Did you know that March 10 is International Bagpipe Day? If you’ve been looking for an excuse to turn that old plaid Christmas tree skirt into a kilt and start doing Gaelic dances in your living room, well now you’ve got one. And, as if to maintain the motif of twisted networks of noisemaking tubes, the next day, March 11, is World Plumbing Day. I had hoped that the ritual observance powers-that-be might carry that theme on to March 12 with Gastrointestinal Awareness and Support (GAS) Day, but apparently that’s not until barbecue season in August.
In the USA, April is National Humor Month, coinciding with the global acceptance of April Fool’s Day on the 1st. But April is also National Fresh Celery Month, and that’s no laughing matter. In ways that we don’t always readily perceive, humanity depends on a good supply of fresh celery (see GAS Day, above).
Some of these specially earmarked days and months are suspicious, as if commercial interests have simply claimed their own commemorative time slots to draw attention to their products. For example, there’s Wine Day, which falls on the 20th of every month. Why? In French both vin (wine) and vingt (20) are conveniently pronounced the same. With a more ambitious marketing campaign, though, they could have covered even more calendrical real estate: “Wine Wednesday! Thirsty Thursday! Fermented Friday! Besotterday!” and so on.
David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel Infinite Jest satirized the concept of corporate procurement of solar/lunar time units by creating a near-future world in which each calendar year is given a sponsor rather than a number. (My personal favorite is “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.”) Wallace may have been prophetic. I used to think it was no big deal when the TV news said, “Today’s weather is brought to you by—” while naming some major sponsoring business or other. But nowadays I get uneasy when I see persistent Rakuten shopping ads in my phone’s weather app, like it’s going to start raining unless I go online right now and order a new umbrella. And what is going to happen to me if I go through International Body Piercing Day (June 28) without getting a new belly button barbell stud?
Like other countries, Japan has its own designated days of socio-commercial awareness, but the only ones I ever hear about are the “cute” ones (like Wine Day above) that play with the sounds of numbers and dates. For example, there’s Happy Couple Day (いい夫婦, iifuufu = good couple), which is on November 22 simply because the numbers 1, 1, 2, 2 can be said as i, i, fu, fu. Same goes for Mountain Climbing Day on October 3 (mountain climbing = 登山, tozan, a slightly altered way of saying 10 and 3). Using this system, I have designated April 20 as National Be Rude Day. The numbers 4, 2, and 0 can be read as shi, tsu, rei in Japanese, and shitsurei (失礼) means “impoliteness”. Mark your calendars!
Time intervals dedicated to language awareness are also out there, and not just silly ones like Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19). There are days for languages like Arabic (12/18), Portuguese (5/5), Braille (1/4), and sign languages (9/23). There is even a day for emoji (0_0)! According to one website, the International Day of Multilingualism falls on March 27. That date was chosen because it is the only date appearing in all three of the ancient languages found on the famous 2200-year-old Rosetta Stone. (The actual text reads: “From: King Ptolemy V; To: Kelly; Cc: Team—Hey, it’s March 27, folks. Quarterly budget reports are due THIS WEEK. Let’s get some hustle on!”)
I think it would be fun to have a “Royal We Month.” People talk like monarchs and refer to themselves in the plural for the entire month. Lawyers and doctors have been doing this for ages, with lines such as, “How are we doing today?” and “Let’s have a look at our tonsils, shall we?” (Addressing individual clients in the plural probably has something to do with how much they charge for appointments.) So why not pluralize yourself for a month and see what kind of social benefits you can multiply? Who knows, maybe you can talk your way out of a parking ticket or something: “Do not lecture us, Officer. We have far more important matters to deliberate than the locations of our fair city’s fire hydrants.”