March 14: Celebrating Butterflies, Potato Chips, Pi and Popcorn
March 14: Celebrating Butterflies, Potato Chips, Pi and Popcorn
This might be hard to fathom, but there are holidays — sometimes more than one — for just about every day of the year. While they’re not in the same category as holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, etc., these occasions are being celebrated by someone, somewhere, and if you’re so inclined, you can join the fun.
March 14 is a Thursday this year, and for most of us, it will be just another day on the calendar. But for some, it’s a holiday. Actually, there are four holidays on March 14 — but your boss will probably not go for giving you a paid day off to celebrate any of them.
Learn About Butterflies Day
What a great idea for a holiday. It’s fun day, because everyone likes butterflies — and they have special significance for me. In the months immediately following my dad’s death, I took long walks along the river that runs behind my condo, often accompanied by butterflies. They were so present that I started wondering if they were a sign from my dad — or maybe his spirit was in them.
Year and years later, I still love seeing butterflies. They often seem to flit around me even though I’m now accompanied on walks by my dog, who seems fascinated by them as well.
When I heard about this special day, it brought a smile to my face, but also a question: Why March? In San Diego, where I live, it makes sense, since we can see butterflies year-round, but that’s certainly not true for more wicked climates.
In researching this day, the logic of its date became apparent. Those who live in places that have four seasons get outdoors and become busy with all the activities of summer. It's far better to focus on learning in the winter, and be prepared to better appreciate the colorful, winged creatures when they reappear.
In keeping with the spirit of this very special day, the best way to celebrate is by learning more about the wide range of butterflies. You can buy a butterfly identification book, so you’ll know what butterflies visit your space, and you can learn how to attract them to your yard by planting flowers they like. (https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/butterfly-garden-plants-host-attract-butterflies)
National Potato Chip Day
National Potato Chip Day celebrates the ever-popular potato chip. It’s unclear who came up with this holiday, but it should come as no surprise that potato chips are America's #1 snack food. Regular (or plain) potato chips are by far the most popular, outdistancing other popular flavors like barbecue, sour cream & onion, oil & vinegar, and ranch.
I used to eat a lot more potato chips than I do now. Today, as I try to follow a healthier diet, salty snacks like these are special treats — so perhaps I need to go for it on March 14. My favorites: sour cream & onion and barbecue.
You may not be aware that potato chips were first made by Chef George Crum in Saratoga Springs, NY on August 24, 1853. Thanks, George! Wonder what made him think to place thin strips of potato in oil?
Speaking of which, I’ve never done it, but it’s really not hard to make your own potato chips! (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/73135/homestyle-potato-chips/) It’s a great way to celebrate National Potato Chip Day — or you can simply eat potato chips during meals and as snacks.
National Pi Day
Yes, it’s National Pi Day — not Pie. This holiday was created in 1989 by Larry Shaw, a physicist, and it was originally celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where he worked. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution (HRES 224),, recognizing March 14 as National Pi Day.
This holiday celebrates Pi, a mathematical concept and a number that never ends — at least no one and no computer has found the end yet. Often, it’s rounded it off to 3.14. The characters on “The Big Bang Theory” would probably celebrate National Pi Day, along with mathematicians all over the world.
March 14 is the birthday of physicist Albert Einstein, who was born on that date in 1879. The date is also represented as 3.14. It’s strongly suspected that some combination of these two facts is why Shaw created the day on March 14 — but Pi was around long before Einstein was born.
If you want to dazzle your friends with some Pi Day trivia, here you go: On National Pi Day in 2004, Daniel Tammet recited 22,514 digits. Maybe that was celebrated by enjoying some potato chips — or popcorn — both very appropriate on March 14.
Popcorn Lovers Day
Who doesn’t love popcorn? It only makes sense that there should be a special day just for popcorn lovers, and it’s thanks to Bob Matthews of Rochester, NY, who created this holiday in 2012 to honor his favorite snack.
Popcorn Lovers Day is celebrated on the second Thursday in March — which is March 14 this year — an homage to the fact that Bob and his wife have popcorn on Thursdays, all year long. And, they don’t just head to the store and buy kernels for popping; an avid gardener, Bob has grown and dried popcorn for popping. Want to try that? See below.
It’s true popcorn is good for you — when eaten plain. Of course, it’s not as healthy when it's loaded with salt and butter, but it sure tastes a lot better. In keeping with my healthy eating habits, I use an air popper at home when I enjoy popcorn and don’t adorn it with salt or butter; I even share it with my dog. At the movies, I may go a little “wild” and ask for just a bit of melted butter to dress up the otherwise dry kernels.
As you may suspect, this day is intended to enjoy popcorn and share it with others. You might celebrate by bringing some popcorn to work — or microwaving it there — and inviting your colleagues to dig in. You can have it in a traditional way or you can add any number of flavors to it. Some of the most popular flavors for popcorn are cheddar cheese, parmesan garlic and even hot pepper. The only requirement on Popcorn Lovers Day is that you eat plenty of it.
Now, as promised, here’s a tutorial on how to grow and dry popcorn:
Purchase popcorn seeds — not regular sweet corn seeds.
Grow it the same way you’d grow any corn plant. (http://www.gardenersnet.com/vegetable/corn.htm)
Leave the ears on the plant for as long as possible — until the husks are dry and papery if weather permits.
To dry them, you have two options:
Hang ears to dry: Pull the husks back from the ears to expose the popcorn kernels. Hang ears in a cool, dry place for at least 3-4 weeks. Before putting them away, remove a few kernels, and see if they pop properly. If not, they’re not yet dry.
Slow dry in the oven: Heat oven to 200 degrees. Pull back and remove the husks. Place ears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven overnight, leaving the door ajar. Leaving the door ajar is important, to allow moisture to escape, and so it doesn't get too hot. Remove from the oven, and hang ears in a cool, dry place for 1-2 weeks. Try popping a few kernels before storing them, to ensure they’re dry.
Store the dried kernels on the cob, or remove them from the cob by rubbing two dried ears against each other and put the kernels in an airtight zippered bag, jar or plastic container that can be stored on a shelf or in the fridge.
What holidays would you like to see celebrated? Let us know — and it might catch on!