Other than Halloween, which is, of course, my favorite holiday of the year, hands down, there are several smaller holidays (or perhaps “holidays”) that I enjoy. There are of course, Groundhog Day (Feb 2) and International Women’s Day (Mar 8), which most people know about.
March 25 marks the day that the One Ring was destroyed and the first day of the Gondorian calendar in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (never doubt that your pastor is a nerd, Peoples). I have hosted many New Year’s parties in March since I was a teenager and created all sorts of made-up traditions with my friends.
June 9 is Johnny Depp’s birthday, which always fell just after school let out for the summer and gave as good an excuse as any to watch movies and eat cake together. He’s not my favorite actor, and I’m sure he’d be quite bewildered to know that a group of women who grew up in California still text each other “happy Johnny Depp’s birthday!” to each other every year, but it’s still a date that I remember.
I have absolutely no idea why August 8 is International Cat Day, nor do I understand why international cats need a holiday, but several years ago on that day, I was part of a group effort to catch an orange cat named Picasso who had escaped his cat-sitter and gotten lost in a university parking lot. “It’s an International Cat Day miracle!!!” we declared, when the sneaky feline was finally caught.
Time feels like a strange concept these days, and it’s still hard to wrap my head around the idea that it has been six months since I last saw most of you in person. Days of the week are divided into “I’m not seeing humans today and may or may not brush my hair at all” and “creating live streams for God, the internet, and anybody still make me very nervous, so I’m applying a full face of makeup in the hope that it gives me any amount of confidence.” It feels especially hard to get to days of the calendar that we would otherwise spend in community–Easter, Pentecost, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day–and I think that’s why I’ve been feeling more than usually drawn to these smaller holidays, days that don’t have expectations that can’t be met and traditions that can’t be maintained, days that I can commemorate by myself in a way that’s new.
July 20 is the feast day of Saint Wilgefortis, which I was excited to share with you this year, as bizarre and surreal as her story may be.
Fun fact, I am writing this article on September 9, which happens to be “Buy Your Priest a Beer Day.” Who made this holiday up? Why? No one has bought me a beer, which I am entirely okay with, since I don’t like the taste of beer. The pastor of my home church says that no one bought him a beer, either, but we virtually clinked water glasses tonight during an adult ed class over zoom that I had joined.
Another holiday that fell this week has probably had more cultural significance than any of these other minor holidays: Star Trek Day, marking the anniversary of when the first episode of the original series was aired on September 8, 1966. I’m sure that most of you are aware that I’m a pretty intense Trekkie, despite sharing a name with the iconic princess–and general!–of its rival franchise, Star Wars. There are many great stories from throughout the decades of Star Trek and the eight additional television series (and two more to come) that have sprung out of the concept of the original series, which only ran for three seasons. I think that my favorite of these stories is that Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, was planning to leave the show, but decided to stay after a conversation with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that she and her character were too important to lose. He told her how important it was to be able to watch a popular TV show with his children in which a person of color was a respected bridge officer and team member, and not playing a servant. George Takei (who grew up in a Japanese internment camp) left acting for a career in politics after Star Trek because the only roles available for him were servants or racial stereotypes. We will truly be able to live long and prosper when we have created a society in which all people are equal and no one is weighed down by the heavy legacy of systemic racism.
What dates or minor holidays are significant to you?
(PS…mark your calendars for September 19. It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!)