“Happy Arbor Day!" That emailed greeting appeared on the screen of my MacBook Air this morning, sent by a friend. Her cheerful note got me thinking about the origin of this day. So I googled and discovered the first Arbor Day was held in 1594 in the village of Mondonedo, Spain, organized by its mayor.
Further googling revealed that the first American Arbor Day was celebrated April 10, 1872, when more than one million trees were planted throughout the state of Nebraska. Today we celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April and the customary observance is to plant a tree.
But were you aware that today, Arbor Day, April 27, 2018 is also National Hairball Awareness Day? And National Devil Dog Day? And National Prime Ribs Day? Who sez? How come? Where did these ersatz holidays come from?
Apparently, back in the mid-1980s, our hard-working Congress went on a holiday spree, passing bill after bill to commemorate every day of the year. During that time, one in every three laws enacted spotlighted something a constituent or lobbyist considered special, like National High Five Day and National Play Monopoly Day and National Take a Starving Artist Out to Lunch Day.
Today, there are nearly 1,500 “national” days, weeks and months, according to the National Day Calendar, “the authoritative source for unique National Days.” We’re talking everything from National Clean Up Your Room Day to National Coquille Saint Jacques Day.
I was personally curious about the Val Marier National Holiday, as my kids call my May 11 birthday. I share honors with National Twilight Zone Day and the National Eat What You Want Day. Other days in May honor Raspberry Popovers (May 3), Nutty Fudge (May 12), No Dirty Dishes (May 18) and Red Noses (May 24), and I am not making ANY of this up.
I decided to check out other national holidays. Fathers Day, June 17, is also National Cherry Tart and Apple Strudel day. July 4, our revered Independence Day, additionally honors Barbecued Spare Ribs and Caesar Salads. Labor Day, September 3, shares éclat with Welsh Rarebit Day and U.S. Bowling League Day.
Even our biggies — Thanksgiving and Christmas — don’t go it alone. Appropriately, I believe, Thanksgiving is also National Cranberry Relish Day. (The day after is National Flossing Day and National Buy Nothing Day. On Black Friday, no less!)
The lead in to Christmas is fitting. December 23 is National Pfeffernusse Day. December 24 is National Eggnog Day. And Christmas divvies up the spoils with National No “L” Day.
Curious? The best source is a 752-page book titled CHASE’S CALENDAR OF EVENTS. Apparently, and originally, the book started as a way for news organizations to keep track of actual holidays. At some point, however, CHASE’S began accepting submissions from advocacy groups wanting to raise awareness about certain issues, and also from people like you and me who just make them up for a giggle.
Because, let’s be honest: is there anything more fun than National Step in the Puddles and Splash Your Friends Day? Sorry. Gotta wait until next January 11. Meanwhile, enjoy Arbor Day.