By Dawn Bright
St. Patrick’s Day is always a lot of fun, but one thing I don’t get is why my husband keeps pinching me when I forget to wear green. And shouldn’t drinking green beer count as wearing green?
– Penny G. from Destin
Unless you’re spilling that green beer all over your white blouse, then no, drinking green beer doesn’t count as wearing green. The reason you wear green stems from an American tradition dating back to the 1700s. Green is apparently the leprechaun’s favorite color, and since they can’t be seen and are very mischievous, people pinch you to remind you that you will get pinched by a leprechaun for not wearing green.
As far as green beer goes, it was created in 1914 by Dr. Thomas Curtin. He colored the beer for a St. Paddy’s party being held in the Bronx. He may have been inspired by the centuries-old Irish custom known as “drowning the shamrock,” in which drinkers added green shamrocks to their beverages on St. Patrick’s Day. But the doctor used something called “wash blue,” an iron powder for whitening clothes. That sounds a little gross to me, and thankfully today blue food coloring is the method of choice. So drink up and go green!
Why is Spring Break so early? I always feel sorry for folks who come here to experience the warm Florida weather, but are instead met with downpours and low temps.
– Matt W. from Miramar Beach
I’ve wondered that myself, Matt, but Spring Break is different for every school. It isn’t a national week, it isn’t regulated, and, unfortunately, it isn’t planned around the weather. Instead, Spring Break is simply a vacation period in early spring. It started during the 1930s in the United States and can occur from March to April, depending on term dates and when Easter holiday falls. It is frequently associated with extensive gatherings and riotous partying in warm climate locations.
I wouldn’t normally point you to something else to read, but this article on “How Stuff Works” is full of fascinating facts about Spring Break, so take a moment to learn more. And by the way, Spring Break is anywhere from March 2 to April 26 this year, depending on the school.
My boyfriend wakes up singing songs every day. The songs are all very random, and he says it’s just what popped into his head, but sometimes I wonder. This morning, for example, he was belting out “Bad Liar” by Imagine Dragons. Do you think this means anything?
– Patty C. from DeFuniak Springs
I doubt it means anything, Patty, unless he really is a bad liar. And if he was, would he advertise that to you? Probably not. But the phenomenon of having a song stuck in your head usually means nothing. It’s called Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI), and commonly referred to as an “earworm.” Research has shown a person might be more prone to earworms if they are constantly exposed to music and have certain personality traits, such as obsessive-compulsive or neurotic tendencies. The size and shape of one’s brain may also play a role. No matter what the cause, earworms can be maddening!
To get rid of the earworm, he could think of or listen to a different song, or listen to the actual song all the way through. This could remove it from being “stuck in a loop.” One other suggestion—give your boyfriend a piece of gum to chew. Studies have shown that chewing gum hijacks the same auditory mechanism your brain uses to replay the song over and over. In one study, gum chewing was compared to “tapping,” an in-vogue self-help practice purportedly distracting the brain from unwanted thoughts. Tapping was better than nothing, but gum chewing worked the best in controlling earworms. So get out the Juicy Fruit and get rid of the earworms!
Dawn Bright is an eternal optimist. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about her. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.