Thursday, May 29, 2014

Literary Holidays

In this week's review book, Boomsday, the titular holiday is the day the Baby Boomers start retiring. But every time I see the title, I keep misreading it as Bloomsday, because that's a thing, too. It's a holiday based on a book, and there are actually several of those, because readers like to celebrate books. Here are a few of my favorite holidays that wouldn't exist if it weren't for certain books.

This one is actually coming up very soon: June 16th of every year. It celebrates the life and work of James Joyce during the day Ulysses takes place. There are lots of annual events around the world that celebrate Bloomsday.

Towel Day
Hopefully you didn't miss this one... May 25 is Towel Day, celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams. To explain, I give you the relevant passage from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value: you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally "lost." What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Hobbit Day
Held on September 22 annually (whichever calendar week contains this day is officially Tolkien Week and has been since 1978) this day celebrates Tolkien's most beloved characters: the hobbits. This day was chosen because it's Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday!

Burns Supper
A Burns Supper is a very popular event in the UK (particularly in Scotland) held on January 25 and featuring a certain menu of Scottish favorites, including haggis. The whole affair celebrates Scottish poet Robert Burns, and his poems are read throughout the event. Sometimes you wrap up the evening with dancing.

There are tons of other literary holidays, and holidays about books and other forms of writing. What's your favorite, and how do you celebrate it?

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