Cinco de Mayo, Explained…

Today, many Americans are celebrating a holiday they likely know almost nothing about.

I’m speaking, of course, of Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for May 5. Although the day is supposed to celebrate Mexican heritage, it has become Americanized — that is, hijacked into another excuse to party, eat, and drink, all while getting sweet discounts at some restaurants. (It is so Americanized, in fact, that it’s actually celebrated more in the US than in Mexico.)

The origins of the holiday go back to, as one would expect, Mexican history. But Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (September 16), as many people believe. It is, instead, a day commemorating an important battle after Mexican independence.

These details might not seem very important. But the origins are an important part of the Mexican heritage many Americans are supposed to be celebrating today — and give some insight into why this uniquely Mexican-American holiday is now celebrated in the US.

Cinco de Mayo’s origins go back to a 19th-century battle

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Let’s be clear: Mexican Independence Day is September 16, 1810, the beginning of Mexico’s revolt against Spain. It is not Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo does, however, have roots in Mexico’s struggle with another European power.

In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez declared that his country couldn’t afford to pay its debts. This, as one would expect, did not please the countries that had made loans to Mexico — and Britain, Spain, and France sent naval forces to Mexico to secure their debts.

Britain and Spain managed to negotiate the issue peacefully. But the French, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to invade, taking over the country and setting up a monarchy led by an Austrian archduke.

But before the French managed to take over the country for several years, Cinco de Mayo gave Mexicans a glimmer of hope: When the French approached the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862, their army lost to a badly outnumbered and out-armed group of Mexican soldiers.

The Mexican victory was short-lived, and France eventually advanced to the nation’s capital and took over. But the win still turned into a symbol of Mexican resistance, helping sustain an independence movement that would go on for the next few years.

Driven by the spirit of Cinco de Mayo and with American support, Mexicans eventually — in 1867 — toppled the French-installed government and put Juárez back in power.

Over time, Cinco de Mayo became an American holiday

So how did Cinco de Mayo go from celebrating a struggle for Mexican liberation to a US holiday?

It goes back to the US and Mexico’s close ties, linked by proximity, a struggle against European imperialism for independence, trade, and immigration. (There’s also the US’s imperialism in Mexico.)

The close ties were also real in 1862, the year of Cinco de Mayo and second year of the American Civil War. These two events were tied, as Brian Greene reported for US News and World Report:

As the French were making war with Mexico, the American Confederacy was courting Napoleon’s help in its conflict with the United States. At the time of the Battle of Puebla, the Confederacy had strung together impressive victories over the Union forces. According to some historians, the French, who made war with Mexico on the pretext of collecting debt, planned to use Mexico as a “base” from which they could help the Confederacy defeat the North, and the Mexican victory at Puebla made the French pause long enough for the Union army to grow stronger and gain momentum. Had the French won at Puebla, some contend, the outcome of the American Civil War could have been much different, as the French and Confederates together could have taken control of the continent from the Mason Dixon line to Guatemela [sic], installing an oligarchical, slave-holding government.

This link between the victory in Puebla and the Civil War drove Mexican Americans in California to celebrate the holiday as part of the cause to abolish slavery. As David Hayes-Bautista, author of El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, told the Associated Press, Hispanic Americans in the western US even celebrated Cinco de Mayo in parades while dressed in Civil War uniforms.

Over time, Mexican Americans’ festivities transformed into a broader celebration of their Mexican heritage, particularly as Mexican Americans adopted Cinco de Mayo as a rallying cry in their struggle for civil rights in the 1970s. (The civil rights link has stuck, at times leading to protests and riots. On May 5, 1991, for example, the police shooting of a Salvadoran man led to three days of riots in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC.)

Eventually, the celebrations became so prominent that white Americans began to take part in the holiday as well. With that, major companies began getting involved to make Cinco de Mayo into a profitable venture.

But as the holiday grew broader, so did its focus — and with that, its true origins were mostly lost.

Cinco de Mayo has turned into another reason to booze up

None of this history has any bearing on how most Americans take part in Cinco de Mayo. Insofar as the holiday’s Mexican origins color how most Americans celebrate the day, it mostly just changes the kind of alcohol and food people consume as they party.

This, of course, isn’t exclusive to Cinco de Mayo. It’s happened with St. Patrick’s Day, which went from celebrating the top patron saint of Ireland to essentially celebrating alcohol, America’s second deadliest drug. It’s something we’ve seen with holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which have over time transformed more into reasons to buy a bunch of stuff — candy, food, booze, gifts, and so on.

Similarly, the food and alcohol industries have transformed Cinco de Mayo into a huge day for advertising and sales. According to CNN, in 2014 the Friday closest to Cinco de Mayo was the biggest non-winter drinking day of the year.

This is just what capitalism does to holidays in America. And, hey, it can be pretty fun. But since booze is so dangerous (linked to 88,000 deaths each year), it’s also a public health and safety hazard — to the point that state agencies warn people to take it easy on the drinking during holidays like Cinco de Mayo. And the corporate takeover of Cinco de Mayo has also by and large diluted the holiday’s origins.

But at the very least, knowing the origins of Cinco de Mayo will give you something to talk about with strangers as you down fajitas and margaritas today.

‘Star Wars’ Day’s Origins and What’s in Store for the Future of May the Fourth

These days, what with the dribs and drabs of Episode VIII and Rogue One news and rumors, it seems like just about every day is Star Wars Day. But today, May the 4th, is a special day on the Star Wars fan calendar, all thanks to a playful, official pun-driven idea by a Toronto comedian.

“If you say ‘official’ it kind of makes it sound like it was part of Disney,” Sean Ward, a YouTube entertainer and comedian, told Inverse. Ward and some like-minded Star Wars fans first organized an event to celebrate the day that sounded a lot like the famous phrase “May The Force be with you” in 2011, at the now-defunct Toronto Underground Cinema. “It wasn’t official so much as it was the first organized event. What we did was actually put on an event that people could come to, and fast forward this many years later and it’s an international thing that people look forward to as an annual tradition.”

Ward’s first Star Wars Day was a relatively modest affair. “The main chunk of the presentation back then was a curated collection of Star Wars fan films from YouTube,” he said, which was meant to grow into a collection of clips and parodies. “It was much more of a wild west thing,” he explained, saying that he simply latched onto the humorous “May the fourth be with you” tagline as fans first before realizing it could grow into a bigger occasion.

“If we could’ve had any sort of official sanction from Lucasfilm we would have, but just us as individuals we did what we could to do something that sounded like fun, but we also saw the opportunity to snatch something up for Toronto to say the first one happened there,” he said.

When Disney, which bought Lucasfilm in late 2012, officially began promotingStar Wars Day in 2013, as a way to promote upcoming sequels and sell merchandise, fans across the globe accepted that the event was now out of their hands. But there was another: Victor Medina had already created an alternative to May the 4th, a holiday to be celebrated a day later.

Dallas-based Medina and his friend Eric Shirey created Revengeofthe5th.net in 2012 as a reaction to Star Wars Day. “My nephew cracked a joke on May 4 about Revenge of the Fifth,” Medina told Inverse over the phone. The new phrase was a riff on Revenge of the Sith, the title of George Lucas’ third prequel episode of the saga, and was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek companion to Star Wars Day. It honored the movies just like the fourth, but instead expanded the celebration to two days and was meant to highlight the kitschier side of Star Wars.

“We thought the whole idea for ‘Revenge of the Fifth would cover the flipside of the Star Wars universe, with all the really goofy, funny stuff,” Medina said. Specifically, he was talking about the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special; the Ewok TV movies; idiosyncratic old toy commercials; Star Wars Uncut, the fan-made mashup of second-long clips that recreated the original movie; and even the other various fan films and parodies that Ward might have highlighted in his original Star Wars Day event.

Medina summed up Revenge of the Fifth as “everything that’s not necessarily canon or part of the original trilogy, but celebrates the fandom on the fringes of it.”

It takes a decidedly more personal approach. For instance, on May 5th, he and Shirey will post a YouTube playlist of various clips they recommend to create a collective viewing party. This is in addition to the occasional eBay charity auctions the site holds, which features autographed Star Wars memorabilia, and goes towards donations made to local Texas charities.

Most importantly, the still relatively small movement was born out of the old Star Wars Day mentality. “It’s become more of a mainstream event,” Medina said of May 4. “What I liked about Star Wars Day is that a lot of folks celebrate it in their own way.” But Medina stressed he’s by no means against Star Wars Day. “I’d love to see the idea of having a two-day thing to celebrate Star Wars,” he said, “but have that second day be for things that have grown off from Star Wars and to keep it fan-based.”

When asked about the grassroots origins of Star Wars Day potentially getting away from him and other fans, Ward was sanguine about Lucasfilm and Disney’s claim to the property: “It doesn’t bother me at all because Star Wars is theirs, so they’re entitled to do whatever they want,” he said. “It’s always been a through-and-through exercise in corporatism and capitalism, but I think Disney has been great at managing the brand on a corporate level with a hands-off approach and letting talented people do what they do.”

Ward saw Disney’s own fan-oriented approach, despite it being an enormous corporation, as a model to expand his own Star Wars Day event, while still keeping things fan-focused. “My dream is that as the reputation continues to grow that it’s on the bucket list of hardcore Star Wars fans everywhere that they need to get to Toronto for Star Wars Day.”

He compared ambitions for the Toronto event to be something like the officialStar Wars Celebration, the massive Comic-Con-esque gathering, saying he wanted it to have a “kind of fan-oriented flavor but fan-run.”

Ward’s Toronto event did not happen the last three years, but is back again this year in full force. Fans will gather in Toronto’s Dundas Square for what he called an “epic group photo,” and then they’ll proceed to a local venue where there will be a costume contest, a trivia game show with prizes, celebrity guests, and themed food and drink specials. It’s essentially a big Star Wars charity fundraiser (specifically for the Sick Kids Foundation, which works with children’s hospitals across Canada), and still has the same air of geek-centric pride as the first one in 2011.

But Ward acknowledged that the holiday festivities will continue to grow because of a mix of fan fervor and perfect timing. “Star Wars Day is on a Wednesday this year, and in another two years it’s going to be on a Friday, and then Saturday after that,” he said. “When we get to those two years, it’s going to be crazy and everything will be at a fever pitch.”

The party will only get bigger from there.

“Imagine in the future there’s something about Star Wars Day at Madison Square Garden?” Ward asked. “I don’t think that’s outside the realm of possibility, and it’s all good by me because it means more fun for everybody.”

As for Medina, before his curated Revenge of the Fifth playlist hell be watching the original trilogy on his unaltered VHS copies on May 4. “I have a nostalgia for these old formats of watching the original versions,” he said. “The old fashioned way.”

Regardless of what you hear about Star Wars Day, how you choose to celebrate it should remain the focus. Fans were brought together for their love of pure escapism, and they shouldnt forget that. So with that in mind, may the Force — and the fourth and fifth — be with you.

Why Do We Celebrate Groundhog Day?

For one day each year, people across North America count on a network of groggy groundhogs to rise at dawn and issue a six-week weather outlook. It’s a popular tradition from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to Vancouver, British Columbia, with crowds often braving bitter cold on Feb. 2 just to see the furry forecasters in action.

But why? How did such a strange ritual ever get started? And is there any truth behind groundhogs’ weather-predicting reputation?

Groundhog Day as we know it began around 1887 in Punxsutawney, but its roots go back hundreds and even thousands of years. The holiday has origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, which was held Feb. 1, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Imbolc was a festival for the coming spring, and often featured primitive meteorology in an attempt to predict or control how quickly spring arrived.

As Christianity swept into the British Isles, missionaries incorporated Brigid, the Celtic goddess of Imbolc, into St. Brigid of Kildare, a patron saint of Ireland. Imbolc was replaced with Candlemas, a feast dedicated to St. Brigid that took place every year on Feb. 2.

Candlemas is a religious holiday, but it remained a big day for weather forecasting, too. Tradition held that winter wasn’t over if Candlemas was sunny enough to cast shadows, but a cloudy, shadow-free day meant spring had sprung. According to an old British saying, “If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.”

That may explain the origin of Groundhog Day in general, but it offers few clues on how groundhogs got involved. For that, we can thank 19th-century German immigrants and a creative city editor at the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper.

Germans who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1800s brought many customs from home, including an old practice of predicting the end of winter based on bears’ and badgers’ hibernation habits. Some Germans may have switched to groundhogs when they arrived in America, but the new tradition didn’t really take off until the late 1880s, when a group of local groundhog hunters caught the attention of Punxsutawney Spirit city editor Clymer H. Freas.

Freas reported on the men’s groundhog hunts and barbecues, touting them as members of “the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.” He became so enthralled by local groundhog folklore that he went on to promote Punxsutawney as home to a weather-predicting groundhog, a story he then continued to repeat and embellish year after year. Other newspapers began reporting it, too, and Punxsutawney soon became ground zero for groundhog meteorology, as well as the hometown of world-renowned forecaster “Punxsutawney Phil.”

Crowds of 30,000 people now swarm the city to watch Phil make his annual prediction, an event further popularized by the 1993 Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day.” The rise of Punxsutawney Phil has also inspired an array of other forecasting groundhogs across the United States and Canada, including Gen. Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh and Wiarton Willie in Ontario.

Although there could be some truth to the link between clear weather on Feb. 2 and a longer winter — since sunny days in winter are often caused by cold, dry air masses, and cloudy days tend to result from moist, mild ocean air — the National Climatic Data Center points out that groundhogs are hardly reliable meteorologists. An NCDC analysis shows “no predictive skill” in Punxsutawney Phil’s winter outlooks since 1988, and a study of Canada’s 13 major weather-forecasting groundhogs found their success rate was about 37 percent over 30 to 40 years.

A better rule of thumb for predicting winter weather is to look at regional climate, according to the NCDC. For most of the United States, the three coldest months of the year are December, January and February, meaning winter is usually still going strong on Feb. 2 regardless of whether rodents cast shadows. But before we accuse the holiday’s namesake forecasters of sleeping on the job, it’s worth noting that wild groundhogs in North America often hibernate into late February and March — suggesting they may know winter isn’t over without even stepping outside on Groundhog Day.

Groundhog trivia:

  • “Groundhog,” “woodchuck” and even “whistle pig” are different names for the same animal — Marmota monax, the largest species of ground squirrel in North America.
  • Using only their teeth, claws and sturdy limbs, wild groundhogs dig extensive burrows that can be up to 5 feet deep and 45 feet long.
  • The name “whistle pig” comes from their noisy reactions to being disturbed, which include whistling, squealing, barking, chattering and grinding their teeth.
  • While most squirrels eat the reproductive parts of plants like seeds and nuts, groundhogs mainly graze on grass and leaves, but they sometimes eat insects, snails and bird eggs, too.
  • Groundhogs are one of the few true hibernators, relying entirely on body fat to make it through winter. Their heartbeat slows from about 75 beats per minute to as few as 4, and their body temperature drops from the 90s into the 40s (Fahrenheit).
  • An internal biological clock controls when wild groundhogs wake up from hibernation, but their actual emergence from the burrow depends more on daily temperature than intuition.

Even aside from dedicating a holiday to it, Americans and Canadians have been very good to the groundhog. The species was relatively scarce when Europeans first settled the continent, but as settlers fragmented forests to set up farms and towns, they created more of groundhogs’ favorite habitat — the edge between open and woodland areas — while also killing wolves, cougars and other top predators. Although groundhogs thrived and expanded their range, however, they still usually try to avoid contact with people.

The Average Price Of Thanksgiving Dinner Predicted To Top $50 For The First Time Ever This Year

It’s only a couple of day until Thanksgiving, which means you’re probably getting your shopping list ready for the big day of feasting. Prepare yourself for (slightly) higher prices than last year, as experts predict that the average Turkey Day dinner will cost more than $50 for the first time ever.

Though we’ve already been told that avian flu and pumpkin shortages won’t have a huge effect on prices this year, turkey prices are up 6.4%, the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement.

The entire meal — consisting of 12 items typically served during the holiday, for 10 people — will cost about 1.4% more than it was last year: last year’s price tag was $49.41, compared to this year’s price tag of $50.11 on average.

A 16-pound turkey will go from $23.04 to $21.65, while sides like sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing and pumpkin-pie mix/shells are up by about $0.01 to $0.08, according to a survey by 138 volunteer shoppers in 32 states.

You’ll be saving a few cents on other items this year: a gallon of whole milk will cost $0.14 cents less than last year, and whipping cream, fresh cranberries, green peas, miscellaneous ingredients and a relish tray will cost you anywhere from $0.03 to $0.30 less than 2014.

“Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our market basket,” John Anderson, the farm group’s deputy chief economist, said in a statement. “Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season.”

Turkey, Pumpkin Supply Issues Won’t Impact Thanksgiving Meal Prices

While the aftershocks of this summer’s avian flu outbreak and the recent loss of pumpkin crops to high rainfall have led to higher prices for the products, analysts say those costs shouldn’t affect this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. 

The Chicago Tribune reports that despite issues with decimated crops and sick birds, the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will continue to hover around $49, a rate it’s been at since 2011.

The rather consistent pricing for the holiday staples comes in part because of planning and the way in which companies produce the products.

Although the bird flu wiped out eight million turkeys this year, most of the birds shoppers will find in the supermarket were actually harvested and frozen before the outbreak began.

These frozen turkeys make up nearly three-quarters of the Thanksgiving bird market. And prices for the poultry have been declining since the peak of the outbreak: frozen hens averaged $1.08 per pound as of Nov. 6, down from $1.69 three weeks earlier, according to the USDA weekly supermarket survey.

Also helping to ease costs are grocers’ strategies to drop the price of frozen turkeys near Thanksgiving as a way to spur sales of other items and to stock up on birds well in advance of the holiday rush, Richard Volpe, a professor at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, and former retail food price economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tells the Tribune.

For example, Walmart says it plans to have more birds on hand than ever before, offering the items for about $0.64 less than last year.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and this year that’s fresh turkeys, the Tribune reports. According to the USDA, fresh whole hens averaged $1.60 a pound at the beginning of the month, while they cost about $1.36/pound last year.

As for pumpkin crops affected by heavy rainfall in Illinois and early ripening in California, the Tribune reports that the supply of canned pumpkin should last through the holiday.

Libby’s tells the Tribune that the company doesn’t expect the impending pumpkin shortage to hit until after the holiday baking season is over.

According to the USDA, the remaining Thanksgiving staples will be a bit more expensive, but not enough to necessarily break the bank.

Should Evangelicals Be Upset Over The New Starbucks Christmas Cups?

In news that’ll make you wish that Christmas was already over, Starbucks just came out with their yearly holiday cups. Only, instead of whimsical drawings of snow flakes and snow men on the red cups, this year’s batch are just red, with no other adornment but the green and white logo.

MSN reports that Christian evangelists are protesting this minimalist design. One such evangelical, Joshua Feuerstein, encapsulates the discontent in a Facebook video:

“I think in the age of political correctness, we become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head.”

MSN quotes another evangelical Christian pastor, Nate Weaver, as saying he won’t go to Starbucks anymore, because the company apparently won’t support pro-life causes. The red cups with “nothing that might tie to Christmas on them because they want to be politically correct” was apparently the last straw.

There’s even a Twitter hashtag, #MerryChristmasStarbucks. Funnily enough, most people currently on this hashtag are speaking out about how ridiculous the controversy is.

Can’t wait for Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and other presidential candidates to weigh in on this important issue.

Do Your Holiday Flights Have Hidden Fees Attached? This Guide Will Tell You

‘Tis the season to charge extra for everything. This year, that includes baggage, at least if you’re flying discount. Earlier this week, word got out that discount airlines Frontier and Spirit are making the most of the holidays by adding a seasonal surcharge to already-elevated checked baggage fees.

The good news is, the additional fees aren’t bank-breaking. Spirit is charging an extra $2 per flight, while Frontier’s fees range from $5 to $10 extra. Definitely not enough to make people change their minds about going home for Thanksgiving.

Still, though, the increased prices are making many say “Bah, humbug,” including Florida senator Bill Nelson, who urged the airlines today to reconsider increasing the fees. “These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families,” Nelson wrote in a holiday letter he sent to all the CEOs of major US airlines. “If your company does plan to impose holiday surcharges, I request that you rescind those plans immediately.”

Airline companies are on the defensive about the hikes. As Frontier president Barry Biffle told Bloomberg in an interview, “This idea that Frontier is actually ripping people off at the holidays—nothing could be further from the truth. We encourage consumers to look at the total price—that’s all that matters.” Translation: our fares are still cheaper than the non-discount airlines, so suck it up.

So far, it appears that Spirit and Frontier are the only two airlines raising their baggage fees, but just because it’s always nice to have information organized in one place, here’s our holiday-flight-buying gift to you: a guide to the baggage fees of major U.S. airlines for the most general, economy-type travelers. (We’ve only included information for the first and second checked bags, in addition to the carry-on costs. If you’re traveling with three checked bags, you need to reconsider your travel strategy or something. Or ship those Christmas presents home.)

Spirit

Carry-on: Ranges in price from $26 to $100 depending on when you pay the fee and whether you’re a member of their $9 Fare Club. (Hint: Don’t try to be the person who sneaks an oversized bag through as carry-on, because that’s how you end up having to pay the $100.)
1st Checked Bag: $21-$100
2nd Checked Bag: $31-$100

Frontier

Carry-on: $35-$60, depending on when you pay the fee.
1st Checked Bag: $30-$60
2nd Checked Bag: $40-$45, keeping in mind that you’re not allowed to gate-check a second bag.

Southwest

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: Free!
2nd Checked Bag: Free! (Never change, Southwest.)

United

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

American Airlines

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

JetBlue

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $20-$25
2nd Checked Bag: $35

Delta

Carry-on: Free!
1st Checked Bag: $25
2nd Checked Bag: $25

Allegiant

Carry-on: Free! (Or $50 if you wait until you get to the airport to let them know.)
1st Checked Bag: $35-$50
2nd Checked Bag: $35-$50

FINAL NOTE: If there’s a takeaway from this list, it’s that the earlier you pay for your bags, the better. Learn to be a light packer. Know what you’re going to bring in advance. Don’t try to overstuff a bag, or think it will sneak by the attendants at the gate. And please, please be kind to the flight attendants!

More Than 25M Travelers Expected To Hit The Skies This Thanksgiving

If you’re planning to fly the friendly skies in order to visit family and friends this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, you’ll have plenty of company in the form of nearly 25.3 million other travelers. 

The 12-day period surrounding the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday season will be the busiest for the airline industry since the great recession, according to industry trade group Airlines 4 America.

This year’s projection of 25.3 million passengers represents an increase of about 800,000 people from 2014’s estimated 24.5 million travelers.

Breaking that figure down, Airlines 4 America estimates 1.4 to 2.7 million passengers will be wandering around airports each day.

The busiest day for travel is expected to be Nov. 29, the Sunday after the big holiday, while Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving Day – will be the least crowded.

So how are carriers preparing for the influx of customers? Airlines 4 America says they’re adding seats to the tune of a 3% increase in capacity.

20 Reasons Why Halloween Is Better Than Other Holidays

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I don’t have to worry about it. I find it to be the only holiday where I don’t feel lonely, heartbroken, or alienated. It’s the only time I can wear a mask that is funny or obvious, and not an emotional one I put up for most holidays. You don’t have to be asked out on the 31st of October or Halloween weekend, your friends are already ready to celebrate it and party with you.

Halloween beats out all major holidays for these reasons:

1. Halloween decorations are awesome without being too sentimental, overly expensive, or in need of complicated wires.

2. Halloween celebrates gluttony. It’s all about consuming special treats. Who doesn’t like to be given permission to indulge their sweet teeth? I’m talking about roasted pumpkin seeds, candy corn, gummy worms, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pie, and everything Hershey’s and Nestle has to offer. The only exception to this rule is Almond Joy’s, worst candy on earth.

3. The only day of the year where kids are allowed to talk to strangers. They bang on the doors of people they don’t know and expect them to give them a gift or a donation for a good cause. If a stranger was too lazy to give out candy and left a bucket of candy outside his porch with a “take one” sign, kids win by taking as much of the best candy their little hands can hold.

4. Halloween music is better than Christmas music. The Monster Mash, Rocky Horror Picture Show’s The Time Warp, Ghostbuster Theme Song, The Addams Family Theme Song, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith’s Nightmare On My Street, Donovan’s Seasons Of The Witch, Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me, the Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, Backstreet Boys’ Everybody and The B-52’s Rock Lobster are all classics I revisit on the 31st of October.

5. Farmers win. They finally get to sell all of their pumpkins.

6. The only time to dress up your dog or cat without looking crazy or insane.

7. You don’t agonize about what to get someone for Halloween. Forget about gift planning, gift-wrapping, and gift returns. Just break off a piece of your Kit Kat bar and call it a day. You can even buy them in bulk and share them to everyone you know.

8. It is a voluntary holiday and anyone who wants to participate in it, young, old, rich and poor. Even dead people love it because it gives you time to pray for the souls of the departed.

9. Halloween is about conquering your fears. It’s breathing a sigh of relief at the end of a horror movie and walking out of the haunted house safe and sound. Halloween lets us not waste the day paralyzed with fear. We can look the grim reaper in the eye and tell him we got some partying to do.

10. The only day I can think of where civilized people let go of their inhibitions and let their crazy take over. They can dress like a villain, superhero, favorite celebrity, cartoon character, or monster. They can be anything they want to be and suffer no consequences the next day about it.

11. You get to appreciate the teamwork and effort a group of friends or family goes through to adopt a specific theme through their decorations and costumes.

12. You get to vandalize things. Actually, when I think about it, it is expected for the day’s festivities.

13. Chicks dress slutty and no one says anything about it. I find it sexy, crazy, and glorious. For some reason, I find that women who are more reserved in their demeanor, dress, and mannerisms have a drastic transformation on the weekend of Halloween. It is a treat to behold.

14. Halloween movies are awesome. From slashers to the traditional classics, I enjoy revisiting The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, Rosemary’s Baby, Halloween, Sleepy Hollow, The Exorcist, The Omen, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ju-on, Psycho, and Alien.

15. Winning best costume at your favorite bar, club, or within your circle of friends commands respect.

16. It is a great time to have an excuse to party hard. Grab a stranger to dance with and act a bit crazy because after Halloween it’s back to school, back to work, shorter days, longer nights, and not as much sunshine.

17. Gives you the opportunity to convince yourself to spend time and money on a creative costume idea and re-live that long forgotten childhood pastime your parents called “playing make believe.”

18. For couples, it is a perfect time for romance. It serves as a date night excuse, opportune time to role-play and stay up late hyped up on sugar.

19. Pumpkin carving and setting up bonfires are awesome bonding experiences on the night of Halloween. You can make an awesome snack by roasting the pumpkin seeds and have a sweet decoration when you finish craving your pumpkin art.

20. Frankenstein, Witches, Devils, Scarecrows, Vampires, and Mummies remind us of the horror and grotesque, which add a necessary flavor to the celebration of the holiday.

FedEx Expects To Handle A Record 317 Million Packages Between Black Friday And Christmas

As consumers continue to rely on online retailers to fill their holiday shopping needs, FedEx says this year will be busier than ever before: between Black Friday and Christmas, the company says it expects to handle 317 million packages. Which is a pretty impressive number — but what’s FedEx going to do to make sure those packages actually reach their destinations in time?

In projections released Monday, FedEx says its holiday shipments will be at a record-breaking volume, up 12.4% over last year.

Cyber Monday and its avalanche of online deals will be especially crowded, as will the first two Mondays in December: on those days, FedEx will deal with more than double the number of packages it handles on an average day, the company predicts.

Again, these are all big, fat numbers, but they’re numbers that could turn into a headache for FedEx (and other shippers) if it can’t handle all that volume — one only has to think back to 2013 and recall the millions of packages that didn’t arrive on time for Christmas.

To prepare for the onslaught, FedEx says it’s made $1.6 billion investing in its ground shipping service this year to increase capacity and add automation to its network. It’s also planning to hire 55,000 seasonal workers, 10% more than last year, to handle all those packages.

FedEx says it expects its projections to be on target, and that it’s ready to handle what comes.

“We’re very confident,” Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president of marketing and communications at FedEx told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s a relatively small number of e-tail and retail customers that drive the peaks during the holiday. Because we work so closely with them, not just this year, but every year, we can really understand some of the patterns.”