17 Amazing Labor Day Sales to Check Out

GeorgeRudy/iStock via Getty Images
GeorgeRudy/iStock via Getty Images

If long holiday weekends put you in a mood to spend, you’re in luck. A number of retailers are promoting Labor Day sales and savings on everything from apparel to books. Take a look at some of the best deals on tap to tide you over until Black Friday.

1. Sears


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Nothing goes together quite like Labor Day sales and appliances, and Sears has you covered with up to 40 percent off on products big and small, like refrigerators, vacuums, and washers. Take a look at the selection here.

2. Ann Taylor

The popular professional-attire store will take 40 percent off full-priced styles with the promo code LASTHURRAH. You can also get an extra 10 percent off full-price tops and sweaters.

3. Article

Enjoy 30 percent off Article’s selection of trend-setting home furniture.

4. Barnes & Noble

The exterior of a Barnes & Noble store in New York City is pictured in January 2019
Drew Angerer, Getty Images

Take 50 percent off select book titles, including hot new releases, classics, and Barnes & Noble Exclusive Editions. (Be sure to pick up a copy of Mental Floss's all-new special print edition while you're there.)

5. Wayfair

Stock up on essential home goods with Wayfair’s clearance sale, which offers up to 75 percent off their closeout inventory.

6. iRobot

Over at iRobot, you can save up to $150 on select Roomba models through September 7.

7. Casper

Rest easier when you take 10 percent off Casper’s line of mattresses. Use the code LABORDAY.

8. Nordstrom

The exterior of a Nordstrom store in New York City is pictured in May 2018
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Beginning August 30, the apparel retailer will cut prices by up to 40 percent for an end-of-season sale.

9. Osprey

Take 25 percent off select outdoor packs and up to 50 percent off items from last season.

10. Skagen

Save on time at this online retailer. Eye-catching watches start at $49.99.

11. Forsake

Get free two-day UPS shipping on any order placed during Labor Day weekend at this popular footwear shop.

12. Best Buy

The exterior of a Best Buy store in Bruno, California is pictured in November 2015
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Save up to 40 percent on select appliance models, including washers and dryers from LG and Whirlpool.

13. Leesa

Get $200 off the Leesa mattress and receive two free pillows along with it.

14. Crate & Barrel

Spruce up your living areas and take 15 to 20 percent off select upholstery furniture.

15. Old Navy


J. Michael Jones / Getty Images

Take 50 percent off all jeans, dresses, and tees beginning August 29.

16. J.Crew

With the appropriately downtrodden promo code SUNSET, you can wave goodbye to summer by taking 40 percent off your purchase from J.Crew.

17. Amazon

Not to be outdone, Amazon is promoting big deals this Labor Day on TVs from TCL, LG, and Sony.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Why Do People Toss Beads During Mardi Gras?

Kameleon007/iStock via Getty Images
Kameleon007/iStock via Getty Images

Each year, more than 1 million people descend on New Orleans for Mardi Gras, an organized parade of debauchery and alcohol-induced torpor that may be the closest thing modern civilization has to the excesses of ancient Rome. Saturating the scene on Bourbon Street are plastic beads, handed or tossed to partygoers as a kind of currency. Some bare their breasts or offer booze in exchange for the tokens; others catch them in the air and wear the layers around their necks. Roughly 25 million pounds of beads are in circulation annually, making them as much a part of the Fat Tuesday celebration as sugary cocktails and King Cake.

Traditions and rituals can be hard to pin down, but Mardi Gras historians believe the idea of distributing trinkets began in the 1870s or 1880s, several hundred years after French settlers introduced the celebration to Louisiana in the 1600s. Party organizers—known locally as krewes—handed out baubles and other shiny objects to revelers to help commemorate the occasion. Some of them threw chocolate-covered almonds. They were joined by more mischievous attendees, who threw dirt or flour on people in an effort to stir up a little bit of trouble.

Why beads? Tiny tokens that represent wealth, health, and other prosperity have been a part of human history for centuries. In Egypt, tokens were handed out in the hopes they would guarantee a happy afterlife; the abacus, or bead-based system of accounting, used trinkets to perform calculations; pagan pre-winter rituals had people throwing grains into fields hoping to appease gods that would nourish their crops.

Humans, argues archaeologist Laurie Wilkie, display "bead lust," or a penchant for shiny objects. It's one possible reason why Mardi Gras attracts so many people with their arms in the air, elated to receive a gift of cheap plastic.

Photo of a well-dressed bulldog celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Mario Tama, Getty Images

The early beads were made of glass before more efficient production methods overseas led to an influx of plastic beads in the 1960s. Unlike some of the more organic predecessors, these beads have come under criticism for being a source of health problems and pollution. Made from petroleum, they often harbor lead that seeps into the soil and rubs off on hands. (One estimate puts the lead deposit after a Mardi Gras celebration at 4000 pounds.) In 2017, New Orleans paid $7 million in clean-up costs to remove discarded beads from drain basins. In 2018, they installed gutter guards to prevent the necklaces from getting into the system in the first place. Meanwhile, scientists have been working to create an even more eco-friendly version of the beads—like a biodegradable version made from microalgae.

Environmental hazards aside, the beads of Mardi Gras have become as much a holiday staple as Christmas stockings or Thanksgiving turkeys. But the passion and desperate need for them is only temporary; in 2018, 46 tons of the beads were removed from just five blocks of the main parade route on Charles Street. And no bacchanal should leave that much bad juju behind.

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8 Things That Happened on Leap Day

On Leap Day in 1692, the first warrants were issued in the Salem Witch Trials.
On Leap Day in 1692, the first warrants were issued in the Salem Witch Trials.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Since Leap Day comes just once every four years, events that happen on February 29 are somewhat rare. Check out these eight events that are extra memorable thanks to their timing.

1. On Leap Day in 1940, Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award.

Actress Hattie McDaniel took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 1940 Academy Awards for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. The win made her the first African American to receive the award.

2. Buddy Holly’s lost glasses were found on Leap Day in 1959.

Buddy Holly in his signature glasses
Buddy Holly in his signature glasses.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The singer's famous glasses disappeared for more than two decades after he died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959. Holly’s trademark frames, along with the Big Bopper’s watch, were thrown clear of the plane wreckage. The items remained buried in the snow until the spring thaw, when they were turned over to the County Sheriff’s office and filed away in a sealed manila envelope, where they were forgotten. The envelope was rediscovered in 1980 by County Sheriff Jerry Allen, who came across it while looking for old court records. The discovery was announced on February 29, 1980. The glasses were returned to Holly’s widow, Maria Elena.

3. The Henriksen siblings—all of them—were born on Leap Day.

On February 29, 1960, Heidi Henriksen was born. Her brother, Olav, joined the family exactly four years later. And in 1968, to the day, Leif-Martin Henriksen entered the world. The Norwegian siblings held the Guinness record for most babies born on a Leap Day until 2012, when the Estes family from Utah tied them: Xavier Estes was born on February 29, 2004; Remington Estes in 2008; and Jade Estes in 2012.

4. Davy Jones died on Leap Day in 2012.

In 2012, the Monkee passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was just 66, leaving many fans in shock at his unexpected death.

5. Hank Aaron became the highest-paid Major League Baseball Player on Leap Day.

A $200,000-a-year contract might seem like peanuts for a MLB player today, but by 1972 standards, it was a big deal. So big, in fact, that the three-year contract Aaron inked to play for the Atlanta Braves made him the highest paid baseball player in the league.

6. The future Pope John Paul II was nearly killed on Leap Day.

Pope John Paul II riding in the Popemobile
Pope John Paul II riding in the Popemobile in 2004.

Back when he was just 24-year-old Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II was walking home when a German army truck hit him and left him on the road for dead. The driver of a lumber truck picked him up and took him to the hospital, where Wojtyla remained unconscious for nine hours. It’s said that the incident inspired him to switch to a spiritual career path.

7. Family Circus debuted on Leap Day in 1960.

On February 29, 1960, Bil Keane’s long-running comic strip debuted as The Family Circle. Inspired by Keane’s own wife and children, Family Circus is now drawn by Keane’s youngest son, Jeff—the inspiration for “Jeffy” in the comic strip.

8. The first warrants were issued in the Salem Witch Trials on Leap Day.

Salem residents Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba were accused of witchcraft on February 29, 1692. After refusing to confess, Good was hanged and Osborne died in prison; Tituba, a slave, admitted to her supposed crimes and was released from jail a year later.

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