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Seasonal Fun in March

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for March, 2003

Here in New England, the term for March is "Mud Season." But it's certainly not all dreary and dismal! For starters, spring is in the air, after a long, hard COLD winter. We're supposed to have our first day above 40 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this, though it's too rainy to go out and celebrate.

Still, a lot of celebrating goes on in March.. Surely, no matter where you are, you can find something to plug into.

* Carnival: Yesterday, March 4, was Fat Tuesday. Many cities have Mardi Gras festivals, not just New Orleans. In fact, almost anywhere else will be cheaper and more pleasant than the Big Easy on Crowded Tuesday--so plan now for next year. Big celebrations are held around the world: Okinawa, Brazil, Greece, Japan, Wales, Italy, and many parts of the West Indies. Rather stay at home? Try Seattle, Mobile, AL, sleepy little Hanover, NH, and dozens of other US cities and towns. For 2004, the date is February 24.

* Maple Syrup Season: In the Northeast United States and many parts of Canada, March is the time for syrup making. The farms and forests of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York are filled with sap buckets, and the sugar houses emit the wonderful aroma of boiling sap. Up our way, most of the syrup makers have free demonstrations of sugaring, and many offer pancake breakfasts at a reasonable price. If the weather cooperates, try that old-timey favorite, Sugar-on-Snow.

* Purim: There are not many Bacchanalian holidays in the Jewish tradition, but there is Purim: a celebration of a probably apocryphal victory over the genocidal Persian Prime Minister Haman, with the help of the Empire's Jewish queen. A night of costumes, drinking, sweet cookies, and revelry plus the reading of the story (in Hebrew, usually) and drowning out Haman's name with noisemakers at synagogues around the world. March 17.

* Vernal Equinox: March 21 is a Pagan holiday dating back thousands of years. The Easter and Passover stories are closely tied to this event (see some of the connections at http://www.religioustolerance.org/spring_equinox.htm), even in the similarity of the name Easter to the Pagan Ostara or Eostar. (Easter and Passover are both deep into April this year.)

* April Fools Day/Joke Day: a few hours past March, but before our next issue.

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