Happy Phi Day: The Last Day to Match the Golden Ratio for a Century

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iStock

Math whizzes may have noticed something particularly pleasing about today's date. According to Bloomberg, June 1, 2018 (formatted as 1/6/18 in many parts of the world) is Phi Day, a date that matches the first four digits of the golden ratio.

Represented by the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet, the golden ratio, which comes out to roughly 1.618 when rounded, is the number you get when you divide a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is the same as the total length divided by the longer part (or simplified: When the smaller is to the larger as the larger is to the whole).

Non-mathematicians might know it better as the number that appears constantly in nature, art, and architecture. The Pyramids at Giza, Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man," nautilus shells, sunflower seed heads, and spiral galaxies all feature the golden ratio.

The golden ratio is also closely related to the famous Fibonacci sequence. In this series of numbers beginning with zero or one, each subsequent number equals the sum of the previous two (i.e., 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc.). The ratio of any two successive numbers in this sequence comes very close to the golden ratio. Shapes made with Fibonacci dimensions are considered pleasing to the eye, which is why they so often appear in art, either unintentionally or by design.

Unlike other math holidays such as Pi Day, Phi Day only comes once a century. You can celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime occasion by taking a walk outside and seeing how many examples of the golden ratio you can spot in your neighborhood.

[h/t Bloomberg]

25 Weird Holidays You Can Celebrate in January

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iStock.com/patrickheagney

Though the official end-of-year "holiday season" may be over, January is chock-full of very fun, very specific, and sometimes very weird holidays to help you ease your way into 2019.

1. January 1: National Hangover Day

Two young women passed out after partying too hard
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If you find yourself nursing a serious hangover on New Year’s Day you can at least rest easy in the fact that someone has made an official day dedicated to your misery.

2. January 1: Z Day

This holiday is intended to give recognition to all persons, places, and things that begin with the letter Z, and thus are often listed or thought of last. Go ahead—drink a Zima!

3. January 1: First Foot Day

A Scottish New Year tradition, the first person to step into someone’s home is called the first-footer and is thought to represent good fortune entering the household by bringing a handful of goodies including coal, whiskey, cash, cheese, and/or bread. Sorry ladies and blonde men: In order to be considered “lucky,” the first-footer should always be a dark-haired man—and flat feet are a no-no.

4. January 2: Happy Mew Year For Cats Day

This punny day is basically just another occasion to honor and fawn all over our feline friends. What more do we need to say?

5. January 3: Fruitcake Toss Day

A sliced fruitcake covered in candied fruits sits on a stone cutting board.
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Although it may sound like a culinary Olympic event, Fruitcake Toss Day just marks the time when it is finally socially acceptable to trash all of the holiday fruitcakes you received. Though, technically, a few of those boozy loaves have been known to last for a century or more. So getting rid of them right away really isn’t necessary.

6. January 3: Memento Mori Day

Memento mori is Latin for “remember you will die.” And what better way to get a fresh start on a new year than to consider this inevitability. The event’s founders swear it wasn't meant to be morbid; it’s more of a “seize the day” thing.

7. January 4: National Trivia Day

Obviously, we are all for—and about—National Trivia Day. So feel free to steal any of these essential bits of trivia and share them with a friend.

8. January 7: National Old Rock Day

Have you thanked a veteran rock today? Though no official creator has stepped forward, we’re guessing that it was either a geologist and paleontologist who came up with this holiday that honors fossils and rock formations that are as old as time.

9. January 7: National Thank God It’s Monday! Day

'Hello Monday' text on a display lightbox on blue and pink bright background
iStock.com/Katjabakurova

Apparently there are people who like Mondays? This offbeat holiday is all about the possibility that comes with a fresh start … we guess we can get behind that.

10. January 8: National Argyle Day

A pattern for every season—isn't it time you celebrated argyle?

11. January 9: National Static Electricity Day

Grab your balloons and sweaters! It’s time to build up your static charge and conduct some electrons. This is the perfect holiday to occur in the dead of winter, when the air is extra dry—the optimal conditions for storing up those negative charges that shock you at the most unexpected times.

12. January 14: National Clean Off Your Desk Day

Though some studies have concluded that a messy desk could be a sign that you’re a genius, National Clean Off Your Desk Day—which occurs on the second Monday in January—is a time to embrace the new year with a new attitude toward clutter. (If only for this one day.)

13. January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

Dog in a sequin fedora and sunglasses
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Your pet may not love the fact that there’s an entire day dedicated to making them look extra fancy, but your Instagram followers will thank you for it.

14. January 16: National Nothing Day

Clear your calendars! We have San Francisco Examiner columnist Harold Pullman Coffin to thank for this "un-event," which Americans have been celebrating since 1973 by, well, doing nothing.

15. January 18: National Thesaurus Day

British lexicographer Peter Mark Roget—who is most famous for publishing The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (aka “Roget’s Thesaurus”) in 1852—was born on January 18, 1779. As such, this is a day to honor, celebrate, extol, laud, praise, revere, salute, etc. his contributions.

16. January 20: Penguin Awareness Day

Not to be confused with World Penguin Day (which happens on April 25), Penguin Awareness Day encourages you to cultivate even more knowledge of the Spheniscidae family. (Here are 20 fascinating facts to get you started.)

17. January 21: National Hugging Day

Two girlfriends embrace each other
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In 1986, Reverend Kevin Zaborney—a pastor from Clio, Michigan—founded Hugging Day as a small event in his hometown. Today, it’s celebrated around the world. “People do need positive human interaction," Zaborney told The Christian Post of the impetus for creating the holiday. "Hugging is a safe way to do so." (Though he likes to make it clear that you should always ask first!)

18. January 22: Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day

If your feline isn't forthcoming with his or her inquiries, take the opportunity to ponder the following: “What would a cat have questions about?”

19. January 23: National Handwriting Day

Get out the old pen and paper and weep at how bad your penmanship has become … or you know, write someone a nice letter. (Cursive is making a comeback, after all.)

20. January 24: Global Belly Laugh Day

This holiday is more of a challenge than a commemoration.

21. January 24: National Compliment Day

Person holding a rock that says 'You are amazing!'
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National Compliment Day? You’ve got this. You’re fabulous. And you look amazing. Keep up the great work!

22. January 24: National Beer Can Appreciation Day

January 24, 1935 was a momentous day for suds lovers: It’s the day the first canned beer was sold in America. Since then the beer can has become a barbecue staple, a collector’s item, and a maligned receptacle for some beer snobs (though craft beer connoisseurs have brought cans back in a major way). So today, pause before chugging, shotgunning, or crushing and take a moment to reflect on what your beer can means to you.

23. January 25: National Opposite Day

January 25 is definitely not National Opposite Day. (See what we did there?)

24. January 27: Thomas Crapper Day

Plumber repairing a toilet
iStock.com/abbesses

Often incorrectly credited with inventing the toilet, Thomas Crapper was a plumber and businessman who did, in fact, champion the modern wash closet and also invented the ballcock—that floating ball in the body of your toilet. His apropos surname was just a coincidence: The word crap already existed in the English language at the time of his birth.

25. January 28: Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Celebrated on the last Monday of January, Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day is a day to give thanks for the many hours of joy this beloved packing product has brought us all. And to share all that you know about it with others (like how it was originally meant to be wallpaper, and could potentially offer real-life health benefits). And if you don’t know much, here are 25 facts for you.

10 Grievance-Worthy Facts About Festivus

The Master Shake Signal, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The Master Shake Signal, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Tired of having holiday sales shoved down your throat and Christmas carols stuck in your head? Maybe it's time you considered celebrating Festivus instead. What started out as a single-episode joke on Seinfeld back in 1997 has morphed into a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Here's everything you need to know about the holiday "for the rest of us."

1. IT TAKES PLACE ON DECEMBER 23.

A calendar shows December 23
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First, some Festivus basics: the holiday (or anti-holiday) is celebrated each year on December 23. As it's essentially a day to rail against the consumerism that infiltrates the holiday season, it’s much more bare-bones than the name might suggest. The traditional symbol, at least as Seinfeld told it, is an aluminum pole. Among the annual traditions are the "Airing of Grievances," in which you detail the many ways that people annoy you, and the "Feats of Strength," which really just amounts to a living room wrestling match. Easily explainable events that happen to occur on this day are usually known as "Festivus miracles."

2. IT ORIGINATED MUCH EARLIER THAN SEINFELD.

The cast of Seinfeld
Getty Images

On December 18, 1997, toward the end of Seinfeld’s triumphant run on NBC, a holiday-themed episode called “The Strike” aired. In it, viewers learned about Festivus, a holiday invented by the Costanzas, in which each member of the family tells the others all the ways they have disappointed. But Dan O’Keefe, who co-wrote the episode, didn't just pull the idea from his imagination; he based it on a tradition that his father, a former editor at Reader's Digest, created in the mid-1960s.

"It was entirely more peculiar than on the show," O’Keefe told The New York Times in 2004. Though there was no aluminum pole, O’Keefe confirmed that the “airing of grievances” was very real (they said them into a tape recorder) and that he and his two brothers would ritually wrestle. "Most of the Festivi had a theme," he said. "One was, 'Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?' Another was, 'Too easily made glad?'"

While December 23rd has become its official date, that was not the case in the O'Keefe household. "It did not have a set date," O'Keefe told Mother Jones in 2013. "We never knew when it was going to happen until we got off the school bus and there were weird decorations around our house and weird French '60s music playing."

3. YOU CAN PURCHASE A FESTIVUS POLE.

A photo of aluminum poles
iStock.com/SafakOguz

Don’t have an ugly aluminum pole just lying around? You can buy one! In fact, for less than $13 you can purchase an entire mini-Festivus celebration kit from Running Press. In addition to a 9-inch pole that plays sound bytes of Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller), it includes two magnets and five donation cards for the Human Fund (George's made-up charity).

4. THERE IS A SOCIOLOGICAL BACKGROUND TO THE WHOLE THING.

A still from 'Seinfeld'
Getty Images

O’Keefe’s father, Dan Sr., explained to The New York Times that he created Festivus in 1966 (before any of his kids were born) to commemorate the anniversary of his first date with his wife, Deborah. In the 1970s, Festivus began to take on new meaning and rituals as the elder O’Keefe was doing research for his 1983 book Stolen Lightning, a sociological exploration of how astrology, cults, and the paranormal act as a kind of defense against societal pressures. "In the background was [Émile] Durkheim's Elementary Forms of Religious Life, saying that religion is the unconscious projection of the group," O'Keefe explained. "And then the American philosopher Josiah Royce: religion is the worship of the beloved community." (See? Festivus is not just about beating the crap out of your brother.)

5. IN 2013, FLORIDA OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED FESTIVUS.

 Chaz Stevens from Deerfield Beach, Florida assembles his Festivus pole out of beer cans in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol as the media looks on December 11, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

In 2013, Chaz Stevens, a resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, petitioned the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee to let him erect a Festivus pole to sit alongside the building’s Christmas tree and nativity scene. Amazingly, they agreed.

“As long as it meets [the] guidelines and there is space available in the capitol, DMS is happy to allow all cultures, and denominations, and committees, and groups to put up their holiday displays,” Ben Wolf, a spokesperson for Florida’s Department of Management Services (DMS)—the department responsible for the approval—told the News Service of Florida at the time.

Rather than stick up a standard aluminum pole, Stevens chose to build his ode to Festivus out of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. “I still chuckle,” he said. “I literally can’t believe there will be a pile of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in the state rotunda.”

6. THERE HAS BEEN SOME OUTRAGE OVER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF FESTIVUS.

Gretchen Carlson
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for TIME

The same year that Stevens built his PBR pole, the Wisconsin Capitol added a Festivus display of its own. Not everyone was amused. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson aired her own grievance with Stevens's display at the time, saying, “I am so outraged by this. Why do I have to drive around with my kids to look for nativity scenes and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, kids, look. There’s Baby Jesus behind the Festivus pole made out of beer cans!'"

For his part, O'Keefe told Mother Jones that, “Both displays have equal right to be there. But, you know, the Fox News outrage machine kicked into high gear, and I’m sure there were some hair-sprayed talking heads bobbing up and down, being outraged about it.”

7. SENATOR RAND PAUL IS A FESTIVUS DEVOTEE.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For the past few years, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has pledged his allegiance to Festivus by regularly airing his grievances to his 1.86 million Twitter followers. Earlier this month, he made it clear that he was already preparing this year's list of gripes.

But Paul is far from the only one who regularly uses the social media tool as a way to grumble about the world. Log on to Twitter, search the #AiringOfGrievances hashtag, and you’ll find all sorts of complaints being lodged with the general public.

8. DAN O'KEEFE WAS AGAINST WRITING FESTIVUS INTO SEINFELD.

'Seinfeld' writer Dan O'Keefe
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Though it sprung from his own childhood, O'Keefe didn't pitch the Seinfeld team on the idea of a Festivus-themed episode. In fact, he wasn't sold that it would resonate with viewers. O'Keefe mentioned his family tradition in passing one day to another writer on the show, and the idea snowballed from there. “I didn't pitch it," O'Keefe told Mother Jones. "I fought against it. I thought it would be embarrassing and drag the show down, but…Jerry liked it."

9. A TRUE FESTIVUS FEAST CONSISTS OF MEAT. LOTS AND LOTS OF MEAT.

Meatloaf right out of the oven
iStock.com/islander

Because of the dearth of HD screens back in 1997, when the Festivus episode of Seinfeld first ran, viewers had trouble making out what the traditional meal served that night was. With improved technology and repeated viewings, the majority of fans agree that it is meatloaf served on a bed of lettuce. In the O'Keefe household, the meal was usually a main course of meat—which might include turkey, ham, beef stew, or lamb chops—and pecan pie for dessert. 

10. THERE'S AN OFFICIAL BOOK TO HELP YOU CELEBRATE FESTIVUS IN THE MOST AUTHENTIC WAY POSSIBLE.

Photo of a clock in a shopping bag
iStock.com/Talaj

Tired of trying to separate Festivus fact from fiction? Dan O'Keefe can help. In 2005 he wrote a book, The Real Festivus: The True Story Behind America's Favorite Made-Up Holiday, in which he shares personal anecdotes from growing up Festivus so that fans of the fake holiday can find out how it really all went down. We already mentioned that there was no aluminum pole (that idea came out of the Seinfeld writers room). But they did have a traditional decoration: "The central symbol of this holiday was not a pole," according to O'Keefe. "It was a clock and a bag. Sometimes a clock in a bag. But not always."

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