Day 732: Whips & Chains & Donkeys & Hugs – It Must Be January

originally published January 1, 2014

It’s a new year! And in most parts of the world that also means it’s a new month – the twelfth entry in my Monthly Observances series. After today’s article completes the series you can now sprinkle your entire calendar with heaps of celebrations you’d never previously imagined. Raise a glass to National Cleavage Day in April! Down a tube of chemically processed hog anus on Hot Dog Day in July! Count things and show your friends some bar graphs on World Statistics Day in October! With so many things to celebrate, it’s a shame we have but twelve months in which to contain them.

And January is no exception. Most of us are enjoying what I personally call ‘International Hangover Day’ today – a day off from work in which we can soothe our collective headache whilst watching a parade of flowers and too-loud bagpipers. My American friends can enjoy a long weekend in honor of Martin Luther King later this month, but in Canada we get nothing else. January is cold, unpleasant, and devoid of any special days off aside from this one.

Which is why I’m thrilled to have found some new occasions to observe.

Keep an eye out for anyone wearing purple on January 17. The third Friday of the year is International Fetish Day, and wearing purple shows your support for those who like a little bit of kinky spice in their sexual paella, and those who oppose banning extreme pornography from our internet airwaves. The storied tradition of this event dates way, way back to 2008.

Ronnie Campbell, a Member of Parliament for Blyth Valley in England, got caught up in the hoopla surrounding this event, proclaimed that he would be wearing purple in its honor. After an article in the Sunday Sun prompted a few questions from his followers, Mr. Campbell claimed that he had misunderstood the occasion’s intent. He thought a fetish was “a worry, like worrying about backing the right horse.” He asserted that he had no idea it was a sex thing.

Uh-huh. “Backing the right horse.” More like backing into the right horse, you kinky bastard. Am I right? High-five? Anyone?

Copyright lawyers can toss these faces into the trash heap today, as the world celebrates Public Domain Day. In most European countries, copyright expires seventy years after an artist dies, shifting the bulk of their work into the public domain. These folks died in 1943, meaning the clock just ran out on their heirs’ rights to reap dollars off their work.

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit money-well has dried up. Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Russian-born composer whose masterful (and downright freakin’ manic) compositions rocked the foundation of modern classical music might now hear his stuff shilling Juicy Fruit gum in an elevator-screen commercial. Want to use “Honeysuckle Rose” in your next presentation to the corporate board? Fats Waller won’t mind; his music belongs to you now.

In Canada we are even more gracious, using a ‘life plus 50 years system’, so our public domain will now include those who passed on in 1963. This list includes Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and Sylvia Plath.

On January 16, perhaps as you’re ironing your Fetish Day purple shirt, you should also make an effort to do absolutely nothing. National Nothing Day was dreamt up by Californian columnist Harold Pullman Coffin, and its intent is to counteract all the rest of the crap in this column by insisting that Americans sit around without celebrating a damn thing. After the onslaught of holidays over the previous two months, this one makes sense.

Except that January 16 falls on a Monday every so often, and that plunks Martin Luther King Jr. Day right on top of National Nothing Day. When that happens, you can sort out the contradiction on your own.

Gotta love those wacky Christians. Sometimes the holidays that get the least press are the most interesting. The Feast of the Ass commemorates the time when Joseph, Mary and lil’ baby Jesus had to get the hell out of Dodge (or, in this case, Jerusalem) for fear that King Herod was going to slay the kid. The donkey plays a big part in this story, and as such he gets his own day.

It’s customary during this affair for a female to lead a child on a donkey into the church, the humans popping into a pew while the donkey gets to stand up front beside the altar. The congregation then “hee-haws” their responses to the priest. I am so glad that I am not making this up. Christians need to make this as big a deal as Christmas – celebrate the hilarity in your faith!

Also, another day off on January 14 would be really groovy, thanks.

My trusted companion, Wikipedia, turns 13 on January 15, which will inspire a number of gatherings upon Wikipedia devotees and editors around the world. No doubt they’ll all be discussing the ramifications of being an inspiration to such a dynamic and famous writing project such as this.

Feeling a little down? Well, it might not be the fact that you’re locked into the middle of what seems like an eternal winter – though if you live near me, that’s probably the most likely suspect. A little piece of pseudo-science published by Sky Travel has used a complicated formula, incorporating weather, debt, time since Christmas, the failure of New Year’s resolutions and motivation to conclude that the Monday in the last full week of January (that’d be the 27th this year) to be the most depressing day of the year.

Blue Monday, they call it. And of course Sky Travel’s solution is for you to jet somewhere on that day, though given that ‘debt’ is one of the factors in their little equation, doing so may not be possible for all of us. They also claim that some point in late June is the yin to this yang, the happiest day of the year. But that’s the future – for now we’re stuck with Blue Monday.

While it may be inconveniently located six days prior to Blue Monday, National Hug Day is sure to squeeze away your winter blahs. Rev. Kevin Zaborney launched this event in 1986 in Clio, Michigan, aiming to encourage people to hug their family and friends. You could also stand on the street and embrace passing strangers, but that’s only recommended if you are also well-trained in some sort of self-defense combat.

Look, American couples spend only a third of the time touching one another compared with French couples, according to a study by the University of Miami. Hugging is good for the soul, it’s good for stress, and it’s good for shooing away the dreary veil of January. It’s also a good way to say, “Hey, about those things I inserted into you last week on International Fetish Day… we’re still cool, right?”

Happy January everyone.

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