Day 548: A Toast To Summer’s Boogie – July Celebrations You’ve Never Heard Of

originally published July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day to my fellow countrymen and countrywomen, and for those outside our borders, happy first day of the most awesome month of the year. Everyone knows that July features two fireworky and fun holidays near its start, but surely there’s more to celebrate. I mean, apart from all the sun and the warmth and the hammock-worthy days of quiet intimacy with the coldest, most refreshing beer from the cradle of your fridge.

Well of course there’s more to celebrate. We can grab our calendars and red-tipped Sharpies and go crazy throughout July, swooshing clumsy circles around dates that come to us all innocuous and unassuming on our 16-month ALF 1985 calendar that we’re using for this year because dammit, we want double the return on that investment, and the calendar’s the same as a 2013 calendar anyway.

So stock up on your celebration supplies, set up a Facebook party event, and get ready for a July full of adventure. And by ‘adventure’ I mean heavy drinking while using the following observances as an excuse to get blitzed to the point of passing out in your neighbor’s compost heap.

Like National Hot Dog Day! It should come as no surprise to anyone following global obesity statistics that this is an American institution. On July 23, hot dog makers all over the country will be trying their damnedest to shove as many wieners down as many throats as possible. Alfred, New York, has been celebrating Hot Dog Day in April since 1972, but since the mighty frank is a veritable symbol of summer barbecuing, it makes sense for the rest of us to honor it in July.

Various festivities around the country will feature parades, root beer chugging contests, wiener dog races and face painting. Seriously… face painting? Doesn’t every summer public celebration feature face painting? Enough already with the melty, sweaty 5-year-old Spider Men.

West Virginians should flock to their regional Hot Dog Festival on the last Saturday of the month, as they’ll also find an owner-dog lookalike contest as well as a harmonica championship. Why would anyone miss it?

If you live in Finland – and since much of my audience is comprised of Finnish high school guidance counselors – then you’re already plotting your sleeping schedule for July 27, also known as National Sleepy Head Day. On this day, the last person to awaken in the house is either woken up by having water thrown on them or else by tossing them into the sea. Those Finnish folks know how to party.

This is a call-back to the story of the Saints of Ephesus, who slept in a cave for 200 years to avoid persecution by Roman Emperor Decius. For a public celebration, a celebrity – sometimes a local mayor, sometimes a CEO or movie star – gets ceremoniously tossed into the port of Naantali. I’m not 100% certain, but I think the above photo is a shot of actor Brian Dennehy getting tossed into the drink.

If you’re looking to rebel against Canada for whatever reason – I don’t know, maybe you hate universal health care and hockey – or perhaps you’re just looking for a holiday with a  ridiculously long name, why not celebrate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, or HKSARED for short?

Ever since July 1, 1997, when Hong Kong was handed over from the British Empire to the People’s Republic of China, residents have celebrated HKSARED. Sure, they put on a sweet fireworks show up against one of the most spectacular urban skylines in the world, but the real purpose of this day is for the people to complain. Numerous political rallies are held on HKSARED, as people call for universal suffrage, free speech, and all the other things that were lost when China took control.

The Chinese government won’t likely listen of course, but hey – at least the people get fireworks!

Remember when everyone – okay, the more geekly-inclined among everyone – celebrated Pi Day on March 14th? Well, guess what – the real math geeks out there will be celebrating Pi Approximation Day this month. Sure, March 14 is 3/14, and we all know the opening lyrics to pi are 3.14. But why not get more tactical than that?

Any math-lover will tell you that a good approximation of Pi can be found when 22 is divided by 7. Therefore 22/7, or July 22, is yet another day when you can show off your knowledge of how to calculate the circumference of a circle.

Oh, and a special note to any kids reading this article – I have been in the so-called ‘real world’ for more than two decades now, and I have yet to use Pi in any context that didn’t involve writing about it (just now) or watching a Darren Aranofsky film. I’m just saying, I spent a lot of time dealing with that number in math class, and it has yet to butter my bagel, if you know what I mean.

That’s right, there’s a Marmot Day… I feel I need to delve a little into the history here. Back in the wild 1990’s, a Republican Alaskan Senator named Linda Menard felt that Alaska was losing its folksy charm (probably because Northern Exposure had recently been cancelled), and that it might soon become nothing more than a “suburb of Houston.” Menard was not known for her intricate knowledge of geography.

Anyway, she proposed the establishment of Marmot Day, a day to celebrate true Alaskan culture. And also marmots. The bill died, but Linda Menard would not be deterred. She brought the idea up once more in 2009, and this time it flew into law, with a little help from Sarah Palin’s stamp of approval. Now while the rest of us suckers are celebrating Groundhog Day, Alaskans are honoring the marmot, something that truly distinguishes them from the rest of American culture.

Oh, except for the town of Owosso, Michigan. They’ve been celebrating Marmot Day on July 25th since 2002. I don’t know if this gives local Owossoans a day off, or if they just enjoy a special lunch and tell marmot jokes, but one thing is certain – they’ve been celebrating it longer than Alaskans.

That’s okay – there are plenty of celebrations we can all enjoy this month, including the very celebration that it’s July, the month of stretching out, suntanning, and savoring the juiciest meat of summer.

What more does one need? Happy July 1st or 4th to everyone who celebrates them.

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