Television characters are always coming up with new and exciting ways to celebrate traditional holidays. Here are a few ways you can celebrate real holidays in entirely new ways thanks to your favorite fictional characters.
1. Cinco de Mayo: Arrested Development
The Basics: To be fair, the folks on the show actually celebrate Cinco de Cuatro, but because it’s a direct response to Cinco de Mayo and celebrated on the eve of the real holiday, it’s close enough to a real holiday. Cinco de Cuatro is one of the main settings for the new Netflix episodes that make up season 4. The whole thing starts out when young Lucille Bluth (Kristen Wiig) and George Bluth Sr. (Seth Rogen) get annoyed that their housekeeper has taken the day off for Cinco de Mayo. They decide to throw their own party on the fourth that will consume all of the Cinco de Mayo party decorations so the Newport Beach Mexican-American population will have nothing left to celebrate with and, thus, won’t be able to take the day off.
Of course, the enterprising Mexican-Americans soon embrace the holiday, as it provides them a great opportunity to make extra money by selling Cinco de Mayo products to the wealthy populace. In the end, everyone ends up embracing the holiday.
How to Celebrate It: Most of us don’t have the money to buy out all the Cinco de Mayo decorations in our entire town (nor would we want to), but holding your Cinco de Mayo festivities a day early by the nearest waterway is always fun—especially if the local boaters start joining in and hold a “Festival of Lights” boat parade. You can also enjoy the holiday by putting together your own musical version of The Fantastic Four (or your own favorite group of superhero crime fighters).
2. Leap Day: 30 Rock
The Basics: In the 30 Rock universe, Leap Day is a real holiday and Liz Lemon (who always spends the day inside) is the only one who doesn’t know about it. Leap Day even has its own holiday mascot, Leap Day William, who was even played by Jim Carrey in a movie at one point. Leap Day William lives in the Mariana Trench, has gills on his neck and fangs, and gives candy to children in exchange for their tears. The traditional colors for Leap Day celebrations are blue and yellow, which are the same colors as Leap Day William’s suit, and like Saint Patrick's Day, it's critical you wear these colors on the holiday.
Another Leap Day tradition, unrelated to William, is leaving out rhubarb for your guests—though Jack goes down a dangerous road when he eats the leaves rather than the stems, despite Kenneth’s warnings.
You can download and watch the whole episode here.
How to Celebrate It: Who doesn’t want an opportunity to celebrate a day that only appears on the calendar every four years? While you won’t get to celebrate the holiday again until 2016, you can at least start preparing for the biggest Leap Day celebration ever. Invest in a blue and yellow suit, and buy some costume gills and fangs so you can jovially play William for all the crying children. Alternatively, save up all of your tears in the hopes that they will land you lots of extra candy in a few years. On the day of, don’t forget to put out your rhubarb and don your blue and yellow. And as Kenneth reminds us, if you ever see a man in a blue suit, say “hi.”
Of course, you can always celebrate like Tracy Jordan and save any gift cards and Groupons that are set to expire at the end of February and try to use them all up on the 29th, even if you have $50,000 worth of Benihana gift cards to spend.
(And if you want to follow 30 Rock’s lead when it comes to Christmas by throwing a Ludachristmas party, The Daily Titan has some great suggestions for making it a party to remember.)
3. Leif Erikson Day: SpongeBob
The Basics: You may not have heard of Leif Erikson Day, but it is a real holiday that takes place on October 9. The date doesn’t coincide with any dates from Leif Erikson’s trip as the first European to travel to North America. Instead, it was the arrival date of the ship Restauration, which headed the first organized immigration from Norway to the US.
While Leif Erikson Day might not be that popular here, it happens to be one of SpongeBob’s favorite holidays, appearing in the episode "Bubble Buddy."
How to Celebrate It: If you want to commemorate the day like SpongeBob, just strap on a Viking helmet and a red beard, paddle your furniture around, and talk like the Swedish Chef all day. And if you don't have anyone to celebrate with, make up your own friend like SpongeBob does.
4. Daylight Saving Day: Pete and Pete
The Basics: The Petes always stay up until the clocks are turned back, trying to always do something amazing during the last possible hour of Daylight Saving Time. In the episode, it’s the first year the brothers spend the day apart, with older Pete going on his first date with Ellen and younger Pete and his neighbor Nona plotting revenge against the neighborhood bully, Endless Mike.
On the advice of Endless Mike, older Pete acts like a jerk to Ellen by trying to get her to fool around with him. Ellen gets fed up and decides to walk home from the drive-in. Meanwhile, Little Pete switches the drive-in movie for home video footage of Endless Mike as a baby, embarrassing him in front of everyone there.
Older Pete chases after Ellen and apologizes, asking her if, in the spirit of Daylight Saving, she can forget what a jerk he was the last hour and if they can go back to being friends. She agrees and kisses him on the cheek.
Endless Mike chases younger Pete so far that the two end up crossing time zones, leaving Pete to time travel again. The event is eventually immortalized in the making of a slidey pen that features the chase.
How to Celebrate It: Most people just turn their clocks back before they go to bed or the next morning when they wake up, but when you get an extra hour in your life, you might as well celebrate it. It is, after all, the closest most of us will ever get to time traveling. Do something you’ve always wanted to do that night and, like New Year’s Eve, be sure to stay up until the big clock change or else the whole night is pointless.
Don’t forget to bring along a mood ring to help catalog your emotions and some Krebloggs cereal with Riboflavin, or you might get stuck between time zones forever.
5. Arbor Day: Raising Hope
The Basics: The Chance family never had money, so after seeing Jimmy get picked on the day after Christmas for receiving a crummy handmade yo-yo that only goes down, they decide that since they can’t give him the best Christmas, they’ll give him the best days possible on other holidays. For Presidents Day, they'd throw chocolate coins all over Jimmy, they would all settle down to watch 90210, eat a special meal of LBJ sandwiches (lettuce, butter, and jelly) and then Burt would sing a special song. For Groundhog Day, the family would dig holes in the backyard, fill them with treats for Jimmy to find, they would all settle down to watch 90210, enjoy a special meal with six more weeks of hot dogs, and then Burt would sing a special song. For Chinese New Year, the family would make a bon fire, light some sparklers, they would all settle down to watch 90210, eat a special meal of egg foo young, and Burt would sing a special song.
Young Jimmy’s favorite holiday was always Arbor Day though, when his dad would dress up like Papa Woody, “the mystical, gift-giving wizard of the forest” who pitches his tent “deep in the bush.” Papa Woody would bring a bunch of magical trees inside the Chance home and load them up with candy and toys from the dollar store. Then, the family would then all settle down to watch 90210 and enjoy a delicious dinner of warm maple syrup soup before Burt sang a special song.
There is one problem with the Chance’s Arbor Day celebration—the trees Jimmy finds are pulled from the ground after traditional Arbor Day revelers plant them. The family then leaves them to dry out in the backyard until they can be burned for Chinese New Year.
You can download and watch the whole episode here.
How to Celebrate It: The Chance family proves you don’t need money to make your child feel special. They also prove that even second-string holidays deserve the chance to become something a lot more magical. Why not celebrate Presidents Day, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and Arbor Day? Granted, you might not want to celebrate with the same foods they enjoy and you’ll probably want to watch something besides 90210, but these overlooked holidays can be just as good as the big ones if you make your own special holiday traditions.
While their Arbor Day celebration is pretty amazing—from the holiday mascot with adult innuendos to the idea of making saplings fun for youngsters—you probably ought to add a little bit of a traditional twist here. If you want to celebrate a Chance-style Arbor Day celebration, get tree saplings to plant, hold your Papa Woody surprise first and then tell the youngsters that they have to help plant the trees if they want Papa Woody to come back again next year. This way, everyone wins!
Remember, holiday traditions are only traditions because someone decided to celebrate that way a long time ago. So if you want to have your own special holiday traditions, all you have to do is start celebrating with your friends and family every year. Next thing you know, your kids will be passing your made-up traditions down to their kids.