17 Offbeat Holidays and Anniversaries to Celebrate in December

Image credit: 
Getty Images

Halfway through last December, we gave you 11 unusual holidays to make the month even more festive. While we still highly endorse observing National Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day (December 18th) and National Cover Anything With Chocolate Day (December 16th), we found plenty of other reasons to keep your spirits bright all month.

1. December 1st: (A Proposed) Scrabble Day

Much to the chagrin of the Scrabulous inventors and the annoyance of Words with Friends, this granddaddy of word games is copyrighted. On this day in 1948, the U.S. Copyright Office made an honest board game out of Scrabble. In honor of this event, we propose all December 1sts be recognized as National Scrabble Day. (The holiday is currently held on April 13, the birthday of inventor Alfred Mosher Butts.)

2. December 3rd: 20th Anniversary of the First Text Message

Getty Images

SMS was born on this date in 1992. The first message, sent to a Vodafone engineer, was "Merry Christmas." Celebrate every time you don't have to actually pick up the phone and call someone.

3. December 4th: National Cookie Day

Getty Images

December isn’t exactly lacking in opportunities to indulge in sweet treats, but today it’s your offbeat-holiday-given right to mix, bake, and/or eat as many cookies as your glycemic index can handle.

4. December 5th: International Ninja Day

The official website of Ninja Day alleges this holiday not only honors all things stealth and nunchucks, but also combats the more nautical offbeat holiday, “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which takes place in September. Creep, sneak, or redirect all of your Urls to Ninja activity—as long as you forgo the “arrrr matey’s” and eye patches for ominous silence and masks, you’re correctly celebrating this international holiday.

5. December 8th: Blessing of the Water Day, Uruguay

Getty Images

Sometimes called “Beach Day,” this Uruguayan holiday involves a contest: Religious leaders send a cross into the ocean, and whoever gets to it first is guaranteed a year’s worth of good fortune.

6. December 9th: Weary Willie Day

Wikimedia Commons

Professional clown Emmett Kelly created one of the more memorable clown characters of the 20th century: “Weary Willie.” Unlike many of his clown predecessors, Weary Willie opted out of white face paint and broad slapstick for the “tramp” look popular among Depression-era derelicts. One of his signature routines involved attempting to sweep up after circus acts, and failing in spite of himself—to the delight and empathy of the audience.

7. December 10th: Nobel Prize Day

Getty Images

Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel may have died on this day in 1896, but his namesake continues to be honored through the world’s most prestigious award. In honor of his life, the Nobel Prize Ceremony is held every year on the day of his death.

8. December 12th: Festival of Unmentionable Thoughts

We would love to tell you about the origin of this fest or how one goes about celebrating it, but, well, common decency prevents us.

9. December 13th: National Cocoa Day

Getty Images

The weather outside is starting to get frightful, but what better cure for the temperature blues than a nice cup of hot cocoa? A down coat or a wool hat simply can’t compete in the taste department.

10. December 14th: Monkey Day

ARNE DEDERT/epa/Corbis

According to the official Monkey Day website, Monkey Day is an “annual celebration of all things simian, a festival of primates, a chance to scream like a monkey and throw feces at whomever you choose.” The origins of the holiday are unknown, though it has been observed since at least 2003. We mentioned it last year, but just really wanted to use that picture again.

11. December 15th: National Cat Herder’s Day

Getty Images

Another gem from last year's list. Cat herding is as difficult as it sounds. Founded by a California couple, National Cat Herder’s Day isn’t just for people who actually wrangle felines, but also those whose lives or jobs feel as if they are constantly herding around cats. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it will help to add the celebration of this obscure holiday to your Saturday schedule.

12. December 16th: The 15th Anniversary of That Bizarre Pokemon Incident

On this date in 1997, over 600 kids in Japan were rushed to hospitals after an especially intense Pokemon episode led to dizziness and vomiting. Maybe just turn the TV off today and celebrate outside.

13. December 16th: Beethoven’s Birthday

Getty Images

We wish he could have been born on the 5th, too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still listen to his famed 5th Symphony to celebrate his birthday. But if we’re playing the numbers game, he did happen to compose exactly 16 string quartets. Coincidence? (Yes.)

14. December 22nd: 100th Birthday of the Late Lady Bird Johnson

Getty Images

We challenge you to find an American first lady with a more memorable nickname. While the legacy of her eponym is certainly enough, she proved herself to be a savvy political voice in Washington. After bankrolling the other LBJ’s first Congressional campaign, this LBJ became a high-powered businesswoman (she made their first million) and champion of the aesthetic health of our nation’s highways. Lady Bird also became the first First Lady to have her very own press secretary.

15. December 23rd: Festivus!

Then of course, there’s always Festivus for the rest of us. Created by a Seinfeld writer's father and popularized by Frank Costanza, this secular holiday that involves gathering around an aluminum pole and airing your grievances has continued to gain a following since its introduction in 1997. If you haven’t seen the episode, there’s an entire website that spells out how to celebrate Festivus from start to finish. (Test your Festivus knowledge with this quiz.)

16. December 24th: The End of the War of 1812 (in 1814)

Just in time for Christmas, the Americans and the British got their stuff together to sign the Treaty of Ghent, thus ending the War of 1812. Contrary to what this conflict might lead you to believe, the war lasted far past its inaugural year, and despite the peace treaty signature in 1814, the war didn't even officially end until 1815. On this day, we could always celebrate freedom and democracy—but why not honor inaccurately named conflicts too?

17. December 28th: 280th Anniversary of Poor Richard’s Almanac

Wikimedia Commons

Imagine a periodical where you could access your calendar, the weather forecasts, poetry, stories, astrological facts, and much more all in one place? Poor Richard’s Almanac was kind of like the 18th-century iPhone. On this day in 1732, Benjamin Franklin released his famous pseudonym and annual publication to the American colonies. Fame, fortune, and a revolution would follow for Ben. Thanks to the legacy of this publication, we all know what an early bedtime and early rise can yield a man.

More from mental_floss...

December 3, 2012 - 8:20am
submit to reddit