Origins of Unconventional Holidays

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Online Editor Austin Schumann explores the history of some holidays not everyone thinks of

 

By: AUSTIN SCHUMANN
Online Editor

 

April Fools Day – April 1

The origins of this holiday are unclear, going as far back as 1702. The population, then, wondered what the basis of this holiday was.

Throughout history people would treat the April 1st, or days close to it, as a day to be jovial and make jokes.

The prevailing theory of the meaning behind this holiday is that it marked the changing of the seasons from winter to spring.

This is generally what would give people higher spirits, implying that there was no official start to April Fools Day. But that it was something that people naturally adopted over time.

 

Pi day – March 14

A day celebrated by math teachers, March 14, or 3-14, is the numerical representation of the first three digits of the number Pi (3.14).

This day is celebrated by the mass consumption of pie, the food.

This year’s Pi day was special because the last two digits of the year, one and five, are the next two digits of the number Pi (3.1415).

This phenomenon will not happen for another hundred years, on March 14, 2115.

 

Flag Day – June 14

Not to be confused with the Fourth of July, which is America’s birthday, Flag Day is the celebration of the flags birthday.

In 1885, school teacher BJ Cigrand arranged for his pupils to observe June 14, the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes, as ‘Flag Birthday.’

From there magazines and newspapers across the country contained articles with Cigrand advocating this day of observance.

After decades of celebration on a smaller scale, in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson declared Flag Day an official holiday and President Harry Truman made it a nationally recognized federal holiday.

 

Star Wars – May 4

“May the Fourth be with you” is a common phrase uttered on this day. It is a play on words of the famous quote from the Star Wars movies, “May the force be with you.”

This holiday was not created by the officials of Lucasfilm, but once it started to spread across the internet, it was quickly adopted by the film company and celebrated by all those that loved the movies.

In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female Prime Minister, her political team made a newspaper ad using the phrase.

Star Wars has a long history with the month of May. All six live-action movies debuted in May. And George Lucas’s birthday is May 14. Many businesses hold sales on this day for Star Wars fans.

World Penguin Day – April 25

In conjunction with Penguin Awareness Day on Jan. 20, World Penguin Day celebrates the tuxedoed, flightless birds that live in Antarctica and zoos around the country. April 25 is the day that penguins begin their annual northward migration.

These two holidays are commonly used by organizations such as Greenpeace to promote awareness for climate change and how it affects the penguins.

People celebrate this day by dressing up in tuxedos or in all black and white. They carry around penguin plush toys, donate to penguin charities or any number of other penguin related activities.

 

Guy Fawkes Day – November 5

Anyone who has watched the movie “V for Vendetta,” no doubt remembers the line, “Remember, remember, the 5th of November.”

The origins for this holiday come from a plot to destroy the English parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder on their opening day, November 5th, 1605.

At the time King James I was on the throne and was leading England in a prosecution against the Catholics. Guy Fawkes, along with Robert Catesby and a handful of other Catholic conspirators, devised a plan to assassinate the king, his son and the house of lords, while kidnapping his daughter and installing her as a puppet queen.

Fawkes was discovered early in the morning of Nov. 5 with barrels of gunpowder and matches. He was quickly arrested.

At the time this day was celebrated as Bonfire Day. The population of London celebrated the fact that the assassination attempt failed. Though over time, history looked at Fawkes as less of a traitor and more of an activist which turned the idea of the holiday around.

Fawkes is the poster boy for movements like the online hacking group Anonymous, in which all members of the group wear Guy Fawkes masks whenever making appearances.

 

Arbor Day – Various

Arbor day is a day to make the world a greener place. The first Arbor day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 and was the idea of Nebraskan journalist and former politician, Julius Morton.

Morton came up with the idea after studying agriculture to plant as many trees as he could, creating entire orchards and encouraging neighbors to do the same.

Morton was able to make it an official holiday when he joined the state board of agriculture.

The next official Arbor day took place 10 years later and was celebrated on April 22nd, Morton’s birthday.

Now, Arbor day is celebrated all around the world with the uniqueness that different countries (and even different states) celebrate it at different times, according to the local climate and when their state or national trees are in bloom.

Missouri’s Arbor day falls on the first friday in April.

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