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21 Weird Holidays And Their Origin Stories

If social media has taught us anything, it’s that the year is full of unofficial “holidays.” And while it’s always pleasant to realize it’s National Chocolate Day or Siblings Day, other special occasions ― like Fruitcake Toss Day or Yellow Pigs Day ― are less familiar and seem a little tougher to celebrate. 

We looked at sources like Chase’s Calendar of Events, the annual super-calendar of special observances and holidays, to identify some of the most unusual occasions. Many have gone global despite starting off as national, local or even family-specific traditions.

Without further ado: Here are 21 strange and mostly unofficial holidays, plus the stories of how they came to be. 

National Punctuation Day

Sept. 24

Newsletter specialist Jeff Rubin created National Punctuation Day in 2004 to promote and celebrate correctly placed semicolons, periods and ellipses. 

His wife, Norma, apparently got tired of hearing him complain about seeing punctuation being misused, so she encouraged him to do something about it

The website for National Punctuation Day features punctuation-themed products, photo contests, educational resources and even a recipe for the “Official Meat Loaf Of National Punctuation Day.”

Rubin supports the Oxford comma. 

V_Sot via Getty Images

Blame Someone Else Day

The first Friday the 13th of the year

This day is dedicated to not taking responsibility for any of your failings. 

Anne Moeller of Clio, Michigan, reportedly created the holiday in 1982. Legend has it that her alarm didn’t go off one Friday the 13th, which caused her show up late for appointments ― and make excuses ― throughout the day. 

Ice Cream For Breakfast Day

The first Saturday in February

Florence Rappaport of Rochester, New York, started Ice Cream For Breakfast Day in the 1960s. 

“It was cold and snowy and the kids were complaining that it was too cold to do anything. So I just said, ‘Let’s have ice cream for breakfast,’” the mother of six told The Washington Post.

Her two youngest children reminded her of the special day every year after that, and spread the family tradition when they went to college. Ice Cream For Breakfast Day became the subject of newspaper articles around the world, with celebrations taking place in Israel, New Zealand, England, Canada and South Africa.  

paulfourk via Getty Images

Kiss And Make Up Day

Aug. 25

Jacki Milgate pitched the idea of Kiss And Make Up Day to Chase’s Calendar of Events, and the holiday appeared in the publication’s 1992 edition. 

“I thought that it would be a neat idea to have a day dedicated to making amends ― for relationships that need mending,” Milgate told HuffPost. “I come from an Italian family where there was a lot of discord!”

She chose Aug. 25 because it’s her birthday. 

Milgate’s tradition caught on. “I’ve done radio interviews with DJs from as far away as Australia,” she said. “I’ve received letters from all over the country, and Kiss And Make Up Day was even featured in a Wrigley gum ad in USA Today.”

Talk Like A Pirate Day 

Sept. 19

Oregon pals John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers created Talk Like a Pirate Day on June 6, 1995, after, for reasons they don’t quite recall, they started using pirate-speak during a game of racquetball

Out of respect for the fact that June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day, they chose to designate Sept. 19 (the birthday of Summers’ ex-wife) as Talk Like a Pirate Day.

“For seven years we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day pretty much on our own, with our friend Brian Rhodes actually reminding us that the event was coming up,” Baur and Summers wrote on their holiday’s official website. 

In 2002, they reached out to humor columnist Dave Barry to share their tradition, and he wrote a piece about it. Talk Like a Pirate Day has since gained a cult following, with individuals and businesses taking part in the fun. 

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Squirrel Appreciation Day

Jan. 21

This squirrel-themed day was the brainchild of Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator from North Carolina who was affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Hargrove invented Squirrel Appreciation Day in 2001 to celebrate squirrels and educate people about the species. 

You can celebrate the occasion by putting out food for squirrels, reading about the animal or observing them in person. 

Hug Your Hound Day

The second Sunday in September

Dog trainer Ami Moore created Hug Your Hound Day (reportedly in the late 1990s) to strengthen the relationship between dogs and their owners.

“This day is dedicated to celebrating the bond between you and your dog. National Hug Your Hound Day is about truly observing your dog (from their point of view) in their environment and everyday life and for just one day to see the word as your dog sees it,” Moore told blogger Jen Reeder. “As you celebrate your beloved dog, remember that today is about keeping our dog’s healthy, happy and safe at home and in our hearts.” 

Winnie Au via Getty Images

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

Aug. 27

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day celebrates the life and work of Irish author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (1855-1897), who wrote under the pen name The Duchess. 

It’s not clear why Aug. 27 was chosen as a day to honor the writer, considering her birthday is April 27. Still, the holiday provides a great excuse to read her most famous book, Molly Bawn, which contains the iconic line “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Draw A Bird Day

April 8

According to lore, a 7-year-old British girl named Dorie Cooper was the inspiration for Draw A Bird Day. In 1943, her mom took her to the hospital to visit her uncle, who was distraught over losing his leg in the war. She asked her uncle to draw her a picture of a bird, so he drew a robin. 

She laughed at his bird drawing but said she would hang it in her room. Dorie’s “complete honesty and acceptance” lifted her uncle’s spirits, and the story cheered up other soldiers in the hospital. Soldiers held drawing contests whenever she visited, and over time the ward was covered in bird art. 

Dorie was hit by a car three years later and died. Her coffin was reportedly filled with bird pictures drawn by soldiers, nurses and doctors from her uncle’s ward. They honored her every year on her birthday, April 8, by drawing birds, and the tradition grew as a way to help soldiers find joy and forget the suffering of war. 

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Wear Something Gaudy Day

Oct. 17

This holiday originates from an episode of the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company,” in which the character Larry Dallas declared it to be “Wear Something Gaudy Day.” Because of that, Oct. 17 is a great day to dress in your loudest, flashiest, tackiest outfit. 

Yellow Pigs Day

July 17

Yellow Pigs Day supposedly dates back to the early 1960s, when Princeton University math students Michael Spivak and David C. Kelly were exploring the properties of the number 17. At some point, they got a little loopy and thought up the idea of a yellow pig with 17 toes, 17 eyelashes and 17 teeth. 

The association of the number 17 and a yellow pig lived on. Spivak reportedly makes subtle references to it in his writing, and Kelly gives an annual lecture on the number 17 as part of the Yellow Pigs Day celebration during the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics for high-ability high school students. He also has an extensive collection of yellow pigs. 

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Caps Lock Day

Oct. 22

Caps Lock Day relates to … yep, you guessed it, the caps lock key on a computer keyboard. Derek Arnold of Iowa created the holiday in 2000. 

“International Caps Lock Day is in fact a testament to the small mindedness of certain Western individuals: the majority of the world’s population writes in scripts which have no concept of letter casing,” he has said about the holiday, HuffPost previously reported. “Therefore it is advised to laugh at anyone who invokes this day as an excuse to dismiss local typographical conventions: they are simply making an ass out of themselves.”

Caps Lock Day was originally celebrated on Oct. 22, but Arnold later added a second day of observation: June 28, the day in 2009 that infomercial king Billy Mays died. Some people jokingly refer to the caps lock key as the “Billy Mays” key because of his famously loud voice. 

National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day

March 13

According to superstition, opening an umbrella indoors will cause bad luck to “rain down” on you. A gentleman in Maryland named Thomas Edward Knibb apparently thought this was a load of B.S. 

Knibb reportedly invented National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day in 2003 as a way to defy the superstition. He encourages people to open their umbrellas inside and realize that nothing bad will happen to them.

Giambra via Getty Images

Working Naked Day

The first Friday in February

It should go without saying, but you’re meant to celebrate Working Naked Day by working from home

Home office expert and author Lisa Kanarek created the holiday in 2011.

“Working Naked Day is about celebrating the freedom you have to work from home and enjoying a sweet arrangement that allows you to spend time with your family, set your own hours, and say goodbye to your boss and annoying co-workers,” she wrote on her website

Ampersand Day

Sept. 8

Typographer and graphic designer Chaz DeSimone founded Ampersand Day in 2015. He says on his website that he chose Sept. 8 because several of the characters in the word “September,” as well as the numeral 8, “can be cleverly disguised as ampersands, when the right fonts are used.”

DeSimone encourages people to celebrate by using lots of ampersands, substituting ”&” for “and” wherever possible, designing new styles of ampersands and replacing syllables and parts of friends names with ampersands ― like &roid, c&elabra, Gr&ma, and Alex&er.  

PhotosbyBetz via Getty Images

Be Kind To Lawyers Day

The second Tuesday in April

The first Be Kind To Lawyers Day took place in 2008. The unofficial holiday is the brainchild of Steve Hughes, “a mild-mannered non-lawyer from St. Louis, Missouri” who worked with lawyers on their presentation skills ― a job he enjoyed very much. 

“However, whenever Steve mentioned to friends, neighbors, and people who sat next to him on airplanes that he worked with lawyers he was met with crinkled up faces, snide remarks, and sarcastic sighs,” the website for the holiday explains. “They would say things like, ‘Lawyers? I bet that’s a treat.’ Or, ‘Lawyers? You poor thing.’ (Can’t you just feel the hate?) Suddenly he found himself playing defense counsel for an entire profession.”

Hughes eventually decided to create a special day to honor lawyers. He chose the second Tuesday in April because it falls between April Fool’s Day and Tax Day.   

Fruitcake Toss Day

Jan. 3

The exact history of this holiday is unconfirmed, but many people believe Fruitcake Toss Day originated in Manitou Springs, Colorado, as a way for people to get rid of unwanted fruitcake after Christmas. 

The town held an annual “fruitcake toss” beginning in 1996. The annual event used to take place on one of the first Saturdays in January, but the date has been pushed back in recent years and many calendars recognize Fruitcake Toss Day as Jan. 3

wideonet via Getty Images

National Nothing Day

Jan. 16

Given there seems to be an occasion to honor every single day of the year, Nothing Day comes as a relief. 

Newspaper columnist Harold Pullman Coffin proposed National Nothing Day in 1972 as an unofficial holiday to give people “a day where they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” 

Plan Your Epitaph Day

April 6 and Nov. 2

California entrepreneur Lance Hardie invented Plan Your Own Epitaph Day while working as a special events producer for KHSU radio in 1995. He submitted the event to Chase’s Calendar of Events, which printed it in the next edition. 

The occasion occurs on Nov. 2 (the Day of the Dead) and April 6, which is around the time of China’s Ching Ming Festival (an occasion to visit graves and burial grounds to pray to your ancestors). As the name suggests, Plan Your Epitaph Day encourages people to think about what will go on their tombstones after they die. 

Castort via Getty Images

No Brainer Day

Feb. 27

Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, who bills herself as “America’s premier eventologist,” reportedly created this holiday so people could give themselves a break from projects involving a great deal of thought or analysis.  

Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day

Dec. 8

Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day originates from the now-defunct Koala Wallop forums. The online community established the special day and set the ground rules in 2007. 

Participants must spend the entire day portraying a character ― costumes and all ― that can come from the past or the future, dystopian or utopian. People honoring the holiday can’t tell anyone they’re a time traveler. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/weird-holidays-and-their-origin-stories_us_5a5916f9e4b03c41896585fb

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‘Game Of Thrones’ Is All About This Character, According To Math

Who is the real star of “Game of Thrones?”

Set across the sprawling Seven Kingdoms and beyond, it can be tricky to pinpoint the books’ and subsequent hit TV show’s most important character.

But mathematicians from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, think they’ve figured it out. And the answer is…

Yes. Tyrion Lannister — portrayed in the HBO show by Peter Dinklage — is reportedly the glue binding the entire fantasy epic together.

Macalester College’s associate professor of mathematics Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate student Jie Shan applied “network science” to the third installment (A Storm of Swords) of author George R.R. Martin’s epic “A Song Of Ice and Fire” novel series.

“We opted for this volume because the main narrative has matured, with the characters scattered geographically and enmeshed in their own social circles,” they wrote in their paper, published on the Mathematical Association of America’s website last week.

They analyzed the interconnection between all the characters, and linked them together every time they appeared within 15 words of one another. This diagram is the end result:

Tyrion appears to be the principal character. Jon Snow, portrayed by Kit Harington in the TV show, is close behind.

Perhaps surprisingly, Sansa Stark (played by Sophie Turner) is also in the running. “Other players are aware of her value as a Stark heir and they repeatedly use her as a pawn in their plays for power. If she can develop her cunning, then she can capitalize on her network importance to dramatic effect,” the researchers wrote.

Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, was also deemed important — but not so much as the others, due to the way her character appears to be isolated.

“Game of Thrones” Season 6 premieres Sunday, April 24, on HBO.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/03/game-of-thrones-math-real-star_n_9603534.html

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Debunking One Of The Biggest Stereotypes About Women In The Gaming Community

Although women now make up almost half of all video game players, the gaming community remains, in some ways, hostile toward women.

For example, the GamerGate controversy, which began in 2014 and involved a harassment campaign against prominent female gamers, journalists and designers, reflected a longstanding undercurrent of misogyny and sexism in the community. In some cases, those who challenged the sexism found themselves threatened with rape or death.

Theres also the long-held stereotype that men are simply better gamers than women. Women gamers are often perceived as incompetent players who arent genuinely interested in the games but rather sign up to get attention. If a female gamer does play well, shes often derided as a hacker someone who cheats to gain an advantage because there is no way a girl can be that good.

In a recent study, we set out to examine whether men really make better gamers than women and, if so, what drove the gender performance gap. Specifically, we wanted to compare how quickly men and women leveled up in Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, which are online worlds where thousands of players develop characters, make friends, join groups, complete quests and slay dragons together.

If men are actually better gamers than women, they should advance to higher levels within the same amount of play time. But if they dont progress any faster, this finding would help refute one of the most pervasive stereotypes that continue to exist in the gaming community.

The Conversation

Getting to the next level

Our research used anonymous server data from over 10,000 men and women in two MMOs, EverQuest II in the United States and Chevaliers’ Romance III in China. We knew each players actual gender through their account registration information.

When players finish quests and kill monsters in MMOs, they earn experience points. When experience points reach a threshold, the player ascends to the next level, which unlocks new abilities, skills and access to new content. As in most video games, levels indicate a players progress.

Naturally, players spending a lot of time in the game are likely to reach high levels. That is why the speed of leveling up, rather than the level itself, measures performance in our study.


A still from EverQuest II, one of the two MMO games analyzed in the study. Phil… Just Phil/flickr, CC BY-ND

Before getting to our findings, we want to point out a couple of things we took into consideration. First, players who had reached the top level in the games were excluded in our analyses. Because top-level players couldnt advance any further, their rate of leveling up was essentially zero. We removed these players to avoid confounding our analyses, but this also meant that we were not able to measure gender differences between the most advanced players.

Second, our analysis recognized that the rate of leveling up slows down as players progress. For example, it would take a lot more time and effort for a level 60 player to level up than a level 30 player. Therefore, our analysis compared apples to apples by evaluating players’ performance only against others who were at the same level.

Contrary to the stereotype, we found that player gender itself does not cause performance differences. Instead, the perception of women as poor gamers is fueled by other factors. For example, we found that women spent less time playing overall than men and chose more assistive character classes, such as Priests, who fare better healing group members than fighting on their own. When we took such factors into account by statistically controlling them in the analyses, the gender performance gap disappeared; women advanced at least as fast as men did in both games.

We also realized that different players are interested in different aspects of MMOs, and a few of those differences may correlate with gender. Theres some empirical evidence that men tend to focus more on achievement in video games leveling up rapidly, gaining in-game status and competing against others while women are drawn to social interactions, whether its helping other players or forming long-term relationships.

This suggests that men should advance faster than women. However, we found the opposite: Women advanced at least as fast as men did. So taking into account different play motivations (which we were unable to do in this studys analysis) likely only strengthens our conclusions.

Beyond video games

The stereotype that women are inferior gamers is not only false, but could also make women more easily discouraged and less likely to play in the first place. Of course, this gender performance stereotype exists in a number of other contexts. In the software development community GitHub, for example, women are perceived as worse coders than men.

Our research has notable implications for this important social issue. Studies have shown that video games can be an important gateway to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. If stereotypes about girls and women are preventing them from playing, then it could potentially contribute to preexisting gender inequality and stereotyping in these fields.

One approach to dealing with this issue is to promote stereotype-free gaming experiences for women and girls through female-supportive gaming communities, such as the PMS Clan, one of the oldest and most renowned female-oriented gaming communities in the world. Scholars such as Gabriela Richard at Pennsylvania State University have found that members of these communities are more confident and perceive themselves as better gamers.

Game designers can also help. They have the ability to construct the games to make them less hostile and more welcoming to female players. For example, Riot Games established the Tribunal, a system that allows the player community to review reported bad behaviors from fellow players, and then vote on whether to punish the offender. Banned players also get a reform card with the details of the offense, as well as judgments from the Tribunal. So far, the Tribunal has significantly reduced online harassment.

While programs like Tribunal are a starting point in the larger battle to end gender stereotypes, our findings will hopefully allow female gamers to realize that, when it comes to inherent skill, theyre on a level playing field.

The ConversationCuihua Shen, Professor of Communication, University of California, Davis and Rabindra Ratan, Assistant Professor of Communication, Michigan State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/debunking-one-of-the-biggest-stereotypes-about-women-in-the-gaming-community/

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