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A Leap Above Celebrating Leap Day’s Unique and Storied History
What would you do with one extra day? Every four years, we are confronted with that very question. The first leap day originated in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar learned from the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria that the 355-day Roman calendar was about 10 and 1/4 days shorter than the solar calendar. He introduced the 365-day Julian calendar and added an intercalary day — leap day — every four years to cover the extra 1/4 day. It wouldn’t be for another 200 years that astronomers would discover that the calendar system was still about 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds short. It would last this way until 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced a better method for calculating leap year. This method has become the system we use today, and it led to Feb. 29 being the standard leap day. Since then, we make up for lost time with one “free” day every four years. Folklore and superstitions surrounding leap day have continued to be passed down throughout history. Here are just a few of the quirkiest and most interesting stories about this phenomenon. February’s Other Romantic Holiday Legend claims that in 1288, St. Bridget approached St. Patrick with a unique problem. It was customary for men to propose to women, leaving many women waiting impatiently for their men to make a commitment. St. Patrick, ever the
generous man, agreed to allow women one day every four years when they could propose to their beaus. Thus, leap day became known as “Bachelor’s Day” for many Europeans. Some legends claim that if the man refused, he would have to buy the woman silk or furs, which might have been reason enough for women to pop the question in the first place. Historians believe this leap day tradition inspired Sadie Hawkins dances in the U.S., during which girls are encouraged to ask boys to accompany them to the dance. The Dark Side of Leap Day Many people view leap day and leap years as bad omens. For example, many Greeks believe marrying during a leap year is bad luck, so much so that USA Today predicts as many as 1 in 5 Greek couples avoid marrying during those years. But the dark history of leap day may have more weight than old superstitions. The first arrest warrant during the dramatic and deadly saga of the Salem Witch Trials was issued on Feb. 29, 1692. The trails would end in May 1693, but by then, more than 200 people had been accused of witchcraft, 30 of those were tried in court, and 19 people were killed. Happy Birthday, Leaplings! … Unless It’s the Year 3000 The odds of being born on a leap day are relatively good, at 1 in 1,461 chances. Every four years, “leaplings,” as they are affectionately called, enjoy a “real” birthday along with the more than 4 million people who share a birthday with them. In Norway, one family celebrates
three siblings who were all born on leap day. The Henriksen siblings, Heidi, born in 1960; Olav, born in 1964; and Leif-Martin, born 1968, share this birthday every four years. They were joined by the Utah- based Estes family in 2012, who are raising leaplings born in 2004, 2008, and 2012. And, despite how few birthdays leaplings get, some have even fewer. Leap day may appear to happen every four years, but that isn’t always the case. In general, leap year does not happen during years that are divisible by 100. The only exception is if the year is also divisible by 400. So, the years 1600 and 2000 had leap days, but the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 did not. Likewise, in the year 3000, for example, we won’t celebrate an extra day in February. Luckily, 2020 will have this unique and special day. The question is, how will you celebrate? -David Brauns
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Healthy Eating Habits From Around the World STICK A FORK IN IT
India: The Spice Delicious spices comprise the bold flavors in traditional Indian dishes, and many even boast health benefits. Common ingredients like ginger and turmeric can decrease inflammation in the body while curry powder can aid in digestion and strengthen your bones and heart. You Try It: Using your own spices, have a spice-blending competition. Taste-test the creations and decide which recipes are good enough for a repeat and which ones will go down in family history as lofty experiments. Who knows? You may just discover your family’s next favorite meal. Mexico: The Lunch Diners in Mexico often step away from the hustle and bustle of their busy days to enjoy their largest meal of the day: lunch. Though it may surprise you, this cultural tradition has surprising health benefits. Nutritional experts point to making lunch the largest meal of the day as the healthiest dining option, especially to control weight. More calories at lunch
In the U.S., there’s nothing we love more than our large meat-and-potatoes dinners, but, according to nutritional experts, American-style meals are expanding our waistlines and leading to chronic medical conditions. Push back against these unhealthy habits by checking out these healthier food traditions from around the globe that your whole family will enjoy. Japan: The Appearance In Japanese culture, an emphasis is placed on the look and color of the meal instead of the portion size. Japanese chefs opt for smaller portions of colorful fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish to create gorgeous, nutrient-packed meals. The result is a dish that is as beautiful as it is nutritious. You Try It: Learn the art of making sushi and other Japanese meals with your family. See what creative combinations your family can create, and vote for the best one! As an added bonus, since portions are small, meals are easily transportable to school and work.
daily calories overall, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
You Try It: Short of packing bigger lunches for your kiddos, try out this style of eating during the weekends. Enjoy large, family-style midday meals and smaller dinners with your loved ones on Saturdays and Sundays to reap the nutritional benefits of a large lunch. For more information and tips on how to transform your eating habits, visit DoSomething.org.
keep hunger at bay, which means less afternoon snacking and fewer
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Something Sweet In the United States, Americans with a sweet tooth spend over $22 billion on chocolate candy every year. Around 24% of all these sales occur around Valentine’s Day alone. Valentine’s Day is the third biggest holiday for chocolate sales, right behind Christmas and Easter. This month, we’re celebrating the love of chocolate with a few important facts about this sweet treat. 3 Delicious Facts About Chocolate
poisoning. A single Hershey kiss won’t act like a cyanide tablet if eaten by an adult Great Dane, but if a miniature Chihuahua gets into a heart-shaped box of chocolates, call your veterinarian right away. Dark Chocolate, Superfood? Countless articles have reported on various studies which found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate, called “flavonoids,” can lower blood pressure, boost memory, and even improve your overall heart health. However, most of these studies were funded by Mars Inc., a company that makes chocolate. Experts warn of a bias in this research. Quality research not funded by chocolate companies has been done but has only found so far that any health benefits from chocolate are small and short-term. If you’re craving chocolate, treat yourself! But if you want a healthy snack, stick to leafy greens.
The Fourth Flavor Tired of having only three options for chocolate? You’re in luck! In 2017, Barry Callebaut, a Belgian–Swiss cocoa company, introduced the world to ruby chocolate. Named for its naturally bright pink color, ruby chocolate is sweet like white chocolate with a fruity flavor. Made from ruby cocoa beans, this treat is the first new chocolate flavor to be created in decades. Whether you prefer dark, milk, white, or ruby chocolate, may your Valentine’s Day be sweet and your box of chocolates be full of pleasant surprises.
Dogs and Chocolate Everyone knows dogs can’t have chocolate, but do you know why? It’s because of theobromine, a compound in chocolate. While humans can digest theobromine with no problem, the compound can build up to toxic levels in dogs. Different types of chocolates have different levels of theobromine. Dark chocolate or baking chocolate will have a lot, while milk chocolate or white chocolate have far less.
It’s important to know that the size of your dog is also a factor in theobromine
WORD SEARCH February
Valentine’s Day is all about love … and chocolate. Enjoy these chocolate peanut butter date truffles with your date this Valentine’s Day.
Directions 1. Using a food processor, blend dates and sea salt until dough can be formed into a ball. Slowly add enough warm water to mixture to thicken dough. 2. Roll dough into tablespoon- sized balls. Freeze for 20–30 minutes. 3. In microwave, warm 1/4 cup peanut butter for 30 seconds, then drizzle peanut butter on Ingredients • 1 lb medjool dates, pitted (about 1 1/2 cups) • 1/2 tsp sea salt • Warm water
• 1/4 cup peanut butter • 1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
top of balls. Freeze balls for another 20 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, in microwave, warm chocolate with coconut oil until melted. Stir well. 5. Coat balls in chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 6. Top with additional salt and freeze for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
AQUARIUS ASH CHOCOLATE CUPID DONOR
GROUNDHOG LOVE PISCES
ROSES SKIING SNOWBANK SUGAR VALENTINE
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How Will You Celebrate Leap Day?
International Eating Habits Every Family Will Enjoy!
What Some of Our Clients Are Saying
What You Didn’t Know About Chocolate
Create Your Own Odyssey
Create Your Own Odyssey Mythical Adventures Await in the Mediterranean
Gozo, Malta While Odysseus’ journey was perilous, he did enjoy one peaceful stop. Odysseus spent seven years on the mythical island of Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso. Historians suspect that Ogygia was Gaudos, now modern- day Gozo, Malta. Gozo is home to the Ġgantija temples, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids. In addition to exploring its archaeological marvels, Gozo’s visitors can also enjoy snorkeling, horseback riding, and other memorable adventures. Ithaca, Greece If you want to chart your own odyssey, make your final stop Odysseus’ home, the island of Ithaca. Covered in lush greenery and quaint villages, Ithaca is a wonderful place to relax at the end of your trip. Visitors can enjoy their morning
One of the oldest stories in Western literature is Homer’s “The Odyssey.” This epic poem tells the story of Odysseus and his long journey home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus’ travels were fraught with mythical monsters and magic, many of the places he visited are said to be inspired by real islands in the Mediterranean. Even today, travelers flock to these islands looking for peace, adventure, and epic stories of their own. “The Odyssey” is the tale of Odysseus rescuing his crew from Polyphemus, a man-eating Cyclops. It’s said that Polyphemus made his home on what is now modern-day Sicily. Fortunately, there are no Cyclopes in Sicily today; there are only cultural festivals, world- class golf courses, and delicious food. Sicily, Italy One of the most popular stories in
coffee by a seaside cafe before lounging on a secluded beach for the rest of the day. It’s no wonder why Odysseus fought so hard to get back to Ithaca! With dozens of other islands to explore, the Mediterranean is the perfect place to plan your own odyssey — minus the mythical monsters, of course.
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