Monday, September 8, 2014

and now for something completely different . . .

New Fictional Holidays: Literary Dates to Add to Your Calendar

Daniel Lefferts

May saw geeks and sci-fi-lovers celebrating not one but two fiction-inspired holidays. First, there was May the Fourth and its flood of Star Wars-themed memes and GIFS on Facebook and Tumblr (get it? “May the force…”?). 

Next, there was Towel Day on May 25, on which fans of the late Douglas Adams carry around a towel in honor of the author and, in particular, a characteristically strange passage from his novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which the towel is praised as “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”


We at Bookish love these holidays and think fiction-inspired celebrations are far too rare a feature of the calendar. So, below, we’ve proposed five more literary dates of note, from ‘On the Road’ Day in July to a day in April on which you’re allowed to feel as paranoid about government surveillance as you see fit. I

1.Mrs. Dalloway (Annotated)

Mrs. Dalloway Day: A beautiful Wednesday in June
Virginia Woolf’s classic novel takes place on a Wednesday in June of 1923. Given how beautiful the weather is in the novel, this one can be a TBD—pick whichever Wednesday in the month will be, according to weather forecasts, the loveliest. How to celebrate? By buying flowers (yourself!) and hosting a party, of course. In general, celebrants should, in the interest of preserving their health and sanity, follow Clarissa Dalloway’s lead on this one, and not poor Septimus Smith’s.
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2.The Hunger Games

Reaping Day: A dreary day in winter
The Reaping is the name given to the day on which, in the world ofThe Hunger Games, boys and girls from each district from Panem are chosen to compete in the annual Hunger Games competition. Though emissaries from the Capitol, such as Effie Trinket, try to inflect the occasion with a celebratory spirit, the event effectively means, for 23 of the 24 people chosen, certain death. Hunger Games fans can have fun with this holiday (on whichever day they end up choosing to celebrate it; given the constant dreariness of District 12, perhaps a date in February or March will do). “Winners” of the lottery can buy drinks, go on bagel runs, serve as DDs, give foot massages, etc. I’ll stop there before my suggestions get any weirder.

3.On the Road

'On the Road’ Day: July 15
“In the month of July 1947, having saved about fifty dollars from old veteran benefits, I was ready to go to the West Coast.” So begins Sal Paradise’s multipart peripatetic adventure across America—a trip that will take him to California, Mexico City, Louisiana, and back to New York, all the while showing him (and us) the unsettled and invariably engrossing milieu of mid-century North America. A day in July should be devoted to the commemoration of his journey; it’ll also serve the secondary purpose of inspiring celebrants to set off on their own road trips. So as not to collide with Independence Day weekend fun, we nominate a day at the dead center of the month, July 15.
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4.Seize the Day

Day of Moral Reckoning (or, ‘Seize the Day’ Day): Whenever the mood strikes
A good book causes us to reflect on our own life, with its string of various success and failures, and a good literary-inspired holiday gives a specific time frame in which to complete such heroic acts of contemplation. Though it’s unclear on which day Saul Bellow’s novelSeize the Day takes place, pretty much any day of the year will do. Like the protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm, celebrants can spend the day wrestling with their own demons, character flaws, and ill-considered decisions and, just when all hope seems lost (let’s say around seven p.m.), finally come to accept what Bellow calls the “burden of self.” A few cocktails in the evening should round out the holiday quite nicely.


5.1984

Surveillance Awareness Day: April 4
With the NSA intercepting packages and tracking the phone calls of the entire population of the Bahamas like it ain’t no thang, the gap between the world of George Orwell’s 1984 and ours has become sliver-thin, if it exists at all. April 4, the day on which the novel begins (it’s the “bright cold day in April” when the “clocks were striking thirteen”), should serve as an annual day of heightened awareness of government surveillance and its consequences for privacy, quality of life, and the political health of our country.