10 Bizarre Holidays and Awareness Days

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Earth Day spins our way every April 22, giving us a chance to wear hemp shoes and eschew plastic bags for canvas totes in our bid to help the planet. Earth Day is a legitimate day of recognition, unlike other rather bizarre “awareness days” or “holidays” throughout the rest of the month. For example, National Zucchini Bread Day is celebrated April 25. If you hate zucchini, or bread, you can instead observe World Penguin Day, also held April 25. As for the rest of the year, be sure to mark your calendar for these bizarre awareness days.

10. National Dress Up Your Pet Day (Jan. 14)

Mark Jan. 14 on your calendar for National Dress Up Your Pet Day.

Photo credit: © Elena Elisseeva/Dreamstime.com

If Halloween did not give you enough of a chance to dress up your Doberman as a demon or your Dachshund as a hot dog (complete with a fabric bun!), Jan. 14 marks National Dress up Your Pet Day. Invented by animal behaviorist Colleen Paige, the day is actually meant to promote the pet fashion industry rather than offering yet another chance to dress our dogs in ridiculous costumes. So break out your pooches’ raincoats, boots and suits and let them wag their stuff.


9. Random Acts Of Kindness Day (Feb. 17)

Random Acts of Kindness Day is a day to help others.

Photo credit: © Anthonyata/Dreamstime.com

If you’re sick of being one of those grouchy jerks that cuts people off in traffic, Random Acts of Kindness Day was created just for you. Every Feb. 17, folks are encouraged to go out of their way to do something nice for somebody else. In the best-case scenario, a stranger at a restaurant may give you half his Lotto jackpot. At the very least, someone may hold open a door. If you’re just not sure how to act on this day, check out the website of the non-profit Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for some inspirational ideas on how to help someone. You can’t go wrong showing kindness to someone — especially in rush-hour traffic.


8. National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day (March 26)

Make up your own hoiiday on March 26.

Photo credit: © Candybox Images/Dreamstime.com

Need another pet dress-up day? Think every day should be Christmas? Well, March 26 can be Christmas or any day you wish because it is officially National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. Since dressing up your pet or celebrating Christmas may constitute holiday plagiarism, you may want to instead create your own unique holiday. Choices may include Stop Killing Spiders Day, International Jungle Gym Day, or Clip Your Toenails Already Day. We can thank a Pennsylvania group called the Wellness Permission League with starting this strange holiday.


7. New Beer’s Eve (April 6)

New Beer's Eve heralded the end of Prohibition.

The original New Beer’s Eve commemorated the end of Prohibition.

While New Beer’s Eve is largely ignored today, that was not the case on its debut in 1933. The first New Beer’s Eve came on April 6 and resulted in legions of people lining up outside bars to get a legal drink of real beer at midnight. April 7, 1933, marked the beginning of the end of Prohibition, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt legalizing beer after 13 very dry years. Although the hard stuff would not be available until later, April 7 brought the replacement of “near beer” with beer that actually contained alcohol. And plenty of people were ready to drink to that. Beer sales in the first 24 hours following 1933’s New Beer’s Eve clocked in at more than 1.5 million barrels. In recent years, many enterprising bar and restaurant owners — always looking for a gimmick to drive sales — have held annual New Beer’s Eve celebrations.


6. Star Wars Day (May 4)

Star Wars Day is commemorated each May 4.

Photo credit: Labeled for reuse.

Despite Star Wars being one of the most successful movie franchises in history, Star Wars Day on May 4 came about quite by accident. In a 2005 interview on German television, Star Wars director George Lucas mentioned the famous movie phrase, “May the force be with you.” A German translator — perhaps one of the few people on Earth who has not seen Star Wars — misinterpreted the phrase as “May the 4th be with you.” Thus was born a new holiday. We may as well celebrate the force being with us May 4, maybe decked out as a stormtrooper or Ewok. If Star Wars costumes are just not for you, you can always dress up your dog.


5. National Ice Cream Day (July 18)

Ronald Reagan instituted National Ice Cream Day in 1984.

Photo credit: © Alexander Berkovich/Dreamstime.com

Love him or hate him for his politics, President Ronald Reagan did at least one thing everyone can agree has turned out great. In 1984, Reagan issued an official proclamation making the third Sundae — sorry, Sunday — each July National Ice Cream Day. The proclamation begins with Reagan calling the sweet treat wholesome and nutritious, which may be a good argument to remember the next time someone tells you to start eating healthier. National Ice Cream Day seemed like such a good idea to Reagan, he went ahead and declared all of July as National Ice Cream Month.


4. International Left-Handers Day (Aug. 13)

International Left-handers Day is held each August.

Photo credit: James Gibbon

It may be tough to find left-handed scissors or left-handed bowling gloves, but you can easily find International Left-Handers Day. The worldwide event has been celebrated every Aug. 13 since 1976, honoring the roughly 10 percent of the population that is left-handed. Both lefties and righties around the globe celebrate the day by declaring “left-handed zones” where people do things like gather at pubs to play left-handed darts. It is unclear how many injuries may occur during this day or if anyone has yet declared Aug. 14 as “Wear an Eye Patch to Hide Your Dart Wound Day.”


3. International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19)

If you can talk like a pirate, you'll enjoy Sept. 19.

Photo credit: www.talklikeapirate.com

Ahoy, matey, swab the deck and gather ye wenches, as Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Actually, you don’t have to mop any decks or gather any wenches since it’s not act like a pirate day, but you do have to brush up on your pirate accent and vernacular if you want to participate. You can practice in front of a mirror with a few “arrrrrs” and “ayes” and “avasts!” Two ordinary landlubbers, John Baur and Mark Summers, created the day in 1995 and a few years later convinced humorist Dave Barry to jump on the bandwagon to promote the concept. If you can’t seem to get the pirate-speak down, but can somehow talk like Shakespeare, you’re in luck — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has declared April 23 as Talk Like Shakespeare Day in the Windy City.


2. Ask A Stupid Question Day (Sept. 28)

Ask A Stupid Question Day is held each August.

Photo credit: © Candybox Images/Dreamstime.com

If you ever wondered why some people press harder on the remote control when the batteries are dying or why other people think jamming their thumb into an elevator button 800 times will make the elevator descend more quickly, Sept. 28 is the day to ask about it. Ask a Stupid Question Day was apparently created by a bunch of schoolteachers sometime in the 1980s. One can only surmise it may have been a way to shuttle all the students’ weird questions into a single day instead of suffering through them all year long. We can’t be sure, but it’s a safe bet that the people who are so fond of saying, “There are no stupid questions …” do not celebrate this day.


1. Festivus (Dec. 23)

Festivus began as a plot gimmick on an episode of Seinfeld, but has become a real holiday.

A Festivus pole; Matthew Keefe

Although Festivus started as part of a plot on an episode of Seinfeld, it has evolved into a holiday that is growing in popularity around the world. Credit for the holiday goes to Seinfeld writer Daniel O’Keefe, who introduced Festivus in 1997, based on an O’Keefe family tradition dating to the 1960s. Just as in the Seinfeld episode, Festivus celebrants gather on this special day to air grievances and perform feats of strength like arm wrestling. Those who celebrate this secular holiday see it as an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas, which explains the requisite Festivus symbol — the Festivus pole, a simple, unadorned aluminum pole. It’s hard to tell whether people are celebrating Festivus out of genuine belief, or just to have fun, but each year seems to bring more buzz about the day. There is now an annual Festivus Film Festival in Denver; Festivus tree lots have opened in some cities; and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor holds an annual Festivus fundraiser.

Written by

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated humor books, hundreds of published articles, poems, illustrations, a weekly radio show and column, a full line of wacky artwork and numerous awards.