When most people think about the holidays, they get excited about having a day off or perhaps a long weekend.
According to the Office of Personnel Management’s Web site, there are 10 holidays for federal employees: New Year’s Day, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
There is even an “in lieu of” holidays clause if one of the holidays falls on a non-work day.
This got me thinking about what holidays aren’t the norm. What obscure holidays are out there, and who celebrates them?
With widespread national and international days currently celebrated, there is a long list of obscure “holidays” we could each celebrate daily. It is easy to make it a habit to celebrate every day, as there are national and international days that can be found on various designated Web sites.
You can even buy a daily calendar to remind you what “day” it is for you to celebrate.
For example, Thursday, Jan. 30, was National Croissant Day. In the United States, National Croissant Day recognizes a flaky pastry that can be enjoyed at every meal. Croissants are buttery, crescent-shaped rolls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Now, if you were in marketing at a bakery and knew about this day, wouldn’t it make sense to have a special on croissants, or if you were a national magazine to feature a recipe for this treat?
National days are a perfect way to boost your own business’ social media marketing. You can research the national days ahead of time and schedule the posts, molding the content to your product or service.
This is a great way to spread the celebration.
For me two “holidays” came to mind, Groundhog Day and Arbor Day.
I’m not sure when my obsession started with Groundhog Day, but it was before the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day” in 1993. This holiday falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – Feb. 2. It is a significant day in several ancient and modern traditions.
The first official Groundhog Day took place Feb. 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pa. It was the inspiration of a local newspaper’s editor, Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters on the idea.
The group met at a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of good or bad news. Did he see his shadow or not? What a great tourism idea for this small rural town 64 miles from Pittsburg with a population just under 6,000. Now tens of thousands of spectators attend each year partaking in the town’s annual celebration.
This year, Groundhog Day falls on a Sunday, so the town is having a three-day celebration that includes live music, the annual ice sculpting and corn hole contests and of course, Groundhog Phil’s prediction if it will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
For the official schedule be sure to visit the Web site www.groundhog.org. As this Groundhog Day, 02-02-2020 has been deemed epic (not just because this is also the day which the New England Patriots aren’t playing in the Super Bowl). If you see me, I’ll be the one in the Groundhog ears. May he predict an early spring.
“Arbor Day is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future,” as stated by J. Sterling Morton (1832-1902).
Arbor Day originated in the Great Plains, an area not always associated with trees and forests. J. Sterling Morton moved from Michigan to the newly formed Nebraska Territory in 1854. He endeavored to encourage tree planting to improve the environment and to beautify the landscape to attract settlers to the area.
On April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, his idea to set aside a day for planting and calling attention to trees became the first Arbor Day. In 1885, Nebraska declared Morton’s birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day. Besides being an editor of the Nebraska City News, Morton served as U.S. secretary of agriculture under President Grover Cleveland from 1892-97.
This national day is celebrated in all 50 states, as well as many countries. The day of observance varies, depending on the best time of year to plant trees.
In Minnesota this year it will be celebrated April 24. May has also been designated Arbor Month. How did I fall for this holiday? I have always grown up with beautiful trees in my yard. I have always loved those tall beautiful trees that give off oxygen for the world.
Planting a tree for a special occasion or in memory of a loved one is a common tradition. You can even procure a free tree at times during the Arbor Day celebration. Visit www.arborday.org for more information on how you can support Arbor Day.
As I was researching this article I decided to reach out to my family and friends on social media to see what their favorite obscure “holiday” was.
The first hit I received was from ‘Jake at the Library’ with World Rat Day which is April 4. He is also happy it is the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese New Year.
Two people voted for Sept. 19 since they both enjoy talking like a pirate.
For Seinfeld fans, Festivus may ring a bell, as it was used in the Dec. 18, 1997 episode entitled “The Strike”. Festivus was originally created by the family of Seinfeld screenwriter, Dan O’Keefe, in 1966. It was designed as a “non-holiday” by the family and would randomly take place anytime from December to May. As it was celebrated Dec. 23 in the episode, it is commonly celebrated on that day by people around the world.
There seems to be a day for just about everyone.
There Pi Day for math geeks, Roc Day for those who use spinning wheels (yes this is a thing celebrated the day after Epiphany), May 3 is National Paranormal Day, May the 4th for Star Wars fans (not to be outshined by Nov. 17 the important day on the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk called Life Day, which is a celebration of nature, family and new life) and believe it or not there is even a ‘Be Nice to Jersey Week’ this year the week of July 3-9.
As a New Yorker (OK upstate New Yorker) I still find it fun picking on people from New Jersey. Old habits die hard, but I'll be sure to give a shout out to my Jersey peeps this year.
History geeks and foodies can have their pick of days to celebrate. If you can’t settle on a day to celebrate, why not pick a month. February is National Hot Breakfast Month, which is a great excuse to dust off the pots and pans and have a serious morning meal.
As everyone knows I love cooking, researching, giraffes and being left-handed. So be sure to write June 21, Aug. 13 and Sept. 17 on your calendars, World Giraffe Day, National Left-Handers day and of course, my birthday.
Whatever Web site or app you choose to use to find out what today’s national day is, be sure to celebrate.
– Nicole Elzenga is the executive director of the Renville County Historical Society