9 Obscure Holidays in December (Besides Christmas)

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There are obscure holidays, and then there are really obscure holidays. I used to think Canadian Boxing Day and Three Kings' Day were weird; in reality, there are so many holidays stuffed into our calendar that you could spend the whole year observing them and still miss a few. Here are a few of my favorite upcoming weird holidays.

December 5: Bathtub Party Day
The online herbalists at wellcat.com copyrighted this holiday in order, I have to assume, to inspire people to buy essential oils and fancy salts to add to their bathwater. I'm not sure what their definition of "party" is, but the way I see it, there's a 50% chance that Bathtub Party Day is the only holiday on our calendar which advocates having multiple, simultaneous sex partners. (Speaking of bathtubs, December 5 is also repeal day, which celebrates the end of Prohibition and the need to create bathtub gin.)

December 6: St. Nicholas Day
This is weird on two counts: not only does St. Nick have his own day, but it's also not December 25, the day we normally associate with this most roly-poly of saints. Also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker, he was a Greek bishop whose reputation for selfless gift-giving made him the inspiration for Santa Claus. For his work helping the poor, he's also the patron saint of pawnbrokers (for those of you who didn't realize that pawnbrokers needed divine intercession).

December 7: National Cotton Candy Day
Invented in 1897 and originally marketed as "fairy floss," cotton candy first became popular at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. It was officially renamed in the 1920s.

December 8: Take it in the Ear Day
I have no idea what this day means, who invented it, or what I'm supposed to do to celebrate. (Or what, exactly, I am meant to be taking into my ear.) There is, however, a nifty tee-shirt you can buy commemorating the event, which makes me suspect that perhaps tee-shirt designers are the ones behind TIITE day.

December 12: Poinsettia Day
Poinsettias have long been associated with the holiday season, but that's not the reason behind this day. It was created by an act of Congress in 1851 in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, a United States ambassador to Mexico, who first brought the plants back from our neighbor to the south. He died on December 12, 1851.

December 21: Forefathers' Day
If you know your historical dates, you'll know that December 21, 1620 was the day the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. First celebrated in 1769 in honor of the pilgrims, this was an ill-fated holiday that eventually fell into obscurity in favor of Thanksgiving. (Do we really need to get excited about the pilgrims more than once a year?)

December 21: National Flashlight Day
This sounds like just another random holiday until you realize that December 21 is also the Winter Solstice -- the darkest and shortest day of the year. As long as you're celebrating, here's some fun flashlight trivia: it was invented in 1898 by Joshua Lionel Cowan, who also invented the Lionel train.

December 23: Festivus (for the rest of us)
Seinfeld fans, of which there are many, will get it right away. Created by staff writer Daniel O'Keefe, it refers to a fake holiday made up by his father Dan in 1966 to celebrate his first date with his future wife.

The holiday includes novel practices such as the "Airing of Grievances", in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. Also, after the Festivus meal, the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned. These conventions originated with the TV episode. The original holiday featured far more peculiar practices, as detailed in the younger Daniel O'Keefe's book The Real Festivus, which provides a first-person account of an early version of the Festivus holiday as celebrated by the O'Keefe family, and how O'Keefe amended or replaced details of his father's invention to create the Seinfeld episode.

December 29: Pepper Pot Day
This real, actual holiday commemorates a thick, spicy soup that was created to feed the Continental Army during the fantastically harsh winter of 1777-78. George Washington's chef combined scraps of tripe, small bits of meat and some peppercorn with spices to create "the soup that won the war."

November 20, 2009 - 8:36am
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