Discover more from LD Lewis—LEEP Ink Newsletter of Events
March into Spring (or Fall), 2023
Curious events, holidays and trends in March 2023
We're heading to the end of the first quarter of 2023. Several significant religious holidays occur between late February through early April, which I covered in detail in last year's A Whole Lot'a Holy Part I and Part II.
Many that occurred in April last year will fall in March of 2023. Purim is March 6/7. Holi is March 7/8. Ramadan begins March 22 and runs through April 19, 2023. The Christian fast of Lent is also occurring between February 22 and April 6 (Orthodox Lent runs from February 27 - April 13, 2023).
Passover and Easter occur in early April. It's also the start of a new year in several faith calendars, generally around March 20. Nowruz leads that list.
Key themes in March include the arrival of spring or fall, Saint Patrick's Day (March 17), Women's History Month, and Greek-American and Irish-American Heritage Months. If you're in the United States, March Madness is the annual NCAA basketball playoffs, and the Academy Awards (March 12) feature the year's best films. Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia hosts its major festival of history and culture, the Al-Jenadriyah Festival beginning March 1. Finally, many of the health events in March focus on digestive tract issues.
The Vatican, the world's smallest country, celebrates its National Day, marking the installation of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013.
Liberation Day in Bulgaria is March 3 (1878). Independence Days are celebrated in Bosnia-Herzegovina (March 1, 1992), Bangladesh (March 26, 1971), Ghana(March 6, 1957), Greece (March 25, 1832), Mauritius (March 12, 1968), Namibia(March 21, 1990), Tunisia (March 20, 1956) and Independence Restoration Day in Lithuania (March 11, 1990).
Let's start off with an event named after one of my favorite Bible stories, Good Samaritan Day.
GOOD SAMARITAN DAY
Dates: March 13, 2023; October 13, 2023
Champion: Historical Anniversary, New York City, Ricard Lutz
Good Samaritan Day, there are two, is named after the parable of the good Samaritan from the Bible's New Testament (Luke 10: 25-37); the story promotes universal respect, empathy, and the importance of being a good and selfless person by acting rather than remaining passive in the face of need.
March's Good Samaritan Day was declared in 1964 in New York City after Catherine "Kitty" Genovese was viciously stabbed and murdered before witnesses on the city's streets.
Why does a murder of a single woman deserve a day of remembrance? At the senseless crime scene, nearly 40 people witnessed it, allegedly stood by, and watched as Catherine screamed for help and then died. Not one of the bystanders intervened.
The second Good Samaritan Day occurs in October.
The New York murder of Catherine Genovese was forgotten over the years until the same thing happened again on Foshan Market Street in Guangdong, China. A young girl named Wang Yue was run over by two vehicles on October 13, 2011. Dozens of people gathered on the sidewalk, watching the cars plow over the young girl and doing nothing to save her until an older woman named Chen Xianmei rushed to her aid. It was too late. Crushed under the weight of the vehicles, Wang Yue died.
October's Good Samaritan Day was created by Richard Lutz, appalled by the indifference of the onlookers, as a tribute to Yue's life. It falls on the anniversary of her deadly attack.
With today's propensity to get images that will trend on social media rather than societal engagement, Good Samaritan Day and the two women killed behind each remind us to be present in this world, assist when possible, and reject becoming a passive, dispassionately callous assemblage of malignant apathy.
Date: March 11, 2023
Champion: Historical Anniversary; National Holiday
Moshoeshoe's Day has to be one of the most delightful events linguistically. Simply saying Chief Moshoeshoe's name brings a smile to the face.
Born in 1776, Chief Moshoeshoe became the first king of the African nation of Lesotho, uniting the Basotho people. He was known for his generosity toward defeated enemies. Upon his death on March 11, 1870, colonialism regrettably became a reality for his people. Today Moshoeshoe is celebrated for his diplomacy and as the nation's first king.
Date: March 10-19, 2023
Location: Markedsgata, Norway
Champion: Finnmarksløpet AS
Finnmarksløpet is Europe's longest dog sled race (1200 km/745 miles). It was first run in 1981. The sporting event is so popular that it garners 33 percent of the television viewing audience in northern Europe each year. The nine-day event includes mushers, live music, and entertainment venues live-streamed.
The Iditarod, slightly longer at 1569 km/975 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, runs March 4 - 19, 2023. This year it is roughly the distance from Seattle, Washington, to Los Angeles, California.
Dates: March 6, 2023, West Australia;
March 13, 2023, Tasmania & Victoria
Champion: Provincial Holiday
Labour Day in Australia is a national holiday, but it is complicated as each province celebrates on different days, which can occur in March, May, or October. West Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria provinces observe in March., albeit on different days.
Labour Day is a localized May Day celebration conceived first in North America. American and Canadian unions conferenced, and in 1884 they declared May 1, 1886, as a day of strike action supporting the eight-hour workday. On that day in Chicago, a crowd of 80,000 workers were attacked by police, and six workers were gunned down. In subsequent protests, another 11 workers were killed. A further seven workers were arrested, of whom four were hanged, and a fifth killed himself to avoid the noose. Two others received life sentences.
The May Day tradition of striking took off as an annual protest globally.
Two years later, Australian workers rallied to the cause of British dockworkers during the famous Dockers Strike of 1888. Of US$ 48,000 contributed from overseas to support the striking workers, more than US$ 30,000 was sent by Australian workers.
May Day continued to gain momentum. By 1890, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that in Vienna that year, the wealthy business owners and elites were so unnerved by worker support for May Day that they placed their valuables in bank safes and safe deposit boxes for the day.
In 1891 squatters in Queensland, Australia, determined to break the Shearers Union employed scab labor. The Shearers and the Queensland government sent police and armed troops to arrest strikers.
And it so continued around the world year after year.
A call to create an international Labor Day during the nineteenth century failed due to ideological splits within the trade union movement. International Labor Day, aka May Day, became an international holiday supported by the United Nations during the 20th century.
The above history applies to International May Day on May 1 as well as Australia's various Labour Days, which the provinces acknowledge as Labour Days throughout the year.
Date: March 27, 2023
Location: United States, Alaska
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Observed on the last Monday in March annually in Alaska, Seward's Day commemorates one of the most outstanding real estate deals ever made. On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased the territory of Alaska from Russia for a mere US$ 7.2 million! That is 665,384.04 square miles for nine cents per square mile. In 2023 dollars, that's US$ 144.36 million, or just under US$ 217 per square mile—which is still a fantastic bargain!
William Seward, Secretary of State for the United States, negotiated the deal, and in 1867 people thought he was crazy. They referred to it as "Seward's folly" and "Seward's icebox."
Seward got the last laugh, though! In 1896 gold was discovered in the Klondike, and 100 years later, in 1967, oil was found on the coast. Seward went down in history as a genius!
PEACH BLOSSOM DAY
Date: March 3, 2023
Location: United States
Champion: Chinese Mythology
National Peach Blossom Day has significant connotations in Chinese mythology.
An ancient Chinese parable entitled The Peach Blossom Spring, also known as The Legend of Shangri-La, tells of escape from political unrest into a utopia of peace at the end of a river shrouded in peach blossoms. The parable is likely the source of James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon, which brought the mythical Shangri-la into global awareness.
In this utopia, told through the journey of a lone fisherman navigating the flower-laden river, a valley hidden by the peach blossoms emerges, introducing him to a civilization absent of hate, war, pettiness, prejudice, lying, despair, and scorn. It is a world where man and beast live in peace and harmony, and all is perfect. Perfection is too much for the man. Failing to appreciate it, he leaves and returns to the real world. But he is quickly disillusioned and yearns for what he had. Having experienced paradise, he is horrified by reality. Vainly he attempts to return to his perfect place, Shangri-La, never to find it again.
Peach blossoms symbolize an ideal society where personal differences, illustrated in the divisions caused by politics, abate, and people work together rather than against each other.
MAPLE SYRUP WEEKENDS
Dates: March 18-19; 25-26, 2023
Location: Rural New York State, United States
Champion: New York State Maple Producers Association
Maple syrup is a serious business and important to New York but sacred to Canada, where it is liquid gold and enshrined in their national identity and flag.
The Great Maple Syrup Heist of 9,561 barrels (US$ 30.4 million) from Canada's global strategic reserve in 2011-12 exposed a Quebecois criminal monopoly and the sweet shack mafia linked to the tantalizing sap that would make a RICO charge blush. Ask for maple-flavored corn syrup on your morning pancakes if you want to see a cuddly Canadian go ballistic—Them thar be fighting words (and an insult equivalent to ordering a California Chardonnay in France (guilty!)). Yes, even syrup can be salacious!
I haven't found a similar road trip event in Canada (yet), so, back to New York.
Every spring, the New York State Maple Producers Association members invite families and friends into their "sugar houses" to experience the world of pure New York-harvested maple syrup. At approximately 160 farms and museums across New York State, Maple Weekend offers a delicious, fun-filled outing with a little something for all maple lovers to taste and experience. New York's Maple Syrup Weekend occurs over two weekends. Participating farms and producers are listed here.
Authentic maple syrup is a fantastic gift that nearly everyone can enjoy, and it is easy to take back home if you're traveling in the region. Best of all, if kept in the freezer after opening, maple syrup does not spoil.
NATIONAL FRAGRANCE DAY
Date: March 21, 2023
Location: United Kingdom, United States
Champion: Fragrance Foundation
The English word "perfume" comes from the Latin term "per fumus," meaning "through the smoke." The name may have something to do with incense, burning dried matter to scent the air, which was and is a part of many religious rituals.
Perfume has existed since around 2000 BC, receiving attribution in the book of Exodus in The Bible. Egypt's Cleopatra (69-30 BC) was reported to bathe in aromatic oils. Deodorant and antiperspirants would not exist until the eighth century AD; perfumes often masqued unpleasant smells, chased away evil spirits, or were dabbed on to attract a mate.
The first perfume factory is believed to have originated in Cyprus approximately 4,000 years ago.
During the golden age of Islam (800-1200s AD), perfuming oneself with oud (scented oils) was elevated. The Qur'an instructs men of the Islamic faith to fully bathe prior to Friday prayers and apply scent if available. When the Qur'an was written in the seventh century, bathing regularly was a luxury for most people. With this instruction, scenting spaces and people became an art.
Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, in 1370 AD, had the first modern perfume created by combining alcohol, oils, and fragrance for personal use. However, the Christian world would need to wait until the Renaissance to discover the potential of the fragrance world. It would arrive through Arabic traders and become an industry through Catherine de Medici (Italy) in the 16th century.
France became the center of scents in the 17th century. A luxury, typically only the wealthy and nobility could afford to purchase perfumes. Americans would create a less expensive version in the 19th century, mixing scents in water and calling it Cologne. Eu de Parfum and Eu de Toilette are additional iterations, with toilette being the lowest quality and concentration of the actual scent. The addition of water and less essence makes the scent affordable.
National Fragrance Day is observed in the United Kingdom (sponsored there by the Fragrance Foundation) and in the United States (no sponsor). It falls on the most fragrant day of the year, the first day of spring.
MARCH MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS
In addition to Finnmarksløpet and the Iditarod (highlighted above), March includes several notable sporting events. Due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, I cannot confirm that the Baikal Ice Marathon and Baikal Ice Golf Tournament are occurring this year. If they do, it will be during the first two weekends of March.
Adelaide Cup (Horse Racing), March 13, Australia
Bahrain Grand Prix (Auto Racing); March 3-5, Bahrain
Birkebeinerrennet (Skiing), March 18, Norway
Crufts Dog Show, March 9-12, United Kingdom
FIS Nordic World Skiing Championships, February 21-March 5, Slovenia
Magners Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival, March 14-17, United Kingdom
March Madness (Basketball); March 14 - April 3, United States
NAIA Cheer & Dance National Championship, March 10-11, United States
National Ski-Joring Finals, March 11-12, United States
NCAA Women's Final Four (Basketball) March 30 - April 2, United States
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Auto Racing); March 17-19, Saudi Arabia
Six Nations (Rugby), February 4- March 18, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Italy
Tokyo Marathon (Running), March 5, Japan
World Baseball Classic, March 8-21, Japan, Taiwan, United States
World Championship (Golf), March 22-26, United States
BLACK SWAN DAY
Date: March 13, 2023
Location: United States
Champion: Historical Event
Black Swan Day marks the day the COVID-19 situation turned upside down in the United States over eight hours on Friday, March 13, 2020. An event is considered a "Black swan event" when it upends norms and changes how society behaves going forward. It is a sudden and disruptive event.
On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a National Emergency over the novel Coronavirus. On that day, the US had 2,183 cases with 48 deaths.
Globally, the world had recorded 145,417 cases and 5,427 deaths by March 13. What we were about to engage as a global community, nobody knew.
Everyone has a story about that day, and this is mine.
FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH
At 7:30 AM, March 13, 2020, I arrived my office in Bala Cynwood (Bah-la Kin-wood), Pennsylvania, wary of the fact it was Friday the 13th, but looking forward to getting the day over so the weekend could start. I was doing direct marketing door-to-door, business-to-business for 100 percent commission. I hated it with a passion but needed income as I researched LEEP.
Every morning we held a ninety-minute "sales meeting," remedial training for the never-ending stream of new recruits, 90 percent of whom never made it to 30 days, let alone a whole week. This day I lucked out, and I didn't have to take a trainee into the field.
SCHUYLKILL GHOSTS & BUBBLE GUM LIGHTS
At around 9:30 AM, I headed to my car, swung onto City Avenue, and headed toward Center City on the Schuylkill (Skoo-cull) interstate highway 76. It was the first indication that this would not be a typical day. There wasn't a single car moving westbound on the I-76, not one. Usually, the infamous highway is bumper-to-bumper at this time—actually, any time of day. Where were the cars? I exited onto the PA1 northbound. No cars were going southbound on this road, another major highway. Two miles in, and still no cars on the other side. Drivers traveling my way were looking around as puzzled as me. A woman in hijab passed, catching my eye; she nodded and shook her head, confused. I grinned back half-heartedly and shrugged.
Suddenly, over the crest ahead, a flood of bubble gum lights and sirens spilled into all the southbound lanes, swelling from the emergency parking on the side to the Jersey barrier dividing us. Dozens and dozens of police motorcycles rushed toward us, followed by police cars, fire engines, command cars, and ambulances. Each vehicle was fully animated, and all had sirens blaring. Confused, my car compatriots and I all eased over to the shoulder, trying to figure out what to do. The flood of rapidly moving vehicles was over a mile in length.
It is hard to explain the fear this procession engendered. My first thought was terrorism. Why else would roads be closed and hundreds of emergency vehicles of every flavor be traveling quickly toward Center City, lights flashing and sirens blaring?
Then I saw the hearse. Fortunately, it was a show of respect, not my worst fear. It was a massive funeral procession for a first responder. In retrospect, it was a creepy premonition of the year ahead.
The day continued in its strangeness.
SHADES OF 1918
My first stop in North Philadelphia was an Irish pub with two locations in the city. The person I needed to speak with wasn't in, but his father was. I asked about their plans for Saint Patrick's Day the following week.
"I don't know," he confided. "My father lived through the 1918 pandemic, and we're not sure what this is yet."
1918—The Spanish Flu. Over 12,000 Philadelphians lost their lives within six weeks during the second wave. It ravaged the city after a Labor Day parade in early September attended by an estimated 200,000 people.
Wishing him luck for Saint Patrick's Day, I left and headed into the territory I planned to work that day, an area of light and heavy industrial manufacturing peppered with strip malls and various fast food joints. After about thirty minutes, I got my first contract, a multi-location retailer with a warehouse. Fabulous. After about forty minutes with them, I headed to a Starbucks. Parking, I exited the car, looking forward to sitting down. Instead, a sign at the door read: "Takeout only until further notice due to COVID-19."
What? Gingerly, I scanned the other storefronts in the strip mall. Most were closed, except for a Redwing shoe store and a Duncan Donuts. The closed locations all had similar signs.
Several 'closed' signed strip malls later, I began to panic. I was an hour from my home, and I really needed a restroom. The Taco Bell, cheesesteak place, and sub shop all refused customers inside. Nearly every location I could enter was empty, and the proprietors were worried and not friendly, which was highly unusual. Typically only nail salons and pawn shops were mean to me. Everyone was on edge. By 3 PM, I called it a day.
I didn't know that all hell had broken loose until I entered my car that afternoon, as I couldn't access a radio during the day. The White House had officially declared a National Emergency over the Coronavirus. Several outbreaks in the US were reported, and suddenly people were discussing shutting everything down.
"They can't shut everything down," I thought, "can they?"
MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020
That weekend, there was a stayed uneasiness. Monday morning's commute was better than Christmas week, with hardly any cars on the road. After our mind-numbing sales meeting, I headed to Philadelphia's Italian Market (my favorite place in the city). I dropped in on existing clients happily socializing until my 1:30 PM appointment with a culinary school in South Philly. As I left the school with a new contract, my phone started vibrating and screeching with an alarm I'd never heard. The text read, "The state of Pennsylvania will shut down at 5 PM today by order of the governor, March 16, 2020."
What the?!? No! I'm supposed to get my hair cut tomorrow! Little did I know it would be seven more months of mop head before that would happen.
Dumbfounded, I stood on the sunny street filled with a slight breeze and budding cherry trees staring at the message on my phone. It was 3 PM, exactly. Fortunately, I had made my commission for the week.
Screw it! I didn't want to go home, and I didn't want to work. I wanted people—a communion of strangers—so I parked at home and headed to a pub within stumbling distance of my house.
About 15 of us sat in the small 1930s-era bar, drinking cheap wine and bottled beer, tipping the bartender liberally, and discussing events with trepidation. The owner wandered in around 4 PM and informed us that the bar and most other businesses would indefinitely close at 5 PM. We watched the news on the tele and tried to make light of this new reality. At 4:55 PM, a final toast before one-by-one, we spilled out the door and made our way home.
It was the end of an era and the beginning of what would become two and a half rather surreal years for the world.
As of today (January 19, 2023), 672,364,867 cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally. Six million, seven hundred thirty-seven thousand, four hundred seven people have died, and the US stands at 103,708,163 cases with 1,127,080 deaths, the highest in the world. We're number one—and not in a good way.
Another anniversary this month is March 11. On March 11, 1918, the first cases of the Spanish Flu were reported in the United States. It ultimately killed 500,000 Americans and 22 million people worldwide. The Spanish Flu, like COVID (believed to have started in September 2019, though first documented in November 2019), would build up over six months before people realized its seriousness.
March 11, 2020, is the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, exactly 102 years later. March 11 is known as "Pandemic Day" internationally.
Another issue is complete. The next issue will cover events in April 2023 and be out in early March. Thank you for subscribing, and please share with your friends and colleagues! By the way, I love comments, either public or private. Have a great rest of the week y'all!