Mental Floss

18 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate in January

Laura Turner Garrison

It’s a New Year, which means 12 new months to observe some offbeat, obscure and just plain odd holidays. Like these!

January 7th: National Old Rock Day
Have you thanked a veteran rock today? Though no official creator has stepped forward, paleontologists must be behind this holiday honoring the fossils and rock formations that are as old as time.

January 9th: National Static Electricity Day

Crazy hair image via Shutterstock

Grab your balloons and sweaters! It’s time to build up your static charge and conduct some electrons. This is the perfect holiday to occur in the dead of winter, when the air is extra dry – the optimal conditions for storing up those negative charges that shock you at the most unexpected times.

January 10th: Peculiar People Day

This holiday commemorates the unicorn in all of us. Although there is no official origin story, National Whatever Day theorizes PPD may have spun off from an obscure Christian denomination in England known as “The Peculiar People.”

January 14th: National Dress Up Like Your Pet or Dress Up Your Pet Day
There are conflicting reports as to the specifics of this holiday, but January 14th is definitely either a day to make your beloved pet extra fancy or a day to dress up similarly. For the latter, it is unclear whether this means matching outfits or literally donning a full fur suit.

January 16th: National Nothing Day
A non-holiday created in 1972 by journalist Harold Pullman Coffin, National Nothing Day requires you to not observe, celebrate, honor or commemorate anything. Which might prove tricky this year as it coincides with Martin Luther King Day. However, for most Americans it is a work holiday, providing the perfect opportunity to at least do absolutely nothing.

January 17th: Kid Inventors Day
The Kid Inventors Day website attributes television, water skis, earmuffs and the Popsicle to the minds of brilliant minors. Technically the man who invented the first working television, Philo Farnsworth, applied for the patent at age 21 in 1927. But, he showed an early design for his TV to his teacher at age 14. The purpose of Kid Inventors Day is to celebrate and encourage the ingenuity of children — so the Farnsworth blueprint counts!

Fun Holiday Fact: the name of the holiday makes the acronym KID.

January 18th: Thesaurus Day
On this day in 1779, British lexicographer Peter Mark Roget was born. He is most famous for publishing The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (aka “Roget’s Thesaurus”) in 1852. This holiday is a day to honor, celebrate, extol, laud, praise, revere or salute his contributions.

January 20th: Penguin Awareness Day
Not to be confused with World Penguin Day on April 25th, this holiday encourages you to cultivate even more knowledge of the Spheniscidae family. For example, there are between 17 and 20 species of penguins in the world. Or were you aware that contrary to popular belief, some penguin species are only monogamous during mating season – not for life? There’s so much awareness to go around!

January 22nd: National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day
If animals could talk, what would they say? We may never know the real answer, but January 22nd is a day to remember the thoughts and feelings of your domestic feline. Don’t worry if cat whispering isn’t your forte. Cat-oriented websites like Cat Channel offer some great icebreakers to get the conversation started. For example, “Are hairballs a common malady? What can my human do to prevent them?”

January 24th: Beer Can Appreciation Day
77 years ago to the day, the first beer was sold in cans. Since then the beer can has become a barbecue staple, a collector’s item and a maligned receptacle for some beer snobs. Today, pause before chugging, shotgunning or crushing and take a moment to reflect on what your beer can means to you.

January 25th: National Opposite Day
January 25th is definitely not national opposite day.

January 27th: Thomas Crapper Day
Often incorrectly credited with inventing the toilet, Thomas Crapper was a plumber and businessman who did, in fact, champion the modern wash closet and also invented the ballcock — that floating ball in the body of your toilet. His apropos surname was just a coincidence; the word “crap” already existed in the English language at the time of his birth.

January 28th: National Kazoo Day
Founded by Chaplin Willard Rahn of the Joyful Kazoo Band, National Kazoo Day celebrates 162 years of this plastic instrument. The organization behind the holiday, Kazoo America, hopes to one day make the kazoo “America’s official musical instrument.” They ask that you please remember the kazoo is definitely NOT related to the Vuvuzela.

January 30th: National Inane Answering Message Day
Officially, this holiday’s purpose was to assign a day for people to clean out old and pointless voicemails on their answering machines. However, some people have since interpreted it as a day to leave inane voicemails for others. With the proliferation of text messages and decline of landlines, take the opportunity to observe this holiday now before it becomes as obsolete as home answering machines!

For Next Year...

January 1st: First Foot Day
A Scottish New Year tradition, the first person to step into someone’s home is called the “first-footer” and is thought to represent good fortune entering the household—in the form of gifts including coal, whiskey, cash and/or cheese and bread. Sorry ladies and blond men, in order to be considered lucky the first-footer should always be a dark-haired man.

January 3rd: Fruitcake Toss Day
Although it may sound like a culinary Olympic event, Fruitcake Toss Day just marks the time when it is finally socially acceptable to trash all of the holiday fruitcakes you received. If you choose to turn the event into a throwing contest, make sure to have paper towels handy.

January 4th: World Hypnotism Day
According to the official website, World Hypnotism Day was created to educate the people of the world that hypnotism is more than just staring at a swinging gold watch whilst being told how sleepy you are getting. To further your learning, you can download audio clips from the site or search for events in your area.

January 4th: National Trivia Day
Here's how we celebrated this year: 119 Amazing Facts for National Trivia Day.