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17 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in May

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ThinkStock

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12. Go ahead and buy the card now. Once that’s taken care of, here are 17 much wackier holidays to keep it fun this month.

1. May 1: Loyalty Day

A lovely relic of our best years in the U.S.—the McCarthy Era. As communism gained popularity worldwide during the 1920s, the holiday of Labour Day, or May Day, on May 1st became closely tied to it. To combat the threat of the proletariat, it was proposed May 1st could also be a holiday for Americans to reaffirm their commitment to their homeland. Congress made it official in 1958, and former President Eisenhower made it formal by decreeing May 1st, 1959 an official holiday. It has since been honored annually by every subsequent President.

2. May 2: Scurvy Awareness Day

The preferred disease of pirates has its own international holiday, and an entire website to boot! Steer your ships over to Limestrong for citrusy cocktails, curvy-not-scurvy pin-ups, and drop some (citric) acid into your bloodstream!

3. May 3: Hug Your Cat Day

Not to be confused with Hug Somebody Else’s Cat Day. (Some celebrate Hug Your Cat Day on June 4th. Feel free to celebrate both.)

4. May 4: Star Wars Day

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May the fourth be with you. (And don't forget to pick up some Star Wars goodies to celebrate properly.)

5. May 5: Cinco de Mayo

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For many in the US, the 5th of May in Spanish justifies a 5th shot of tequila. Cinco de Mayo actually holds its roots in the Mexican state of Puebla. It commemorates the Mexican army defeating the better-equipped French army occupying their land at the time. As far as the addition of excessive drinking as part of the holiday, all signs point to America as the culprit.

6. May 6: National Nurses Day

National Nurses Day kicks off National Nurses Week which concludes on the O.G. nurse Florence Nightingale’s birthday. According to the reliable sources at Hallmark, there are currently 3.1 million registered nurses in the United States. Hallmark also alleges to be the first card company to invent, errr publish, National Nurses Day cards (in 1992). They now offer more than 20 different options, for males and females. At least they practice equality with their fake holidays, we’ll drink to that!

7. May 9: National Lost Sock Memorial Day

Today we honor the past, and we let go. It’s time to admit that one red argyle sock has gone to washing machine heaven. Time to turn the partner it left behind into a rag or a sock puppet, and buy a new pair. It’s what it would have wanted.

8. May 10: Clean Up Your Room Day

Also known as every child's least favorite day of the year, right behind Eat Your Brussels Sprouts Day and Do Your Homework Week. For the adults, this is a seasonal invitation to finally tackle that whole spring-cleaning thing—and torture your kids just a little.

9. May 11: National Twilight Zone Day

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and on the eleventh of May, plan on confronting the pit of your fears and the summit of your knowledge.” Today you must honor your parallel realities and dive deep into the dimension of imagination, known as the Twilight Zone.

10. May 13: Frog Jumping Day

One of Mark Twain’s first short stories introduced the image of the “jumping frog” into the collective consciousness of America. How this ties to this specific date is unclear, but do you really need a clear reason to jump around like a frog?

11. May 14: National Dance Like a Chicken Day

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Call up your local oom pah band, because today we Vogeltanz until we drop. Gather all the Arrested Development fanatics you know and start a round of your worst chicken impersonations. Or introduce your own interpretation of how the flightless bird might tango. All of the above suffice as celebrations, as long as your moves are fowl.

12. May 17: National Pack Rat Day

There’s a fine line between holding on to nostalgia, and being a serious contendor for an episode of Hoarders. But just for a day, you are permitted to openly cherish the growing stack of Signals catalogs piling up in your basement sans any judgment of concerned family and friends. Who knows? Maybe your Beanie Babies will become collectibles again, and the joke will be on us.

13. May 22: National Buy a Musical Instrument Day

Treat yourself to that baby grand you’ve always wanted. Don’t know how to play guitar? No problem! On this day in May, buy now, learn later!

14. May 23: Lucky Penny Day

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Keep your eyes glued to the ground, because the cards are stacked in your favor that today is your lucky one! Just make sure you see the face of Abraham Lincoln staring back at you, before you pick the penny up.

15. May 26: Sally Ride Day

NASA

As the first American woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride rightfully earned a full day dedicated to her honor. Remember when space was a thing?

16. May 29: End of Middle Ages Day

Barkeep, we’ll have a pint of your finest grog! Today in 1453, the official Middle Ages ended—allegedly. The conclusion of one era ushered in the Renaissance, and other subsequent influential periods in European history. You gave us Arthurian lore, you gave us a plague of Bubonic proportions, and you gave us Game of Thrones. For that— mostly the last part—we thank you.

17. May 30: My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It Day

Somewhat inspired by a folk song of the same name, My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it Day, or MBGHD, does not dictate any formal observational traditions. We suggest putting a positive spin on a crisis, and taking the day to reflect on how things could be worse. Unless, of course, you’re a bucket.

All images via Thinkstock unless otherwise noted.

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12 Things You Might Not Know About Juneteenth
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

There's more than one Independence Day in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced that slaves were now free. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated as Juneteenth across the nation. Here's what you should know about the historic event and celebration.

1. SLAVES HAD ALREADY BEEN EMANCIPATED—THEY JUST DIDN'T KNOW IT.

A page of the original Emancipation Proclamation on display from the National Archives.
A page of the original Emancipation Proclamation, from the National Archives.
ALEX WONG, AFP/Getty Images

The June 19 announcement came more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, so technically, from the Union's perspective, the 250,000 slaves in Texas were already free—but none of them were aware of it, and no one was in a rush to inform them.

2. THERE ARE MANY THEORIES AS TO WHY THE LAW WASN'T ENFORCED IN TEXAS.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union General Ulysses S Grant at the close of the American Civil War, at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union General Ulysses S Grant at the close of the American Civil War, at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

News traveled slowly back in those days—it took Confederate soldiers in western Texas more than two months to hear that Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. Still, some have struggled to explain the 30-month gap between the proclamation and freedom, leading some to suspect that Texan slave owners purposely suppressed the announcement. Other theories include that the original messenger was murdered to prevent the information from being relayed or that the Federal government purposely delayed the announcement to Texas in order to get one more cotton harvest out of the slaves. But the real reason is probably that Lincoln's proclamation simply wasn't enforceable in the rebel states before the end of the war.

3. THE ANNOUNCEMENT ACTUALLY URGED FREED SLAVES TO STAY WITH THEIR FORMER OWNERS.

Photograph portrait of Civil War General Gordon Granger
National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

General Order No. 3, as read by General Granger, said:

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."

4. WHAT FOLLOWED WAS KNOWN AS "THE SCATTER."

Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr

Obviously, most former slaves weren't terribly interested in staying with the people who had enslaved them, even if pay was involved. In fact, some were leaving before Granger had finished making the announcement. What followed was called "the scatter," when droves of former slaves left the state to find family members or more welcoming accommodations in northern regions.

5. NOT ALL SLAVES WERE FREED INSTANTLY.

Illustration of a white man reading something to a black slave.
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Texas is a large state, and General Granger's order (and troops to enforce it) were slow to spread. According to historian James Smallwood, many enslavers deliberately suppressed the information until after the harvest, and some beyond that. In July 1867 there were two separate reports of slaves being freed, and one report of a Texas horse thief named Alex Simpson whose slaves were only freed after his hanging in 1868.

6. FREEDOM CREATED OTHER PROBLEMS.

Mist and fog over a river
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Despite the announcement, Texas slave owners weren't too eager to part with what they felt was their property. When legally freed slaves tried to leave, many of them were beaten, lynched, or murdered. "They would catch [freed slaves] swimming across [the] Sabine River and shoot them," a former slave named Susan Merritt recalled.

7. THERE WERE LIMITED OPTIONS FOR CELEBRATING.

A monument in Houston's Emancipation Park.
A monument in Houston's Emancipation Park.
2C2KPhotography, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When freed slaves tried to celebrate the first anniversary of the announcement a year later, they were faced with a problem: Segregation laws were expanding rapidly, and there were no public places or parks they were permitted to use. So, in the 1870s, former slaves pooled together $800 and purchased 10 acres of land, which they deemed "Emancipation Park." It was the only public park and swimming pool in the Houston area that was open to African Americans until the 1950s.

8. JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS WANED FOR SEVERAL DECADES.

Scene from the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 1968.
Scene from the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 1968.
ARNOLD SACHS, AFP/Getty Images

It wasn't because people no longer wanted to celebrate freedom—but, as Slate so eloquently put it, "it's difficult to celebrate freedom when your life is defined by oppression on all sides." Juneteenth celebrations waned during the era of Jim Crow laws until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when the Poor People's March planned by Martin Luther King Jr. was purposely scheduled to coincide with the date. The march brought Juneteenth back to the forefront, and when march participants took the celebrations back to their home states, the holiday was reborn.

9. TEXAS WAS THE FIRST STATE TO DECLARE JUNETEENTH A STATE HOLIDAY.

A statue of former Texas state representative Al Edwards, who introduced legislation to have June 19 officially declared a state holiday.
A statue of former Texas state representative Al Edwards, who introduced legislation to have June 19 officially declared a state holiday.
ניקולס, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Texas deemed the holiday worthy of statewide recognition in 1980, the first state to do so.

10. JUNETEENTH IS STILL NOT A FEDERAL HOLIDAY.

Silhouette of woman walking
iStock

Though most states now officially recognize Juneteenth, it's still not a national holiday. As a senator, Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday, though it didn't pass then or while he was president. One supporter of the idea is 91-year-old Opal Lee—since 2016, Lee has been walking from state to state to draw attention to the cause.

11. THE JUNETEENTH FLAG IS FULL OF SYMBOLISM.

a mock-up of the Juneteenth flag
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Juneteenth flag designer L.J. Graf packed lots of meaning into her design. The colors red, white, and blue echo the American flag to symbolize that the slaves and their descendants were Americans. The star in the middle pays homage to Texas, while the bursting "new star" on the "horizon" of the red and blue fields represents a new freedom and a new people.

12. JUNETEENTH TRADITIONS VARY ACROSS THE U.S.

Juneteenth celebration participants taste the sweet potato pie entered in the cook-off contest during the festivities Richmond, California, in 2004.
Juneteenth celebration participants taste the sweet potato pie entered in the cook-off contest during the festivities Richmond, California, in 2004.
David Paul Morris, Getty Images

As the tradition of Juneteenth spread across the U.S., different localities put different spins on celebrations. In southern states, the holiday is traditionally celebrated with oral histories and readings, "red soda water" or strawberry soda, and barbecues. Some states serve up Marcus Garvey salad with red, green, and black beans, in honor of the black nationalist. Rodeos have become part of the tradition in the southwest, while contests, concerts, and parades are a common theme across the country.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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