30 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate in June

iStock/CasarsaGuru
iStock/CasarsaGuru

The official start of summer is upon us! Let's celebrate all month long with some unconventional holidays.

1. June 1: Heimlich Maneuver Day

Named after the doctor who invented it, the Heimlich maneuver has seriously curbed the hazards of choking since its introduction in the 1970s.

2. June 1: Say Something Nice Day

Seems simple enough.

3. June 2: National Rocky Road Day

Rocky road ice cream in a waffle bowl
iStock/MSPhotographic

While this iconic ice cream flavor is generally associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure, its inception was the result of some pretty dire times. Recognizing the “rocky road” ahead for Americans after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, ice cream purveyor William Dreyer dreamed up this recipe as a temporary salve to the economic ills in the United States. Though some naysayers contest whether the credit for this cream-marshmallow-almond-chocolate chip recipe belongs 100 percent to Dreyer, few people will contest that Rocky Road ice cream is 100 percent delicious.

4. June 3: National Doughnut Day

No matter how you spell it (we're a doughnut family), today's the official day to celebrate this hole-iest of confections. This holiday, celebrated annually on the first Friday in June, was founded in 1938 to honor the role the sweet treat played in World War I. Members of the Salvation Army, who became known as "Doughnut Dollies," distributed donuts to soldiers to supplement their rations. Years later, during the Great Depression, the Salvation Army created the holiday to remember these earlier services and encourage fundraising by giving symbolic paper "donuts" out in exchange for donations. But these days people celebrate with the real thing.

5. June 3: National Leave the Office Early Day

You don’t have to tell us twice.

6. June 3: Chimborazo Day

An image of Ecuador's Mount Chimborazo
iStock/reisegraf

Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the highest mountain on Earth (yep, higher than Mount Everest). Even though it's technically shorter with an elevation of 20,564 feet versus Everest's 29,029 feet, Chimborazo's location gives it a boost: the equatorial bulge means that its peak is farther away from the planet's center than anywhere else.

7. June 3: National Repeat Day

June 3: National Repeat Day.

8. June 4: Hug Your Cat Day

As if you needed an excuse!

9. June 5: Global Running Day

Whether you passionately love it or passionately hate it, few people feel neutral on the subject of running. In light of the positive passions, runners around the world take to the streets on the first Wednesday of every June to express their love of optional physical duress.

10. June 6: National Yo-Yo Day

A blue yo-yo against a red and black background
iStock/RapidEye

Donald F. Duncan had more to celebrate about his life than an amazing name; he helped popularize the yo-yo. Though technically invented by a man named Pedro Flores in the late 1920’s, the yo-yo didn’t hit the mainstream until the entrepreneurial Duncan purchased Flores’s Yo-Yo Toy Company, mass-produced this circular piece of plastic and string, and introduced it to the world. June 6th is believed to be Duncan’s birthday.

11. June 8: World Oceans Day

In 2008, the United Nations officially designated June 8 as a day to honor the part of the planet covered in water. Which is to say, most of it. Even before that it was celebrated by the Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network. These days, it's a growing global event with a focus on education and preservation.

12. June 8: Name Your Poison Day

Although this holiday is widely open to interpretation, we recommend no one take it literally. Instead, muster up the courage to boldly acknowledge the one vice in your life that you simply cannot resist no matter how terrible it may be for you. Unless said “poison” happens to be arsenic.

13. June 10: National Ballpoint Pen Day

Put away your quills, fountains, and felts, for today we honor the gravity-dependent ink dispenser we know as the ballpoint pen. It may not have the panache of a gel writing utensil, or the precision of a roller ball. But when it comes to getting ink onto paper and the bottoms of shirt pockets, ballpoints certainly get the job done.

14. June 12: National Jerky Day

A bowl of beef jerky
iStock/alisafarov

No explanation required: chew and be merry.

15. June 14: World Blood Donor Day

A holiday created to bring awareness to the immense amount of good you can do just by donating blood—find a drive near you today!

16. June 15: World Juggling Day

If you're coordinated and like party tricks but felt left out of National Yo-Yo Day, this offbeat holiday is for you—no clown costume required. It’s celebrated by juggling clubs around the world (presumably by juggling things).

17. June 16: Bloomsday

Each year, on the anniversary of the day that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place, fans of the author celebrate his life and work in cities around the world as part of a holiday named for the protagonist: Leopold Bloom.

18. June 17: National Eat Your Vegetables Day

You had better be prepared to finish those Brussels sprouts today if you know what’s good for you! Like Brussels sprouts, for example. They’re a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin C.

19. June 18: International Sushi Day

A plate of fresh sushi
iStock/muratkoc

Any food worth its salt, or umami, has its own holiday. But if you're looking for an excuse to eat sushi, June 18th seems as good a day as any other.

20. June 18: International Picnic Day

Since it falls during the workweek this year, International Picnic Day may also have to stand for International Personal Day. But a basketful of goodies, domestic or international, and a nice patch of grass will definitely be worth calling in with a mysterious “summer cold.”

21. June 19: World Sauntering Day

A man named W.T. "Bill" Rabe, a publicist allegedly rampant self-promoter, is said to have conceived this holiday in the 1970s on Mackinac Island, Michigan. According to Merriam-Webster, to saunter one must merely “walk about in an idle or leisurely manner.” So for all of you who balked at a running holiday, thank Rabe for providing a much more casual holiday for getting around.

22. June 21: Go Skateboarding Day

Founded by the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) in 2003, this holiday coincides with the summer solstice.

23. June 21: Take Your Dog To Work Day

A Weimaraner at the office
iStock/Image Source Ltd

Created in 1999 by Pet Sitters International, this is a day intended to encourage people to adopt pets from animal shelters—presumably by making all your dog-less coworkers incredibly jealous.

24. June 22: National Onion Rings Day

National Onion Rings Day: for those of you who like your holidays deep-fried.

25. June 23: Let It Go Day

Technically not related to Disney's Frozen (but thematically relevant), this is a day for letting go of baggage and hang-ups, and it's a good opportunity to get that song stuck in your head for the next six months.

26. June 24: International Fairy Day

A relatively young holiday for a relatively old mythical creature, International Fairy Day was created by artist Jessica Galbreth for “believers, collectors, and the young at heart to celebrate all that is Fae and reconnect with their imagination and child-like wonder.”

27. June 26: Log Cabin Day

A log cabin in the woods
iStock/coryz

This holiday is all about reconnecting to a simpler, more quiet time. In lieu of a log cabin, maybe sit under a tree or don't check Twitter for five minutes?

28. June 27: National Handshake Day

Celebrate by reading up on the proper handshake etiquette from around the world.

29. June 28: National Eat At A Food Truck Day

The annual celebration gives you an excuse to support local businesses by chowing down on a gourmet donut or "mustache pretzel."

30. June 28: Insurance Awareness Day

Do you have insurance? If you answered that question, you just observed this holiday.

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Things You Might Not Know About Juneteenth

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

There's more than one Independence Day in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced enslaved people were now free. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated as Juneteenth across the nation. Here's what you should know about the historic event and celebration.

1. Enslaved people had already been emancipated—they just didn’t know it.

The June 19 announcement came more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. So technically, from the Union's perspective, the 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were already free—but none of them were aware of it, and no one was in a rush to inform them.

2. There are many theories as to why the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t enforced in Texas.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union General Ulysses S Grant at the close of the American Civil War, at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union General Ulysses S Grant at the close of the American Civil War, at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

News traveled slowly back in those days—it took Confederate soldiers in western Texas more than two months to hear that Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. Still, some have struggled to explain the 30-month gap between Lincoln’s proclamation and the enslaved people’s freedom, leading to speculation that some Texans suppressed the announcement. Other theories include that the original messenger was murdered to prevent the information from being relayed or that the federal government purposely delayed the announcement to Texas to get one more cotton harvest out of the enslaved workers. But the real reason is probably that Lincoln's proclamation simply wasn't enforceable in the rebel states before the end of the war.

3. The announcement actually urged freedmen and freedwomen to stay with their former owners.

General Order No. 3, as read by General Granger, said:

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."

4. What followed was known as “the scatter.”


Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr // No known copyright restrictions

Most freedpeople weren't terribly interested in staying with the people who had enslaved them, even if pay was involved. In fact, some were leaving before Granger had finished making the announcement. What followed became known as "the scatter,," when droves of former enslaved people left the state to find family members or more welcoming accommodations in northern regions.

5. Not all enslaved people were freed instantly.

Texas is a large state, and General Granger's order (and the troops needed to enforce it) were slow to spread. According to historian James Smallwood, many enslavers deliberately suppressed the information until after the harvest, and some beyond that. In July 1867 there were two separate reports of enslaved people being freed, and one report of a Texas horse thief named Alex Simpson whose enslaved people were only freed after his hanging in 1868.

6. Freedom created other problems.

Despite the announcement, Texas slave owners weren't too eager to part with what they felt was their property. When freedpeople tried to leave, many of them were beaten, lynched, or murdered. "They would catch [freed slaves] swimming across [the] Sabine River and shoot them," a former enslaved person named Susan Merritt recalled.

7. There were limited options for celebrating.

A monument in Houston's Emancipation Park.
A monument in Houston's Emancipation Park.
2C2KPhotography, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When freedpeople tried to celebrate the first anniversary of the announcement a year later, they were faced with a problem: Segregation laws were expanding rapidly, and there were no public places or parks they were permitted to use. So, in the 1870s, former enslaved people pooled together $800 and purchased 10 acres of land, which they deemed "Emancipation Park." It was the only public park and swimming pool in the Houston area that was open to African Americans until the 1950s.

8. Juneteenth celebrations waned for several decades.

It wasn't because people no longer wanted to celebrate freedom—but, as Slate so eloquently put it, "it's difficult to celebrate freedom when your life is defined by oppression on all sides." Juneteenth celebrations waned during the era of Jim Crow laws until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when the Poor People's March planned by Martin Luther King Jr. was purposely scheduled to coincide with the date. The march brought Juneteenth back to the forefront, and when march participants took the celebrations back to their home states, the holiday was reborn.

9. Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday.

Texas deemed the holiday worthy of statewide recognition in 1980, becoming the first state to do so.

10. Juneteeth is still not a federal holiday.

Though most states now officially recognize Juneteenth, it's still not a national holiday. As a senator, Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday, though it didn't pass then or while he was president. One supporter of the idea is 93-year-old Opal Lee—in 2016, when she was 90, Lee began walking from state to state to draw attention to the cause.

11. The Juneteenth flag is full of symbolism.

a mock-up of the Juneteenth flag
iStock

Juneteenth flag designer L.J. Graf packed lots of meaning into her design. The colors red, white, and blue echo the American flag to symbolize that the enslaved people and their descendants were Americans. The star in the middle pays homage to Texas, while the bursting "new star" on the "horizon" of the red and blue fields represents a new freedom and a new people.

12. Juneteenth traditions vary across the U.S.

As the tradition of Juneteenth spread across the U.S., different localities put different spins on celebrations. In southern states, the holiday is traditionally celebrated with oral histories and readings, "red soda water" or strawberry soda, and barbecues. Some states serve up Marcus Garvey salad with red, green, and black beans, in honor of the black nationalist. Rodeos have become part of the tradition in the southwest, while contests, concerts, and parades are a common theme across the country.