Our calendars these days are getting very crowded. Every possible date has been claimed by some organisation or other to try to gain publicity or, worse, sell us something. Some claim whole weeks, or months, or occasionally entire years. It seems that there’s now an ever-growing industry which is devoted to nothing more than linking a specific cause or activity with a specific date on our arbitrary assignation days on our annual journey around the sun to a specific combination of words and/or numbers.
Personally, I blame Google. I’m sure that it wasn’t until they started producing their daily pictograph to enliven their home page that we started to get this explosion of dedicated days. Or maybe they’ve always been there, and it wasn’t until Google started publicising them that they edged their way far enough into my consciousness to start annoying me.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way, because there’s an increasing number of weird and wonderful celebrations tied to specific dates (some more spuriously than others) that kick against the corporate nature of the western world (as there is little potential for profit in them), and that at the same time amuse. And one of these days is coming up this week (at least if you follow the standard US designation for writing down dates, rather than the proper one used by everyone else).
You see, this coming Saturday is Pi Day (and no that’s not a typo, it’s really meant to be Pi and not Pie), a day dedicated to the promotion of all things mathematical. Why this Saturday? Well, it’s the 14th day of the third month, and in the US that is written as 3.14, which, as I’m sure you all will be aware – some more dimly than others depending on how long ago it was since you left school, is the first three digits of the mathematical constant known as Pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter). This year’s celebration of Pi day is particularly special as, if you glance at your watch at exactly the right time, it will read 3/14/15 9:26:54 (or 3.141592654, which is Pi to nine decimal places!). If you’re looking out for it, whatever you do, don’t blink because it’ll be another century before that particular opportunity rolls around again.
Of course, as I said before, Pi day only works if you write down days in the standard US format and not the correct one, as we do here in the UK (where the day comes before the month). So elsewhere in the world, we celebrate Pi Approximation Day on the 22nd of July, or 22/7. Why this day? It’s the closest approximation you can get to Pi expressed as a fraction.
Now, mathematics isn’t for everyone, but what about waiting a few months and marking the End of the World Day. This is celebrated on the 8th of May, and given that the world has not come to an end, you might wonder why it’s celebrated on that day. Well, it comes from one of my favourite books, written by one of my literary heroes: The Day of the Triffids. In an off-handed way, the narrator of The Day of the Triffids, Bill Masen, mentions that this was the date the world came to an end, and so that’s the one which is celebrated.
Shortly after the End of the World day, there’s, on the 25th of May, Towel Day. What, you may well ask, is so interesting about a day dedicated to laundry? Well, it has little to do with towels themselves, but rather what they represent in one particular world, that of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, as created by Douglas Adams. One of the most important things when hitchhiking around the galaxy is to always know where your towel is, and so fans of Douglas Adams mark his place in the world, and his sad passing much too young in 2001, by celebrating Towel Day by carrying a towel with them where ever they go on that particular day.
After Towel Day, there’s a long wait for the next interesting day (at least in my opinion!). That comes on the 19th of September, which is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. ITLAPD started off as an in-joke between two friends that has grown to become a parody of the whole day-naming industry. It has also become embraced by others who like to fight for rationality in life and education, as it has become an official holiday for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
There you we have it. Five days of celebration you have probably never heard of before, but all of which represent something worth celebrating – unlike International Newspaper Carriers Day (I’m not making this up, honest), which is part of National Newspaper Week (really, I promise I’m not making this up), which was officially designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 (I’ll repeat once, more, I’m not making this up – it’s nice to know that at the height of the cold war, the supposed leader of the free world was thinking about all things associated with newspaper delivery!). So when Saturday finally rolls around, remember to wish your nearest and dearest happy Pi Day, and then watch their eyes glaze over as you explain what on Earth you’re talking about.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.