- By John Stark
You probably think there aren't many, if any, holidays between the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Fact is, there are dozens — practically one for every day. So don't worry, you have plenty of reasons to invite friends over for cookouts. I've put together a list of not-so-well-known holidays and observances to help you avoid the summer doldrums. They range from serious to silly, inspirational to insane.
I’ve left off events that aren’t especially relevant or unique to our age group, like "Different Colored Eye Day" (July 12), "Embrace Your Geekness Day" (July 13) and "Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day" (Aug. 8).
Here then are 20 summer holidays whose dates you'll want to circle. They're certain to make your summer a blast!
July 2: I Forgot Day
Finally, a holiday for the forgetful! July 2 is a day where you can celebrate important occurrences that you forgot to remember, like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Plan early this year and make good on all the things/days/events that you forgot to acknowledge earlier this year.
July 11: Cheer Up the Lonely Day
A good day to get out your Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Or Revolver, where Eleanor Rigby "waits at the window, wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door." The purpose of this day is to pay a visit to someone who needs companionship, like an elderly relative or neighbor. Sadly, Eleanor Rigby represents so many seniors. “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”
July 14: Pandemonium Day
What distinguishes this holiday from any other day of our lives? It gives us permission to go with the flow and not get rattled by whatever happens at work or at home. Your car just got a flat tire and you forgot to bring your cell phone? Whatever, it's all good. It's also a day — if life has beome too calm and predictable — to create some excitment and drama to recharge your batteries. To really get your heart racing, dig out Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and throw a last-minute dinner party for 12. Quenelles anyone?
July 19: Toss Away the Could Haves and Should Haves Day
On this date people write down their "could haves" and "should haves" — then throw that list in the garbage or burn it. They follow that up with this resolution: “From this day forward, I choose not to live in the past. The past is history that I can’t change. I can do something about the present. I choose to live in the present.” As you destroy that list, be sure to play Edith Piaf singing "Je Ne Regrette Rien" ("I Regret Nothing").
July 20: Moon Day
All boomers know where they were on this date in 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the lunar surface. We were in front of our TVs, along with 600 million other viewers around the world. The Apollo 11 moon landing came a year after the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the escalation of the Vietnam War and race riots across the country. Armstrong’s “one small step for a man” represented one giant leap of hope for all. Let’s not forget how we felt that day. So when you climb into bed on the 44th anniversary of this historic event, say "Goodnight, moon," then blow it a kiss.
(MORE: Neil Armstrong: His Small Step, Our Big Moment)
July 22: Hammock Day
Now that summer’s in full swing, you should be, too. There’s no sight more inviting on a hot summer day than a hammock, especially one that’s shaded by a leafy tree or porch. Climb aboard. Bring a book or iPod (sorry, no email, texting or phone calls permitted) and put all stressful thoughts aside. Let Mother Nature rock you with her warm, calming breezes: zzzzzzzzz.
July 26: Aunts and Uncles Day
Our parents’ brothers and sisters were our favorite relatives growing up. They let us stay up late, took us to fun places, gave us impractical holiday presents and looked after us when mom and dad had to go out. They were the ones we could talk to about things we couldn’t tell our parents. Treasure your aunts and uncles who are still living. Be sure to remember them today. Why not repay some favors? Take them to a fun event, hear what’s on their minds or invite them for a sleepover. At the very least, call or shoot them an email.
July 27: Take Your Pants for a Walk Day
If you missed "National Walk Around Things Day" (April 4) or "National Walk to Work Day" (April 5), you won't want to miss "Take Your Pants for a Walk Day." This holiday is simply an excuse to get some healthy, moderate exercise. Be sure to wear your most comfortable pants, or even shorts. Slather on the sunscreen. While you're at it, take your dog for a walk too. Just be sure you both have plenty of water.
July 27: National Parents' Day
President Bill Clinton, in 1994, signed into law the resolution adopted by the U.S. Congress establishing the fourth Sunday of every July as Parents' Day. According to the resolution passed by Congress, Parents' Day is established for “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.” This isn’t a commercial holiday. Just a day to thank Mom and Dad for all they’ve done. You can even nominate them for awards on the National Parents' Day website — hear that, Chelsea? There’s no excuse not to get together since the holiday falls on a Sunday.
July 31: Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day
This day was originally created to bring attention to musical instruments that most people recognize but don’t usually know the names of, like the baritone, sousaphone and mellophone. But the holiday has expanded its scope to now honor all unusual instruments, like the gravikord, pikasso and ring flute. This is a great day to broaden your musical horizons. And let’s hear it for Ben Franklin, who at age 55 invented the glass harmonica. To hear how Mozart sounds when played on it, click here.
Aug. 3: National Watermelon Day
As kids we all grew up eating watermelon during July and August. Would we have craved it so much if we knew that it was good for us? Watermelon, then as now, is the perfect summer dessert or snack for boomers. Besides being 92 percent water, it has higher levels of cancer-fighting lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable and is a source of vitamins A, B6 and C. To really celebrate the day, try a cucumber-watermelon margarita — the recipe’s in our Cinco de Mayo menu.
Aug. 3: Friendship Day
In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared the first Sunday of August to be International Friendship Day. There have been, however, more than a few disputes over this. They have to do with what date this holiday actually falls on, and what to officially call it. In the 1930s Hallmark cards declared "Friendship Day" to be Aug. 2 — Hallmark eventually dropped the line of cards as no one was sending them. In Latin America, World Friendship Day is honored on July 30. In some countries, like India, Friendship Day always falls on the first Sunday in August. So the date varies. But it doesn’t matter when you decide to celebrate. There are no wrong dates when it comes to getting in touch with old friends and making new ones.
Aug. 5: National Night Out
This annual event got started in 1984 to promote community awareness in fighting crime. National Night Out now involves more than 37 million people in 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and U.S. military bases worldwide. It’s a way to meet your neighbors while sending a strong message to thieves and other criminals that you stand united in fighting crime. To show your support, turn on your porch light, then get out and start mingling. Be inventive: Many neighborhoods have potluck cookouts and block parties — community Twister, anyone?
(MORE: Healthy Summer Cookouts: Yes, They Can Be Good for You)
Aug. 7: National Lighthouse Day
On this day in 1789, Congress enacted legislation giving the federal government control over the creation and maintenance of lighthouses. National Lighthouse Day grew out of that event. Throughout our nation’s history lighthouses have been a beacon of light that represent safety and security for boats at sea. For boomers (talking to you, guys) they’ve taken on even more symbolism in erectile dysfunction ads.
Aug. 9: Book Lovers’ Day
This is a day to spend reading a book under a tree, in a hammock or on a beach. Call your office and say you won’t be in today because it’s a religious holiday. It is if you worship books.
Aug. 10: National Garage Sale Day
This is your official day to lighten your load and get rid of all the clutter that’s weighing you down. Garage sales are also known as yard sales, rummage sales, tag sales, lawn sales, attic sales, moving sales, garbage sales, thrift sales and junk sales. You’ll be calling your garage sale by a new name when it's over: Mental Health Sale.
Aug. 12: Vinyl Record Day
In 2002 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in California adopted a proclamation declaring this date to be Vinyl Record Day — who says government can’t get anything done? Despite the occasional scratches, the rich depth of sound that vinyl produces provides a far more immersive listening experience than CDs, say many music lovers. This is a day to dig out your old 45s and 33s and show them some love. Buy a turntable and speakers. They're all the rage again. If you don't have any vinyl, not to worry — vintage LPs are being re-released, and new ones are being made by current artists like Adele. Yard sales are also a great place to find old albums. Some, if you know what to look for, can be worth thousands of dollars.
(MORE: What Goes Around Comes Around: Vinyl Records Ae Back)
Aug. 19: Photography Day
Finally, a day for all shutterbugs. Each year Aug. 19 is an opportunity to celebrate all photographers — from amateurs to the pros. Photography can share stories and inspire people in amazing ways. With the advent of digital photos, capturing and sharing one's perspective has never been easier, or more fun!
Aug. 16: International Homeless Animals’ Day
On the third Saturday of August each year groups around the world come together to raise awareness about pet overpopulation. In many states there are events, such as adopt-a-thons, dog walks, candlelight vigils, raffles, games and petition-signings advocating spaying and neutering. If you really want to make a difference, adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group. It's a way of making every day of the year Friendship Day.
Aug. 21: National Senior Citizens Day
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Senior Citizens Day in 1988 – he was 77 years old at the time. The purpose of the observance is to honor the contributions of the elderly in the United States. Look for special senior citizen discounts at stores and restaurants. If you’re not a senior, don’t feel left out. You can volunteer at a nursing home or senior center, offer to help an older neighbor with yard work or do a video interview with an elderly relative about his or her life. If you want evidence that your best years may be ahead of you, watch the new documentary, Age of Champions, which is being shown on PBS this Tuesday night and is available on iTunes and Amazon. It's about the National Senior Games. Tennis, anyone — against a 100-year-old gold medalist?
Aug. 27: Just Because Day
This holiday has no rhyme or reason, which makes it a perfect way to end the month of August. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are pretty much over. September will be here in a few days, which is when vacations end, school begins and workloads pick up. The big holidays are just ahead: Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa. … But don't stress. On this fine day, do whatever you want. Just because.