are created equal.
Laura Ingalls Wilder became famous for her memoires about growing up as a young girl on America’s wild frontier, but did you know that she died ninety years old on February 10, 1957? How much the world must have changed! People felt the same way in 1996 when Deep Blue, an IBM computer, defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Having earned his title at the record-breaking age of 22, this Azerbaijan native is still considered one of the greatest chess players ever. Six million viewers were therefore understandably shocked when Deep Blue won the first match, even if Kasparov eventually emerged victorious. When they met again a year later, however, it was the computer’s turn to take home the trophy.
On This Day: February 11
There’s no need to invent new celebrations – February 11 already has plenty, starting with not only Inventor’s Day, but also International Day of Women and Girls in Science and Be Electrific Day, putting light where light has not been before. Whether you’ve achieved grandmother status, support your husband’s sports, or are satisfied staying single, give yourself a pat on the back. If you are hunting for friends, though, try jamming with guitars, seeing a movie, or going out for lattes.
On February 11, 1970, Japan made history by becoming the fourth country to launch a satellite into space. France had become the third in 1965 and China secured their position in the top five just two months later. Exactly twenty years afterwards, in 1990, however, South Africa took the spotlight. This was the day Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison after twenty-seven long years. He had been sentenced to life for leading the fight against Apartheid, his government’s severely racist policy of segregation and discrimination. When President F.W. de Klerk finally agreed to greater equality in 1989, he started by letting Mandela go. Both men shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and Mandela was later even elected President.
On This Day: February 12
February 12 may be Man Day, but it’s also International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers (also known as Red Hand Day). It’s World Marriage Day, but Freedom to Marry Day, too. Does all this conflict leave you a little frustrated? Well, luckily, it’s also Hug Day for everyone out there. You’ll have even more luck if you find a lost penny. The government would appreciate it. Do you know it costs over two cents to make each one?
It may surprise you to learn that Congress passed its first fugitive slave law way back on February 12, 1793, prohibiting anyone from aiding runaway slaves, even in free states. The situation for African Americans had improved a little by 1909, but not much. This year, on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded. This organization (NAACP for short) was and continues to be a tremendous driving force in the fight against discrimination. During the Civil Rights Movement, in addition to providing support and organizing peaceful protests nationwide, their team of lawyers took on many of the hardest cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, and won.
On This Day: February 13
Who needs Valentine’s when you’ve got Galentine’s Day for the ladies and Wingman Day for men? It’s also Self-Love Day, so spend some quality time taking care of the natural you while you dream of your future sweet. For those of us who really don’t want to spend International Condom Day alone without any kisses, though, it’s also Desperation Day. It may also be good to take advantage of Clean Out Your Computer Day, if you know what I mean.
Love is in the air, but men suffering from hair loss may lack the confidence to ask out their secret crush. Rogaine to the rescue! On February 13, 1979, founder Charles Chidsey received the first ever patent for a baldness remedy. This would have been particularly helpful for poor, bald-headed Charlie Brown from Charles M. Schulz’s world-famous comic strip Peanuts. Schulz actually hated that title, inspired by Howdy Doody’s “Peanut Gallery” seating area for kids and forced on him by his syndicate. The original strip premiered in October 1950 and ran for five decades until the day Schulz died, February 13, 2000. Nearly eighteen thousand published strips makes Peanuts, arguably, the longest story ever told by one man.
On This Day: February 14
Do you have your flowers, chocolates, and dinner reservations? It’s finally Valentine’s Day – the ultimate love holiday. In the U.S., children usually celebrate friendship while the adult version is all about romance. If you don’t have a special someone, there’s always National Call In Single Day. As an extension to Read to Your Child Day, there’s also Library Lovers’ Day. Other ways to spread the love include Have a Heart Day, Gold Heart Day, and (more literally) Organ Donor Day.
Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, who is said to have been executed for marrying young people against the law on February 14, 270 AD. In reality, there were three different saints with this name, and the celebration was likely adapted from Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. Regardless, everybody loves love, so it stuck. We all got our picture taken together on February 14, 1990, when the Voyager 1 spaceship snapped a photo from 3.7 billion miles away. From so far, Earth appears no bigger than a pale blue dot. In 2005, the world was united once again by the launching of a new video-sharing website, YouTube. Within one year, it had already surpassed twenty-five million views.
On This Day: February 15
February 15 is Singles Awareness Day. Some couples may even need a love reset if last night didn’t go well. For the extra bitter, there’s St. Skeletor’s Day, based on the “Masters of the Universe” villain and meant to be the antithesis of romance. If “Spongebob Squarepants” is more your style, enjoy Annoy Squidward Day. Both shows may cheer up a sick kid. Plus, International Childhood Cancer Day serves as a reminder that maybe your relationship problems aren’t so bad.
The United States designed its own flag before even becoming a country, but Canada didn’t adopt the red-and-white maple leaf until February 15, 1965. Did you know that teddy bears are also political in origin? Released on this same day in 1903, they were named after President Theodore Roosevelt. Reportedly, while out hunting, his men had captured a bear and tied it up for him to shoot, but Roosevelt took pity on the beast and let it go (a little hard to believe, seeing as on another trip to Africa his party slaughtered more than six thousand animals for sport). Teddy’s cousin, soon-to-be-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had a less heart-warming run-in exactly thirty years later, narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt.
On This Day: February 16
Do a grouch a favor and tell them about World Anthropology Day, when we celebrate humanity’s amazing diversity while also acknowledging everything we have in common. These concepts were important to Elizabeth Peratrovich as she fought for Native Alaskan equality. Looking to the future, it’s also Innovation Day. You could find inspiration in the Kyoto Protocol and help work on a solution to Global Warming, or focus on discovering a cure for cholangiocarcinoma, the world’s most aggressive form of cancer.
The first 9-1-1 emergency call was made on February 16, 1968, though half of the country still had no access twenty years later. AT&T actually picked out the number, rationalizing it was easy to remember and wasn’t being used as an area code. This was also the day in 1959 Fidel Castro led the Communist Party to power in Cuba and, in 1985, that the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah was founded. Despite growing up wealthy, Castro started involving himself in revolutionary politics at university. He didn’t start off as a Marxist – mainly just anti-American. When General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the Cuban government in 1951, Castro gathered a small, ragtag group of rebels and began the long process of fighting back.
On This Day: February 17
This World Human Spirit Day, meditate awhile on some of life’s big questions. Who shall you be? Are you a “my way or the highway” control freak, or are you open to letting the universe guide you towards random acts of kindness? Are you old-school analog or high-tech digital? Are you a tennis player or a crab racer? Would you prefer to leave the world a better place through science, or by simply making sure that no one eats alone?
February 17 was a good date for 20th century art. To start with, Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera Madame Butterfly premiered this day in 1904. As was the case with his other great successes, opening night didn’t go so well. Puccini reworked it right away, though, and the crowds couldn’t get enough. In 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art (commonly referred to as the Armory Show) came to New York City, revolutionizing American modern art. Patrons accustomed to Realism were shocked and inspired by the new avant-garde masters of Europe, including Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne. Another kind of art history took place on February 17, 1972, when Volkswagen’s Beetle surpassed Ford’s Model T as the world’s best-selling car.
On This Day: February 18
Ready for some weird holidays? Pour a glass of wine, recharge your batteries, and listen up! First, there’s Thumb Appreciation Day. Seriously, what would we do without them? It’s also World Pangolin Day, celebrating one of the oddest-looking, nearly-extinct mammals. The Great Backyard Bird Count is another international preservation effort anyone can join. Strangest of all is Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day, commemorating the day in 1930 when a cow was milked on a plane (for science).
Can you believe that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is exactly forty-five years older than the discovery of Pluto? Many consider humorist Mark Twain to be the “father of American literature” and Huckleberry Finn, published in 1885, the “Great American Novel.” Based around the sensitive topic of slavery, it’s always been considered a bit scandalous. Pluto has also seen its share of controversy. The existence of a ninth planet was first proposed by Percival Lowell around 1906 based on wobbles in Uranus’ and Neptune’s orbits. Unfortunately he died before Pluto was finally pinpointed on February 18, 1930. It enjoyed celebrity status for a few decades, but was officially stripped of its planet status in 2006 because, apparently, size does matter.
On This Day: February 19
Not to plagiarize anyone, but happy birthday U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. A special shout out to all our female military veterans, too – you rock! February 19 also celebrates the many ways people get around, whether by airboat, Daytona race car, Arabian horse, or, if you’re like Jonah in the Bible, whale. If you lose at tug of war, your friends might be willing to drag you to your next appointment, but you’d probably get lots of mud in your eyelashes.
If you think life as an immigrant in the United States is hard now, it used to be even worse! The Donner Party is one particularly nasty example. Eighty-nine settlers left Wyoming for California in July 1846, but by the time rescuers found them on February 19 of the following year, only forty-five survivors were left, having resorted to cannibalism. Even darker, though, was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order on February 19, 1942, to force more than a hundred thousand Japanese-American families into internment camps for the duration of World War II. These camps weren’t quite as bad as the Nazi’s, but thousands died, and survivors had to rebuild their lives from nothing once finally released four years later.
On This Day: February 20
While Canadians celebrate families, it’s Presidents’ Day (and National Leadership Day) in the U.S. That’s kind of awkward, though, also being No Politics Day. Then there’s National Day of Solidarity with Muslim Arab and South Asian Immigrants. World Day of Social Justice is easier to fit on a t-shirt. Whistleblowers are encouraged to keep reporting fraud, and students to volunteer more. If this all sounds too stressful, grab a muffin and get comfy in your favorite pair of blue jeans.
Humans are notoriously fickle creatures, constantly changing. Modern Germans learn all about Nazi atrocities from a young age to prevent similar future disasters. Were you aware, however, that on February 20, 1939, New York hosted a rally with more than 20,000 attendees celebrating Adolph Hitler? In fact, the United States was a prime source of inspiration for the Holocaust. Sadly, most of us remain completely oblivious to the darkest moments in our nation’s past, but it is possible to change. The U.S. and Soviets were mortal enemies when John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth on February 20, 1962. Just twenty-four years later, in 1986, Russia launched Mir (meaning “Peace” or “World”), and started welcoming American scientific collaboration.
On This Day: February 21
Did you know that UNESCO identifies almost 150 critically endangered languages with less than ten speakers worldwide? Dialects like Dampel, Laua, and Yarawi will die along with their one remaining expert. Today is not only Language Day, but also International Mother Language Day and even Language Martyrs’ Day, honoring people who have actually died for the right to use their native tongue. All languages are useful, frustrating, and special in different ways, and they all are equally deserving of celebration!
The Communist Manifesto was originally published on February 21, 1848, during a particularly revolutionary year throughout Europe. The radical ideas of writers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels quickly faded to near obscurity, but once rediscovered a few decades later, Marxist communism would shake the world. African-American leader Malcolm X tried to do the same. He had a lot to be angry about, starting with his father’s murder by the KKK. Discovering the Nation of Islam in prison gave his life new purpose: promoting black nationalism. Malcolm grew in influence to rival even Martin Luther King, Jr., preaching a much more violent message of liberation “by any means necessary.” He was assassinated on February 21, 1965, by rival Black Muslims.
On This Day: February 22
You may have heard of multi-tasking before, but what about Single Tasking Day, scientifically proven to make you more productive. Start by putting on a pink shirt to promote anti-bullying efforts. Then, think (World Thinking Day) about other ways you can humbly inconvenience yourself in order to help others. Walk the dog, bag your own groceries, cook healthier sweet potatoes, and play cards with a lonely neighbor. Hopefully, when you’re done, there’ll be time to celebrate National Margarita Day, too.
Did you know George Washington had two birthdays: February 22, 1732, and February 11, 1731? That’s because Great Britain and her colonies switched to a new calendar when he was twenty. Were you also aware that Florida wasn’t one of the original Thirteen Colonies? It was purchased from Spain on February 22, 1819, in exchange for settling approximately $5 million in legal claims. Americans always have liked their lawyers. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the world’s largest drug trafficking organization, needed a very good lawyer in Mexico after being arrested on this same day in 2014. The Soviets probably would have liked to sue the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980, too, after their humiliating “Miracle on Ice” defeat.
On This Day: February 23
Let’s celebrate Digital Learning Day and all the wonderful opportunities this modern medium has to offer, no matter what you want to study, where you live, or how crazy your schedule is! You can even train your dogs online (provided you have non-digital biscuits to reward them with). If you’re out grocery shopping, don’t forget the chili, Tootsie Rolls, banana bread, or regular bread to make toast, either. If you’re participating in the Great American Spit Out, though, no tobacco.
“This land is your land; this land is my land. From California to the New York island…” When Woody Guthrie wrote this song on February 23, 1940, he wanted to unite the common man, likely never guessing it’d become a rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement. Exactly five years later, U.S. Marines fought and won a bloody battle on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, snapping a picture of six soldiers struggling to raise the flag that would become another great patriotic symbol. In fact, it’s the most reproduced photograph in history. Also this day, in 1954, a group of Pennsylvanian children received injections of Jonas Salk’s new polio vaccine, the first step towards virtually eliminating the disease.
On This Day: February 24
Did you know that Nintendo, the video game giant, is over a hundred thirty years old? How is that even possible? They got their start producing Japanese playing cards, and are still associated with one of the world’s most popular franchises today. Try to catch them all this National Trading Card Day! Not a fan? Then you can join the other haters at the bar for I Hate Coriander Day, Skip the Straw Day, and Stand Up to Bullying Day.
Remember the Alamo: an old mission-style fortress in San Antonio where U.S. citizens fighting to free Texas from Mexican control made their last stand. Vastly outnumbered – 200 against 5,000 – the rebels, including famous figures like James Bowie and Davy Crocket, answered General Santa Ana’s call for surrender with cannon fire. They called for help on February 24, 1836, but to no avail. Thirteen days later, Mexican forces finally broke through and left no survivors. The response was furious, just like on this same day in 1917 when the “Zimmerman Telegram” revealed German efforts to enlist Mexican aid in attacking their neighbor to the north. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, forcing the U.S. into World War I.
On This Day: February 25
For some, February 25 marks Let’s All Eat Right Day, yet it’s also National Chocolate Covered Nut Day and Open That Bottle Night. Even worse is International Sword Swallowers Day (giving new meaning to “cutting down” on carbs)! I’m going to need someone smarter to help figure this out. Fortunately, it’s Introduce a Girl To Engineering Day as well (same as yesterday’s “DicoverE” Girl Day). Have you heard enough yet? It’s Quiet Day, too, so I should probably stop talking.
Why do Americans use dollars? The word was actually shortened from “Joachimsthaler,” a town in modern-day Germany where they used to mine silver. Massachusetts was the first colony to issue paper currency in 1690, but paper dollars didn’t appear until after the Legal Tender Act was passed on February 25, 1862. The government simply didn’t have enough gold in reserve to cover the Civil War. If they hadn’t started printing money, the first African-American congressman might not ever have been sworn in, let alone eight years later: Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels from Mississippi. Another influential African-American, Muhammad Ali, floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee to win his first boxing world title on this day, too, in 1964.
On This Day: February 26
Carpe diem (that’s Latin for “seize the day”) and let’s have fun with language this February 26! Who needs carnivals when you can tell your own fairy tale? It’s also International Tongue Twister Contest Day and For Pete’s Sake Day, when we celebrate minced oaths (kid-friendly curses). Son of a gun! Dagnabbit! For crying out loud! Can’t you even get “She sells seashells by the seashore” right? Afterwards, send a letter to an elder about all the prizes you won.
February 26 is all about preservation. In 1909, the London public got their first taste of film’s new (albeit still imperfect) ability to preserve natural colors without having to be drawn in by hand. “Lively Stable Blues” became the first jazz record on this day in 1917, preserving the Original Dixieland Jass Band’s unique new sound. The Grand Canyon, previously a national monument, became a national park instead two years later, and exactly ten years later Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming was also dedicated in order to preserve its natural splendor. February 26, 1993, was a matter of self-preservation as a terrorist bomb exploded in New York City’s World Trade Center’s parking garage, leaving a massive, multi-story crater.
On This Day: February 27
Fill up on an extra big breakfast today (don’t skimp on the strawberries and protein) – there’s a great big world out there to explore and over a thousand Pokémon for you to catch! National Pokémon Day and Retro Day pair rather nicely together, don’t they? That’s a no brainer! It’s also World NGO Day (short for “non-governmental organization”). You could see the world for real (check out Italy’s Battle of the Oranges) and feel good about helping the most needy.
Let the good times roll! The very first Mardi Gras occurred on February 27, 1827, celebrating New Orleans’ unique style of entertainment, culture, and even language. They’re not the only underdogs to have made big waves on this day in history. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” was popular enough in 1980 to inspire a one-time-only Grammy category for Best Disco Recording, and Effa Manley became the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. Then there was the American Indian Movement’s 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee, starting February 27, 1973. Two hundred Sioux protestors took hostages and exchanged gunfire with federal agents, simply demanding an investigation into the Bureau of Indian Affairs and broken government treaties.
On This Day: February 28
It may be National Public Sleeping Day, but wake up or you’ll miss all the other cool holidays! There’s plenty to choose from, whether you want to raise awareness of pet spaying, repetitive strain injury, and even rarer diseases, or celebrate snowshoes for you and customized tires for your car (maybe with a nice floral design). Finally, Car Keys and Small Change Day actually honors pockets, which women’s clothes should have many more of! How was that for National Essay Day?
Although deoxyribonucleic acid was first isolated by Swiss scientist Friedrich Miescher in 1869, nobody had any idea what it did until 1943 and how it did it until February 28, 1953. On that day, James Watson and Francis Crick announced having finally found the “secret of life,” or at least DNA’s double-helix polymer structure. They had also received unwitting help from fellow Cambridge researcher Rosalind Franklin when another colleague, Maurice Wilkins, leaked some of Franklin’s findings behind her back. When Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize in 1962, they shared credit with Wilkins, but Franklin had already died, another female scientist robbed of recognition, even unaware herself of the role she had played in this all-important discovery.