06.12.09 7:03 AM ET
The Origins of 11 Bizarre Official Days
International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)
“It’s your classic success story,” says McGuire. “Every year I get people calling me up, doing the voice thing. It just keeps growing.” Founded by Mark Summers and John Bauer, two Oregon friends who’ve managed to score a book deal ( The Pirate Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer, out in hardcover this August from Penguin Books). Talk Like a Pirate Day is now celebrated on all seven continents.
Yell “Fudge” at the Cobras in North America Day (June 2) )
Since the early 1990s, this day has encouraged participants to chase away cobras with allusions to fudge, which is believed to make them gag. Each year, Chase’s Calendar receives numerous letters confirming the effectiveness of this technique (no cobras were sighted following a yelling episode). Having contributed over 90 “days”—among them International Hoodie-hoo Day (February 20), International Moment of Frustration Scream Day (October 12), Be Bald and Be Free Day (October 14), Stay at Home Because You’re Well Day (November 30), and Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Back Porch Day (August 8)— YFatCiNA Day founders Tom and Ruth Roy have attained a certain cache. “The Roys are really into what they do. They satisfy our requirements—they promote, they celebrate, they really know about their days,” says McGuire. Unsurprisingly, their gusto has led to, among other things, a collaboration with American Greetings’ Blue Mountain Cards.
Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (January 26) )
According to McGuire, this is the one to watch. Recently founded by a New Jersey radio station, it’s already gained the attention of the Field Air Corporation, the nation’s premiere bubble wrap manufacturer, which has patented the concept. Per the Chase Calendar (and, most likely, the Field Air Corporation), it’s a day to “learn the history and snapping etiquette and to gain a new appreciation of the country’s favorite shipping material.”
Sorry Charlie Day (April 1) )
An homage to Charlie, the StarKist tuna mascot, who has been trying to get into one of those cans since 1961. (“Sorry, Charlie.”) Founded by one Kathy Runyan-Svacina of Kansas City, Missouri, this is a day to “recognize anybody who has been rejected and lived through it.” Celebrants are encouraged to write in with their rejection stories to the “Sorry Charlie, No-Fan-Club-for-You Club.”
National Nothing Day (January 16) )
Created in 1973 by newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin in order to “provide Americans with one national day, when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” Ironically, while Nothing Day is has been observed since 1975, the day has consistently been home to other, concurrent events.
National Z Day (January 1)
Founded by one Tom Zager, who wanted “to give recognition on the first day of the year to all persons and places whose names begin with the letter Z and who are always listed or thought of last in any alphabetized list.”
Hobbit Day (September 22)
A submission by the Tolkien Society, to celebrate the birthdays of both Frodo and Bilbo—along with their creator, J.R.R. Tolkein (who was, for what it’s worth, actually born on January 3).
World Hello Day (November 21)
In its 37th year and observed in 180 countries, the goal of World Hello Day is “to advance peace through personal communication.” Specifically, by making sure to greet at least ten people throughout the day. According to the website, heads of state of 114 countries have taken the time to express specific approval of the occasion.
Eliza Doolittle Day (May 20)
McGuire asked for special mention of this one, founded by Helen Chase, wife of co-founder Bill Chase, “to honor Miss Doolittle for demonstrating the importance and the advantage of speaking one’s native language properly. Helen died the day after she signed her day’s renewal form—earlier she had said doing so made her so happy each year, she was determined to do it one last time.
National Whiners Day (December 26)
A day, interestingly, trademarked by the people behind National Hugging Day (January 21). On the docket is the announcement of the most famous whiners of the year (nominations are accepted through December 15). On top of it all, it’s also National Thank You Note Day.
Don’t Step on a Bee Day (July 10)
Another submission from Tom and Ruth Roy, this one reminding “kids and grown-ups that now is the time of year when going barefoot can mean getting stung by a bee.”
Sara Reistad-Long is a New York-based writer. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Esquire, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others.