CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

20 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate in February

Original image
Getty Images

Valentine’s Day and President’s Day might grant you overpriced flowers and a random Monday off, but February has a bounty of other festivals, holidays, and anniversaries that can offer an offbeat added value to your month.

1. February 5: National Weatherman’s Day


Thinkstock

There’s a 60 percent chance of your local weatherman being at least 20 percent right about his job today, but there’s a 100 percent chance this holiday takes place on February 5. Whatever percent chance you’re convinced this should be a holiday, give a little thanks for the men and women who help you get dressed appropriately in the morning.

2. February 5th: National Pancake Day (as brought to you by IHOP)


Thinkstock

Forget December: This is the most wonderful time of the year. We’re talking about none other than IHOP’s annual National Pancake Day. This year, like the years before it, you can enjoy a free short stack of buttermilks and donate to charity. It’s a win-win. (Except not for your waistline.)

3. February 6: Lame Duck Day


Getty Images

Though the holiday was created to celebrate the introduction of the 20th Amendment on February 6 of 1933, the amendment was actually ratified in January of that year. Lame Duck Day is a way to honor those who just left office after being rendered totally ineffective for a few months. In other words, it is appropriately lame.

4. February 7: 49th Anniversary of the Beatles' First Visit to the United States


Getty Images

Beatlemania invaded our shores on this day in 1964, and has arguably never left.

5. February 8: Laugh and Get Rich Day


Thinkstock

If only it were that easy! Maybe it can be, why not? Given the healing properties of laughter, all you have to lose is your good health if you don't try.

6. February 9: National Read in the Bathtub Day


Thinkstock

Today is the day to treat yourself to a long, warm bath and a good book. But unless you're a fan of severe pruning, this might not be the day to finally finish Infinite Jest.

7. February 10: The First Day of Chinese New Year


Getty Images

It’s the Year of the Snake, but fear not! Arguably the most important traditional Chinese holiday, the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year entails parades, fireworks, dumplings and familial togetherness. The serpentine year is supposed to bring steady progress, so make your first step towards positive returns by heading to your nearest Chinatown and joining in the festivities.

8. February 12: Darwin Day


Getty Images

Charles Darwin was born 204 years ago today (side note: Abe Lincoln was born on exactly the same day). The International Darwin Day Foundation elects February 12 as a day to commemorate the man, science in general, and humanity.

9. February 14: Library Lovers Day


Getty Images

Because sometimes a good book is more emotionally satisfying than a person.

10. February 15: Nirvana Day (also called Paranirvana Day)


Thinkstock

Buddhists believe that on this day the Buddha physically died, but also achieved complete Nirvana. Few can claim similar accomplishments in the field of Enlightenment, but most of us can appreciate the pursuit. Buddhist or not, give yourself a few deep breaths. Heck, you made it through Valentine’s Day alive. You’ve earned a little Nirvana.

11. February 17: National PTA Founders Day


Thinkstock

The specific day seems to vary from state to state, and even school district to school district—but February 17 is designated as a nationwide day to honor the founding of the National Parent Teacher Association, and the resulting legions of embarrassed kids countrywide.

12. February 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day


Getty Images

In some parts of the world, Random Acts of Kindness Day is actually observed on September 1. But what’s the harm in two days of niceness? So as our magnanimous act for the day, we’re happy to grant February 17 equal footing in the kindness department.

13. February 17: 80th Anniversary of Newsweek Magazine

AdAge

When the presses were stopped last year, Newsweek moved exclusively into the digital world—all the more reason to honor its first issue, which dropped this day in 1933, and the many issues that followed.

14. February 21: 41st Anniversary of Nixon’s Historic Beijing Visit


Getty Images

In 1972, a pre-disgrace President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing to make a huge step in normalizing diplomatic relations with China. From the visit, the United States got the beginnings of a beautiful, though sometimes tempestuous, friendship with the Eastern power, and two pandas for the National Zoo.

15. February 22: National Margarita Day

Getty Images

It should come as a surprise to no one that Jimmy Buffett is behind this one. If you have already given up on your Lenten promises, celebrate February 22 by appreciating as many Margaritas as you deem fit. If you happen to live near a Margaritaville drinking establishment, they will be providing specials all day.

16. February 22: Single Tasking Day


Getty Images

The modern day rat race places a heavy emphasis on the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once. Our greatest weakness as a workforce is caring too much, right? Well, for just a day, drop all your multi-tasking impulses and devote your full attention to each bullet on your to-do list. Successful celebration may require you to turn off your smartphone.

17. February 23: World Sword Swallower’s Day

Getty Images

President of Sword Swallowers International Dan Meyer proclaimed February 23, 2013, World Sword Swallower’s Day as a way to raise awareness about the art. On this day at 2:25 p.m., swallowers will “drop sword” at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! odditoriums around the world.

18. February 25: National Pistol Patent Day

Google Patents

It was on this day in 1836 Samuel Colt patented his famous revolver in the United States. Europe got his patent first in 1835 on a different date, which is why this specific holi-date is relegated to a mere “national” status.

19. February 27: Congress Makes an Honest District out of DC

Getty Images

On this day in 1801, Congress declared the District of Columbia officially under its jurisdiction with the Organic Act of 1801. However, it was not until the ratification of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 that the capital district received electoral votes.

20. February 28: National Public Sleeping Day

Thinkstock

In most parts of the United States, the weather might be less than optimal for observing this offbeat holiday, but to the brave and/or foolish among us: wear layers.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Weird
Foreign Relations: 12 Notorious, Alleged UFO Incidents
Original image
iStock

Long before Leonardo da Vinci sketched a flying machine or the Wright Brothers took flight at Kitty Hawk, there were reports of aircrafts soaring through the sky. Though some of those stories of Unidentified Flying Objects (or UFOs) may date as far back as Ancient Egypt, they are firmly ensconced in today's pop culture and accounts of their sightings remain fascinating for believers and skeptics alike. Here are 12 of the most intriguing incidents of alleged UFO sightings.

1. EGYPT // MID-1400S BCE

According to the Tulli Papyrus—the reported writings of Thutmose III, who reigned in the 1400s BCE—something unexplainable was spotted. An excerpt from the annals detailing the incident reads:

In the year 22, in the 3rd month of winter, in the sixth hour of the day, the scribes of House of Life noticed a circle of fire that was coming from the sky. From the mouth it emitted a foul breath. It had no head. Its body was one rod long and one rod wide. It had no voice. And from that the hearts of the scribes became confused and they threw themselves down on their bellies, then they reported the thing to the Pharaoh. … It was recorded in the scrolls of the House of Life.

His Majesty was meditating upon what happened. Now after some days had passed, these things became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shone more in the sky than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of the heavens … Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the Pharaoh looked on with him in their midst. It was after supper. Thereupon, these fire circles ascended higher in the sky towards the south … The Pharaoh caused incense to be brought to make peace on the hearth … And what happened was ordered by the Pharaoh to be written in the annals of the House of Life … so that it be remembered for ever.

The validity of these writings remains uncertain. The original papyrus was lost and only copies of copies of it remain.

2. ROME // 218 BCE

One of the earliest reported UFO sightings can be traced back to about 218 BCE. Around 200 years later, Roman historian Livy recorded a number of strange incidents, likely using some lost list of those earlier sightings. One of the historian's writings included “A spectacle of ships (navium) gleamed in the sky” in Rome. In a report on UFOs [PDF], NASA’s Richard Stothers deemed these sightings "trustworthy and accurate," due to the time-consuming and costly nature of investigations into omens during this era.

3. SPAIN // 1433

On January 5, 1433, the entire court of King Juan II of Castile allegedly claimed to have seen a UFO. Fernán Gómez de Cibdarreal, the king’s physician, reportedly detailed the sighting in a letter. While its authenticity is uncertain, here is an excerpt:

I shall not tire your lordship with this narration, since we had just arrived [to Ciudad Rodrigo] when, walking on Wednesday the 5th of this month of January [1433], we suddenly saw a great flame of yellow fire attached to the sky move from one end to the other; it had inside like a black root and all its borders were more whitish than the middle; and it left with a great roar, causing horses and mules to ran in fear, and my own mule didn’t stop until it touched another mule.

4. NUREMBERG, GERMANY // 1561

BY HANS GLASER, 1561. IMAGE CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

This famous alleged UFO sighting is documented not only in words, but in a woodcut by Hans Glaser. The piece shows the sky full of strange objects and “immense” smoke rising from the earth. Glaser and many others reportedly claimed to have witnessed the occurrence in Nuremberg on April 14, 1561.

The artist included a description with his work as well as a message to skeptics. He wrote: "Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness."

5. TEXAS // 1897

"Texas’ most famous UFO crash" occurred in April 1897. On that day, a cigar-shaped object reportedly crashed into a windmill in Aurora, a small town just north of Fort Worth. The legend has conflicting claims. Some say the alien inside the craft survived, while others believe it died and the residents of the town gave it a Christian burial.

At the time of the crash, E.E. Hayden (sometimes reported as S.E. Haydon), a reporter from the Dallas Morning News, wrote that the spaceship “collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden. The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world."

6. MISSOURI // 1941

One 20th-century incident became a hidden family secret. In April 1941, Rev. William Huffman of Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri was asked to minister at the site of a plane crash. There, Huffman said, he found a saucer with three alien bodies. His granddaughter later recounted the story to local news outlet KFVS, claiming that her grandfather had been sworn to secrecy after the incident.

7. WASHINGTON // 1947

Kenneth Arnold’s reported 1947 sighting is well-known for many reasons, including coining the phrase "flying disc." Just weeks before Roswell—one of the most famous incidents of all time—Arnold was flying his plane near Mount Rainier in Washington State when he said he observed a line of crescent-shaped objects in the sky. He estimated that they were clocking 1700 MPH and described their movements as being like "a saucer if you skip it across water."

8. ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO // 1947

Arnold’s sighting was the first in a series, which also includes the famous Roswell UFO report. According to CNN, the Air Force initially claimed to have found remnants of a flying saucer at the site in New Mexico. Later, they claimed the debris was from a weather balloon and then, much later, that it was an apparatus to detect Soviet nuclear tests. Today, the sighting has cult status, inspiring movies and TV, including the show Roswell. Conspiracy theorists consider it to be one of the most famous UFO cover-ups in history.

9. WEST VIRGINIA // 1952

From UFO reporting to urban legend: As the tale goes, on September 12, 1952, a fireball reportedly fell from the sky and a monster with fiery eyes was found at the crash site in Flatwoods, West Virginia. Descriptions of the Flatwoods Monster vary, though it’s believed to be 10 feet tall, with a glowing green body.

10. BRAZIL // 1957

Antonio Vilas (sometimes spelled "Villas") Boas’ report is one of the first recorded alien abductions in the modern age. On October 16, 1957, Boas, a Brazilian farmer, was working alone in a field when he says a reddish light in the sky zoomed toward him. He ran toward his tractor, but four small figures lifted him off the ground.

He gave a long, detailed description of the encounter, including the way the creatures communicated: "No resemblance whatever to human speech ... I can think of no attempt to describe those sounds, so different were they from anything I have ever heard before ... Those sounds still make me shiver when I think of them! It isn't even possible for me to reproduce them ... my vocal organs are not made for it."

He also claims to have had sexual relations with a naked female in the aircraft, although the two did not kiss. He reportedly was returned to his field about four hours after the abduction and was found to have suffered from radiation poisoning.

11. NEW HAMPSHIRE // 1961

Married couple Barney and Betty Hill also claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Under hypnosis, the pair shared similar accounts of the incident. Betty said, "I was taken on board. Barney was taken into one room and I was taken into another. The one who did the testing we called 'The Examiner.' First, they put me on a stool and they checked my eyes, ears, nose, throat. They put me on a table and said they wanted to check my nervous system. Then, they tried to insert a needle-like instrument in my navel, which caused pain so they stopped doing it. Barney's exam was very much like mine in the beginning except they were interested in his bone structure."

Betty also claims the creatures showed her a star map depicting where they came from. She even redrew it under hypnosis, but at the time, it didn’t correlate with any known area of space. However, years later, statistician David Saunders claimed her drawing resembles the Zeta Reticuli system in the constellation Reticulum, confirming (at least in the eyes of her supporters) some of Hill’s story.

12. KENTUCKY // 1976

On January 6, 1976, three women claimed to have been abducted from a car. In 2010, Mona Stafford, the only living witness, recalled her story to Central Kentucky News. She claimed the three women were driving when they thought they saw a plane crash. Wanting to help, they drove closer, only to find an object in a treetop. The car seemed drawn toward the craft, and hours later the women came to the Hustonville city limits. Their eyes and skin were burning, and the hood of the car had bubbled up.

Separated, the women each detailed identical accounts of the incident. And under hypnosis, they recounted the same tale of being removed from the car and examined.

In the years that followed, Stafford claims she and one of the other women were unable to use the telephone. The women were drawn to high places and often watched the sky, with Stafford explaining, "I still feel like that. Like something’s calling me, and I go out. I’m not a prophet, I’m not predicting nothing, but there’s something in me that says something’s going to happen this time."

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
9 Hacks to Help You Snap the Perfect Selfie
Original image
iStock

For some, selfies seem self-indulgent; for others, they're a just a regular part of daily life. In honor of National Selfie Day (June 21), these nine tips could help upgrade your personal pics from so-so to standout snaps, regardless of whether you're a novice or a pro at capturing the perfect self-portrait.

1. ENHANCE YOUR JAWLINE.

Photographer Peter Hurley explains that taking photos up close can capture jawlines in unflattering ways—what many people call the "10 pounds" added on by cameras can often be attributed to the appearance of a slight or accentuated double chin. Luckily, you can fix this in a pinch with a simple trick: adjusting the angle of your head. Pushing your forehead out and down tightens skin around jawline, diminishing the appearance of sagging skin while defining the neck and adding contrast between the two.

2. INVEST IN A SELFIE STICK.

Selfie sticks might have gotten a bad rap when they blew up the market a few years ago, but the public stigma has mostly subsided (especially now that no one is trying to rebrand them as "monopods" or "narcissticks" anymore). Selfie sticks can be particularly useful when traveling alone or for trying to catch the perfect background view when your arms just won't reach. Plus, these simple contraptions make selfies with groups of friends so much easier and higher quality.

3. GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM.

Woman taking a selfie.
iStock

If you tend to take a lot of mirror selfies in the restroom, it’s time to pick a new backdrop. Ditch the MySpace-era bathroom selfie for a brighter, less soap-scummy room. Also, the fluorescent, yellow lighting in bathrooms can make you look prematurely aged, while mirrors will reflect unflattering lighting in all directions, essentially creating the worst possible filter.

4. BE AWARE OF YOUR LIGHTING.

Lighting truly makes a selfie, so swap out fluorescent overhead lights for more natural light that makes you glow. Larger, diffused bulbs are softer on your complexion than smaller bulbs, which create harsh, direct lighting. Portrait photographer Sarah Sloboda also recommends facing your light source (whether that be an open window or a soft-lit lamp) and keeping lights at eye-level—the most flattering position for face-on selfies.

5. ADD MORE CURVES TO YOUR POSE.

Model Tess Holliday recommends striking a pose to add more definition to full-body snaps. Placing a hand on your waist and popping a knee can add curves and visual dimension, especially in billowy or non-form-fitting clothing. While at first the photo pose can feel a little unnatural, it’ll soon become second nature when selfie after selfie looks great.

6. USE THE RULE OF THIRDS.

Woman taking a selfie with a camera.
iStock

Just because you're taking a selfie doesn't mean you can’t keep to the rules of photo composition. The Rule of Thirds—which divides photos into a three-by-three grid—suggests that you can take flattering and visually interesting images by moving the subject off-center. For a new take, position your face in the left or right upper-third of the photo, with your eyes about one-third of the way down.

7. EXPERIMENT TO FIND YOUR BEST ANGLE.

Finding the right angle for your face can make all the difference. Selfie aficionado Kim Kardashian (she did publish an entire book of selfies, so we trust she knows what she's talking about) recommends her trick for slimming down her face: chin tucked down, with the camera held slightly above face level. This angle can soften round faces while eliminating neck rolls. If your arms are feeling a little short, the selfie stick can really help here.

8. EMBRACE FILTERS.

In the world of selfies, retouching isn’t vain. In fact, photographer Ryan Hebert says you shouldn’t be afraid to "smack a filter on it," simply because it makes selfies more flattering. If you're not a fan of adding full filters, it's still OK to retouch certain areas by softening harsh lines or adding more shadows. But if you're simply looking too good for a filter, don't forget to add that #nofilter hashtag.

9. REALLY, JUST DON'T OVERTHINK IT.

Man takes a selfie with the Eiffel Tower.
iStock

If your camera roll is full of attempted selfies, stop and think about what your end goal is. Are you wanting to document the moment or are you aiming for a model-esque headshot? A good selfie should be uplifting and easily sharable with friends and family to let them know that you're experiencing something fun or unique, or that you're just looking really fly. The longer you take to compose your photo, the more likely it’ll look forced or unnatural. It’s just a selfie—so don't stress it. There are plenty more to be had.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios