Need something new and unconventional to celebrate this year? We might just have the holiday for you.
It’s a new year, which means a full 12 months of holidays we’ve grown to know and look forward to, like Christmas, the Fourth of July and National Hollerin’ Contest Day.
Yes, that’s a “holiday.” Maybe not an official one, but the folks in Spivey’s Corner created that day and it has been celebrated in North Carolina for almost 50 years. In fact, it turns out there are a lot of such special days or celebrations marked annually on someone’s calendar somewhere.
Today, we offer a look at 10 of these not-quite-so-well-known holidays, in the hopes of broadening your annual celebration choices and possibly giving you more things to look forward to in 2018.
Humiliation Day, Jan. 3: (We missed this one this year, but there’s always 2019. Stay humble.)
While this day sounds like it honors the opportunity to humiliate people, it’s a day NOT to humiliate anyone. It’s meant to focus on humility toward mankind.
There’s also Canadian Humiliation Day on July 1, which was originated in 1923 by Chinese Canadian immigrants for the purpose of placing focus on the Canadian government’s ban on Chinese immigration, according to holidayinsights.com.
One way to celebrate: In my best Patrick Swayze voice from “Roadhouse”: “Just be nice.”
This holiday was created by author Donita K. Paul with the purpose of engaging the history and cultural folklore of dragons, in advance of her new book, “DragonSpell.” Most dragons are portrayed as big scaly creatures that breathe fire, but they have been portrayed in many ways, including dragons that fly, others that blow ice and still others that are poisonous. Legends tell of knights of the Middle Ages who would seek a dragon to fight as a show of bravery. It’s been said if you bathe in dragon’s blood you can see into the future. A dragon’s tooth is believed to be good luck. Dragons are sometimes shown as an evil creatures, sometimes not.
One way to celebrate: Make sure you hug your dragon on this day. And watch the movie “DragonHeart,” a 1996 must-see for all dragon lovers.
This one might quack you up. Are you thinking lame feathered friends? Wrong. It’s a day for humans whose job or position is coming to an end. The term “lame duck” is used in a political context to mean someone whose time in elected office or official position is soon ending. The phrase originated far from politics though, at the 18th-century London Stock Exchange, and referred to a defaulter. The term evolved through the 19th century and began applying to an elected official on his or her way out of office.
Having a limited time in office, “lame ducks” are considered to be freer in their political decision making. They often don’t have to worry about the repercussions of their decisions at the end of their term and tend to make politically riskier choices.
One way to celebrate: Honor any lame ducks you may have around you. If you personally know of one, throw them a going away party. And learn more about the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, sometimes referred to as the “lame duck amendment.” (By the way, did you know that a group of ducks is called a team or a raft? Bonus fun fact.)
This one makes you wonder how someone has so much free time on their hands (or thumbs). But the thumb is certainly worth honoring; it’s one of the things that make humans different from most other species, allowing them to perform tasks many can’t.
One way to celebrate: Give yourself a thumbs-up, and say thanks for all the things your thumbs allow you to do every day. (I also personally thank God my dogs don’t have thumbs. I can’t imagine having to compete for computer time. They already try to type! And can you see your pet giving you a thumbs-up after going for a walk? Freaky!)
This day encourages us to support and be aware of the need to help save the rhinoceros from extinction. Native to Africa and quickly dwindling in numbers, rhinos are hunted for sport by poachers just for the shear pleasure in killing them and for its horn, which is sought after for many things including medications, knives, artifacts, etc. Did you know the horn of the rhinoceros is made of the same substance as your fingernails. (Feel like raising awareness twice a year? There’s also World Rhino Day in September.)
One way to celebrate: Visit a rhinoceros exhibit at the nearest zoo. Most zoos celebrate the day by hosting activities and events for the children, as well as offering educational materials. Sign “save the rhino” petitions online and donate to Save the Rhino and other organizations that work to support rhinoceroses and spread the word about their plight. If you really want to celebrate, rent a rhino suit and stand at a busy spot with a sign that promotes the cause.
It’s a weird but fun day for the entire family. Celebrated mostly in the United States and Europe, this is a modern spin on an old tradition that involved storing your linens in your pantry for good luck, according to timeanddate.com.
Pillow head fun fact: Historians believe people have been using pillows in bed since 7,000 BC.
One way to celebrate: Go ahead. Put a pillow on your refrigerator, and maybe clue your family into why you’re doing it. Want more? Make or decorate a special pillow for this day and write on it the things you wish for or hope will come your way. Make it a project for the whole family.
International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Sept. 19:
This day was created in 1995 by John Baur (aka “Ol’ Chumbucket”) and Mark Summers (“Cap’n Slappy”). They pretty much kept it to themselves — forgot about it, might be more accurate — until 2002, when they sent a chance email to humor writer Dave Barry, who latched onto the idea and wrote about the boys. The rest is history, mateys. Today, the day is celebrated around the world and has collected a lot of donations for various charities.
One way to celebrate: Talk like a pirate the entire day. Wear an eye patch. Bestrew your speech with grunts, slur your words and intentionally use bad grammar in a pirate-y way. “Arrr, matey, did yar learn anything new?” (OK, that’s the extent of my talking like a pirate. I’m sure you can do better.)
As mentioned before, this day gives you a chance to yell and scream as loud as you can. It originated in 1969 in Spivey’s Corner, N.C. (population 75; I have been there!). After a visit to give it a listen six years ago, the blog Varsity Now described the event as “pig hollers, where-are-you hollers, come-in-for-dinner hollers, going-into-labor hollers and song hollers. The hollers range from ear-splitting to musical. All of them sound a bit like yodeling, with an echo of a rebel yell.”
One way to celebrate: Go! Super intrigued? Go, and bring along a holler and a good story to go with it!
Plan Your Epitaph Day, Nov. 2 (or April 6):
Why would anyone create this day I first thought? Who wants to think about this, let alone celebrate it? But honestly, how many times have you been in that awful situation of losing someone dear to you and you don’t have a clue what to say? I know one family member (I won’t mention HIS name) who put the wrong birth date on my mother’s gravestone. So, I recommend you get those facts in order before you need them.
Funeral fun fact: This holiday originated on Nov. 2 to coincide with the last day of the “Day of the Dead” celebration and was created by Lance Hardie, who published “How to Write Your Own Epitaph.”
One way to celebrate: Use this day to think about the legacy you will leave behind and how you want that legacy described on your gravestone. Gather with friends in a cemetery, have lunch and read gravestones, then discuss how you want yours to read. And who knows, you might stumble on a famous person’s epitaph!
Oh, the possibilities, but be careful: Ever hear of the “grandfather paradox”? Should a person go back in time with the purpose of killing one’s maternal grandfather prior to him having biological children, and is successful, the person’s mother wouldn’t be born, rendering the killer non-existent. Meaning that person — the killer — can’t go back in time to kill his/her grandfather.
Physics fun fact: Some physicists believe time travel may one day be possible. “We can travel at different rates to the future,” said Seth Lloyd, a professor of quantum mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told LiveScience.com in 2012. “To go into the past and mess around with it, that’s more controversial.”
One way to celebrate: Pretend to be a time traveler. Make a top 10 list of places and times you would or would not go and why! It may start you on your science fiction writing career. If nothing else, it will be fun to imagine another time and place while stuck in a dreary winter day in January 2018. And who knows? Perhaps we will see each other “Back to the Future”!
Torey Seymour-Russell is a freelance writer living in Farmington.