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Jen Grond/the Gauntlet

Sweet November: the wonderful month of beards

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The month of November has become renowned throughout the western world as a time for men of all stripes to abandon proper personal grooming and embrace the majesty of beards. As a result, otherwise respectable men become riddled with facial hair of varying levels of quality. Some men are able to grow full, beautiful beards, while others grow patchy monstrosities that shame them and their forebears. Why would any sane person decide not to shave for a month?

First and foremost, November is typically a cold, cold month. While every month of the year can feel winter's chill, November generally serves as the de facto beginning of winter and holds the first giant snowstorm of the year. Given the climatic trends, growing a beard during this month serves to keep one's face warm. Beards are also potentially the most cost-effective method of bundling up, as a person with a snuggly beard need not search for a balaclava or scarf, nor pay for them.

Furthermore, one can look to the world of sports for reasons to grow a beard. Traditionally, NHL players grow beards during the playoffs for good luck and as a symbol of team solidarity. As a result, the most successful hockey teams often have thick, bushy beards. The 1989 Calgary Flames championship team is known not only for Lanny McDonald's Hall of Fame moustache, but also for the beards of players like Jamie Macoun. Flames captain Jarome Iginla grew a wonderfully patchy beard during the team's 2004 playoff run, while Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby nobly attempted to grow something resembling facial hair during last year's post-season.

For students, midterms and finals are the playoffs. As such, growing a beard acts in the same manner for students as it does for professional athletes. What better way to commemorate exam season than with a beard? You can show commonality with your fellow students by competing to grow the best exams beard, collect good luck in your facial hair or even protest the university's insane scheduling system. Even if none of those reasons sound tempting, beards provide a nice distraction from studying -- you can take time away from your books to groom it, or get a friend to do it for you. Beards are a great way to both attract (or repel) members of both sexes, depending on your personal preferences and the quality of the beard you grow.

So, dear reader, do not judge those around you who have suddenly become bearded. These individuals have their reasons -- be they self-expression, protest or merely participation in a charitable event. Instead of asking why people grow beards, ask yourself, why not? University is supposed to be a time of discovery, where we all make fool-hardy decisions which have few consequences. There's no better way of discovering your own personal limitations than figuring out if you can grow a giant beard than to attempt it during November. If it's ugly as sin, you can always shave it off and try again later.

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