There are so many major observances that are celebrated in December that many of these important January dates may go overlooked. January is a lot more than the aftermath of December. Let's get ready for it now!
New Year's Day
The first day of the New Year on the modern (and most ancient) Gregorian Calendars. The lunar-based Jewish Colander (still used in Israel and for tracking Jewish dates and events around the world) sets the New Year in the Fall and some Eastern Orthodox folks observe it on January 14th.
It marks a new beginning, new hopes, opportunities and promises to the self and to others. On the following New Year, people can assess what they really committed themselves to and what they were kidding themselves about.
Science Fiction Day
On this, the 'official' birthdate of Russian-born science fiction author Isaac Asimov, fans make it a point to read, re-read and/or discuss Mr. Asimov's impressive array of literary creations with others who are so inclined. Over the years since its inception, other authors have been welcomed into Science Fiction Day observances including - just last year in Marin County, CA, "Star Wars" maestro, George Lucas.
Festival of Sleep Day
The Festival of Sleep Day was created by tired out folks for people that would like to get some "shut eye" and relaxation after the holidays. After the Thanksgiving gorging, Christmas shopping deadlines and the New Year celebrations, it just might be time to celebrate - by withdrawing, restfully and for a while into "Sleep Land". Observe this increasingly popular but still unofficial holiday this year!
A holiday with different explanations but all in agreement that both should and does exist. It is observed, of course, by cooking and eating spaghetti, having spaghetti parties, dressing up like spaghetti and the like. Purists tend to ascribe its inception to the old 1950's TV commercials for canned "Prince" spaghetti. "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day!"
Although the American Pasta Association celebrates the more generic 'pasta' in October, spaghetti devotees are hearing none of that. Who can 'zoop' the longest sauced strand into their mouth in the quickest time? Games are too numerous to count here. Celebrate it in your own way - But be sure to celebrate it!
Epiphany celebrates, in the New Testament, the arrival of the Magi (the Three Kings) at the stable where the newborn Christ child was. They bore gifts! That was, perhaps, the actual Scriptural genesis of what has become the tradition of gift giving at Christmas.
In many parts of the world, this day, 12 days after Christmas, is celebrated as the major Christmastime holiday - This is especially true in many Central and South American countries. Also of note, this day is sometimes referred to as Little Christmas, is "The Twelfth Day of Christmas" (In the well-known song of that names and is the day alluded to in William Shakespeare's famous play, "Twelfth Night.")
Birthday: David Bowie
The birth date of the man born David Robert Jones .... "Major Tong to Ground Control" 70s rocker and musical provocateur, David Bowie (pronounced ("Boo-eee")
Birthday: Bob Eubanks
The birth date or Robert "Bob" Leland Eubanks, game show host extraordinaire. The Newlywed Game could never have been what it was without him "makin' whoopee" with both the guests and the audience.
Rock 'n' Roll Day (Elvis Presley's Birthday)
What else needs be said? The King, Graceland, Blue Suede Shoes, Hips ... Grab a record player (if you can find one,) some old 45s and maybe some white socks... Then rock out!!
Birthday: Larry (born Alfred) Storch
The birthday of "F Troop's" bungling Corporal Randolph Agarn. Lots of voice-over work in the years that followed, including that of Mr. Whoopie on "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales." We wouldn't want to omit anything or anyone of real social significance!
A day to acknowledge and honor one of the more challenging roles an adult can assume - That of being a step parent. Not the parent and yet in the position of often expecting himself to try to be one. Tough job for sure and one worthy of one day a year to remember that it isn't always easy.
Birthday: Bob Denver
Who could ever (if s/he were born in time) forget the ever hipstering, bongo-playing, goateed beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis? ("Like, wow, man!!") Later on, acquiring still greater fame as the IQ-deficient but cartoonishly charming title character on Gilligan's Island?
Where's the Beef Day
In a 1984 television commercial for Wendy's, Clara Peller made the line, "Where's the beef?!" a catchphrase in the American vernacular meaning something like, "I don't see what is supposed to be here! Am I blind or is the darned thing so small it can't be seen?! Is there anything really there at all?!"
This day commemorates all the things in life that that now famous line might be appropriately applied to in any given place at any given time. The actual date was chosen to coincide with the first broadcast of the commercial back in 1984.
I'm quite sure that anyone could think of a lot of examples of using the phrase appropriately today. On this date, share a few associations (and accusations) with friends.
Amelia Earhart Day
No, this is neither the date of her birth nor of her disappearance. Rather, it was on this date in 1935, Amelia became the first woman to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Already an accomplished aviatrix, she took this one on about a year and a half before being heard from for the final time in July 1937. On her day, we recall the accomplishments of courageous women who allowed neither sexism nor social convention interfere with their adventurous spirits!
The second Monday in January
Clean Off Your Desk Day
This one speaks for itself. Especially pertinent to those of you who may, as I do, have a roll top desk. Those little drawers we used to collect odds and ends in have grown to include BIG drawers and desks! At least once a year, well in advance of the customary 'Spring Cleaning," an annual desk clean-up is in order.
Amazing what you will find, including literally dozens of smaller things you had given up on ever seeing again. An event filled with surprises and delights! (Some may need to repeat this task monthly... the 11th of the month is as good as any other.)
Secret Pal Day
The day, created by online e-card companies in the late 1990's commemorating everyone's need for friends and acknowledging the likelihood that most people like someone who doesn't know about it. Akin, in that way, to sending an anonymous Valentine, Secret Pal Day encourages us to send a card to that special person whose specialness we have, somehow, neglected to mention.
Stephen Foster Memorial Day
Yes, believe it or not, this is an actual Federal Observance Day to be marked by court closings and white judges boot blacking their faces to get down with some good ol' minstrel music! "Way Down upon the Swanee River" brought confused tears to my eyes when we were made so sing it and others of the same ilk as part of our esteemed Boston public education. Today, the Federal Government apparently still sees nothing wrong with celebrating the composer of who musically institutionalized some of the most blatant disregard of human beings in the history of the Western World.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On this, the birthday of Dr. King, the Nation pays tribute to a man who has come to personify the non-violent commitment but persistence and tenacity of the Civil Rights Movement in this country.
This is one of the Holidays that the Federal Government chose to reassign to a specific Monday (the 3rd one each January. In 2014, the Holiday will be observed on Monday, January 20th.) so as to 'gift' the day as a predictable 3-day weekend for Public Employees. The irony is cutting as the Federal and State Governments of his day were a bigger part of the problem than they were of the solution.
Religious Freedom Day
There are many holidays with similar names celebrated on various days all over the world. Here in the United States, this one commemorates the adoption of Thomas Jefferson's landmark "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom" that was first publically published back in 1786.
It is interesting to note that unlike the aforementioned "Stephen Foster Memorial Day," there is no formal Federal Observance. I guess that is understandable - Priorities (or categorical thoughtlessness) being what they are to those in power.
Prohibition Remembrance Day
The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by Congress on this date in 1919 and became the law of the land one year (to the precise day) later. Unpopular with many Americans from the outset, exceptions were made from the start and enforcement was spotty and selective. Lots of people got rich bringing whisky in from Canada where it remained legal (like Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., for example) and many reputations were made on both sides of the legal fence as results of this governmental attempt to control the choices of its citizens.
It remained (The Volstead Act) the law of the land, however, until fully repealed in the 21st Amendment in 1933. I suppose that the coinciding of this date with Religious Freedom Day is some kind of 'mere' coincidence.... Or, is it?
Although National Popcorn month is in October, this day commemorating the movie-goers traditional gets-stuck-in-your-braces treat is celebrated in January. Various explanations include a reference to an early Super Bowl and to a secretly celebrated day in the family of the well known Orville Redenbacher. The complete truth will never be known, especially as the card makers have elected to not add production to promote this particular 'oddiday.'
In the United States, every four years we hold a Presidential election in November. 2 ½ months later, after there has been some tome for transitional work and for the American voters to either get their hopes up or to reaffirm their doubts, a President is sworn in to office in one of the most solemn and lavish displays of ceremonial tradition still active in this country.
Since the most recent inauguration was in 2009, the next several are to occur in 2013, 2017 and 2021. This is presuming, of course, that the world does not actually end in 2013. If it does, I suppose the event will not go off as planned.
Celebrated in many popular comic strips, Opposite Day is a day (the exact date just might be chosen at random but seemed like a good fit near the beginning of a new year).when everything spoken is heard and reacted to as though exactly the opposite had been said.
Some have suggested that it is somehow related to the "Bizarro" world in the Superman comics of the 1950's where a machine-gone-awry created a world where everything was 180 degrees opposite of what had been copied and everything that was said meant exactly the obverse of itself.
It has been suggested, more recently, by scholars doing Top Secret research for the CIA, that the day actually is a rarely acknowledged but quite normative and daily activity of Government. Rumor has it that the holiday was created by adults who had been identified as suffering from a psychiatric condition called ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) when they were kids who grew up to be very influential people.
National Hugging Day
Credited to the State of Michigan, National Hugging Day has a name that says it all. Go out and find somebody to hug ... Preferably someone you already know and like, thus reducing the chances that an unsolicited physical embrace might trigger a legal problem of some kind.
California Gold Discovery Day
Commemorates the date in 1848 when gold was first discovered at Sutter's Mill, California by one James Wilson Marshall - kicking off one of the most massive treasure hunts in the history of Western Civilization. A few of those 49ers got to the right places first and either became wealthy or, just as likely, were murdered for their finds. Most got there too late and died pretty horrible deaths.
While it is said that it is hope that springs eternal, the Gold Rush suggests that what remained in Pandora's Box when everything else escaped was not hope at all, but greed.
National Handwriting Day
Introduced (Surprisingly!) by the Writing Instruments Manufacturing Association in 1977, the idea was foe everybody to take pen or pencil in hand and recall the skills we once made more use of before keyboards became the ubiquitous tool of choice for putting thoughts to paper. Interestingly, oven in these difficult economic times, there remains a market for both inexpensive and very upscale pens.
When I was a kid, we all had to learn to write in cursive just like a Mr. Palmer ... No more. If the world were to revert to handwritten communication, we would soon discover that legible penmanship had become a culturally devalued and nearly lost art.
Square Dance Day
While some places list Square Dance Day as happening on November 29th, others say it is January 25th. Aficionados of this symmetrical folksy partnered gliding and stomping argue that there cannot be too many Square Dance Days. So... grab your partner and allemande left and dosey-doe!
Peanut Brittle Day
No idea why or how! I suspect, like Jujube Day, it was invented by dentists to generate business replacing amalgams (fillings) that are predictably pulled out when certain foods are eaten. Asked for a comment, my email to the President of the American Dental Association received no reply.
Thomas Crapper Day
Though there is ample historical evidence that the flush toilet was not, in fact, first introduced by Mr. Crapper, something about his association with its development coupled with the magical sound of his name in that context has caused Americans to credit him with giving us one of the most important (and regularly used) appliances in most households.
The day is celebrated by people keeping a tally of how many times they use and flush their toilet(s) on this date - the prize being that the person who has used it least is responsible for giving a thorough scrubbing down that night.
Seem unfair? Of course. After all, it is a crapper of a day!
Corn Chip Day
A day commemorating (and gorging ones self with) corn chips. No, they did not always exist. Fritos, for example, were introduced in 1961. Some holidays, like some religions, seem to pop up out of nowhere and without historical precedent... perhaps without need!
The carnation was originally called dianthus by the Greek botanist Theophrastus. It has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. No one seems to know why this day was chosen. There is speculation among holidayologists that, like the Catholic Church adding yet another Saint who requires yet another day, there were only so many left to choose from. The fact that the carnation does not routinely bloom in January was, apparently, of no consequence whatever. If you can find one, wear it. Pink is preferred.
National Gorilla Suit Day
A creation of Mad Magazine's founder and ex-officio resident lunatic Don Martin, this is the day to end the old year by getting crazy - and, to Mr. Martin, nothing could be more completely nutty that everyone running around doing their routine daily business dressed as a gorilla.
And there you have it! A special month full of very special (and not so special) holidays, commemorations, observances and wacky ideas. Make it a good month by creating a holiday of your own. As you can see, there are still available days!!