March 1, 2015

It Happened on March 1st

Let's lift a glass to our beer brethren in Iceland.

Beer Day in Iceland
Imagine how you'd feel if you hadn't had a beer in 75 years, and you can appreciate how much Iceland loves its beer today. That's right, Iceland had a 75-year ban on beer, and only lifted the Prohibition in 1989. Since then, Icelanders have celebrated March 1 as Beer Day, the anniversary of the first day beer sales became legal. (Whew - the United States only had a Prohibition for 13 years, and see how that turned out.) 

The Lindberg Kidnapping, 1932
On a less happy note, today is also the anniversary of the Lindberg kidnapping. On March 1, 1932, Charles Augustus Lindberg II, the son of the famous aviator, was kidnapped from his home in Hopewell, New Jersey. Although the ransom was paid, the baby was later found dead, apparently from a blow to the head. Bruno Hauptmann was later convicted of the crime and was executed in 1936. The famous case led to the Federal Kidnapping Act (also known as the Lindberg Law), which made kidnapping a federal crime, once a kidnapper had crossed a state line with the victim. 

Salem Witch Hysteria Begins, 1692
It's difficult to pick a particular date to commemorate the Salem Witch Trials. The first arrest took place on February 29th. The first trial was held on June 27th. Today, March 1st, is the anniversary of the day that Tituba broke down and "confessed" to being a witch. Tituba, a slave owned by Samuel Parris, was actually the third person accused by Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, but she was the first to confess - and that started the whole ball rolling. Before it was over, 19 people had been hanged for witchcraft and another had been crushed to death for refusing to plead. Another five people died in prison. Tituba herself, however, was never tried or convicted. 

William Gaines's Birthday, 1922
Today is also the birthday of publisher William Gaines, the founder of Mad magazine. The publication started out as a comic, but the format was changed in order to avoid the limitations imposed by the Comic Code Authority. For years it was the most successful American magazine that was published without any advertising - because Gaines felt that advertising would compromise the magazine's ability to parody American consumerism. (Mad did accept ads for its first two years of existence as a comic book. In 2001, eight years after Gaines' death, the magazine began accepting advertising again.) 

St. David's Day
March 1st marks the celebration of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. Since St. David was an ascetic monk, drinking only water and eating only bread with salt and herbs, it wouldn't be appropriate to celebrate St. David's Day with the same abandon we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Still, you might enjoy a nice bowl of cawl (lamb and vegetable stew), and wear a leek in your bonnet. 

National Pig Day 
In the United States, March 1st is National Pig Day, a holiday started in 1972 by two sisters, Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave of Lubbock, Texas. Rave said the purpose of Pig Day is "to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals." Sounds good to me. Hmmmm, bacon!

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