Monday was Labor Day, a national day to recognize the social and economic efforts of American workers.
Started in the 1880s, the holiday serves as a tribute to those who have helped this nation become strong and prosper through their work, according to the Labor Department.
Ironically, a day dedicated to workers is traditionally observed by not working. Instead, barbecues and gatherings with family and friends are the order of the day.
Labor Day is just one of a few holidays celebrated across the nation. Most of us know about the big ones — Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day — but there are thousands of other national observances recognized on a daily basis.
Some of these obscure celebrations have gained a foothold among the American people, particularly with the help of social media.
Take Pi Day, for example. Celebrated every March 14, the day honors mathematics and how important math and science are to a child’s education. Even Congress got in on the act, designating the national observance in 2009.
Although the day is set aside to commemorate the Greek letter, which represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, most people use the observance as an excuse to eat pie. Any holiday that promotes the consumption of such deliciousness cannot be bad.
Another popular but equally nerdy holiday is Star Wars Day. Observed on May the Fourth, the unofficial holiday is a play on the phrase “May the Force be with you,” from the famed series of movies. It pays tribute to the franchise created by George Lucas and its many characters.
For those who cannot get enough of “Star Wars” on the fourth, there’s Revenge of the Fifth the following day. On this day, fans go to the “dark side,” celebrating the Sith lords and the series’ villains.
One of my favorite days is coming up Sept. 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Long before Johnny Depp set sail as captain of the Black Pearl, I had a fondness for those residents of the Caribbean and their crazy antics. The ride, which opened in 1967, was a must on every trip to I made to Disneyland.
My literary and movie selections and penchant for Jimmy Buffett music also has fed this infatuation with the eye-patched, ruffled-shirt lifestyle. Granted, only the glamorous but somewhat seedy aspect of the pirates’ life are for me. Swashbuckling sword fights are a plus, as is plundering gold and silver, as long the bloody reality of their horrendous deeds is glossed over. Think W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” rather than the “Captain Phillips” hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
Did you know that you can even set your Facebook language to English (Pirate)? Aye, matey, ’tis true. At ye olde home port, ye can see what scallywags are scrawlin’ on captain’s logs or portraits of me hearties or what they be fancying.
Most of these national observances, however, are unheard of. After all the big doings of Labor Day, it seemed a bit of a letdown to mark Tuesday as National Blueberry Popsicle Day.
I keep track of all these fun, unusual or forgotten holidays on the National Day Calendar, which sends me daily listings by email. It also keeps me apprised of new celebrations.
Earlier this week I received an alert that the second Tuesday in September is recognized as National Ants on a Log day to honor the iconic snack that features raisins atop peanut butter spread on a celery stick.
Why, you may ask. According to the registrar of the National Day Calendar, the designation is supposed to encourage children to eat a healthy snack so they can remain alert and focused as they return to school.
Thursday has one observance I can really get behind. It’s National Newspaper Carriers Day.
But if I don’t mark the day until Friday, don’t worry. I’m just a day early for National Be Late for Something Day.