33 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate In October

Anton Ostapenko/iStock via Getty Images
Anton Ostapenko/iStock via Getty Images

The spookiest month of the year has arrived, and with it, a calendar full of offbeat holidays. Between your autumnal walks, horror movie marathons, and oh, National Cat Day on October 29 (which is basically the year's most important holiday here at Mental Floss) see if you can squeeze in a few of these unconventional celebrations.

1. October 1: World Vegetarian Day

It's easy enough to eat meat-free for a day, but this celebration is intended to kick off a month of vegetarian awareness and encourage more lasting change.

2. October 2: World Farm Animals Day

Different colors cows feeding at the same time
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This may seem at odds with World Vegetarian Day, until you consider that this is actually a day to protest the farm in farm animal and the cruel conditions it implies. It's an admirable effort, but the founders of World Farm Animals Day were a little heavy-handed in their decision to celebrate the cause on Gandhi's birthday.

3. October 2: National Custodial Worker's recognition Day

Because really, we should be celebrating them every day.

4. October 4: Ten-Four Day

Group of hands holding portable two way radios with yellow background
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The fourth day of the 10th month of the year is the day the world celebrates radio operators, to which we say, “Ten-Four.”

5. October 4: National Ships-In-Bottles Day

ship in a bottle
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Someone spent a lot of time making this art happen, so let's take a little time to appreciate it.

6. October 7: World Smile Day

If the calendar says you have to do it, you have to do it.

7. October 8: National Pierogi Day

A plate of pierogis
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On this day in 1952, pierogies were first delivered to a grocery store in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, and we’ve been devouring them ever since.

8. October 9: Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work/School Day

Woman and teddy bear sitting bench
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No judgment here if you've entered the working world and have yet to outgrow your teddy bear—in fact, all the more reason to celebrate.

9. October 9: International Top Spinning Day

Two wooden and colorful spinning tops
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A good day to head to the toy store and take a spin.

10. October 10: National Handbag Day

Sky blue handbag purse and beautiful woman hand with red manicure isolated on pink background
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We carry them around, but in many ways, it’s the handbags that carry us.

11.October 10: National Cake Decorating Day

Making a boxed cake recipe and applying the frosting with a butter knife definitely counts.

12. October 11: Southern Food Heritage Day

Close-up photo of fried chicken and waffles
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Sorry, but if you're not eating a plate of chicken and waffles like the above, or something equally Southern, on October 11, you're doing it wrong.

13. October 12: International Moment Of Frustration Scream Day

To celebrate this organized catharsis, go outdoors at 12 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (8 a.m. EST) and scream for 30 seconds.

14. October 15: National Grouch Day

Grumpy old man frowns at the camera
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For those who love one, and those who are one.

15. October 15: National Face Your Fears Day

The spookiest month of the year is as good a time as any.

16. October 16: Hagfish Day

Large blue bin of slime eels or hagfish
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These eel-shaped, slime-producing fish are fairly disgusting (seriously), but they're also kind of awesome. They have four hearts, have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and can feed through their skin. So while it might not be beautiful, the humble hagfish does deserve a little love and respect.

17. October 16: Dictionary Day

An open dictionary isolated on a white background
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October 16th is Noah Webster’s birthday, so take a break from your lackadaisical use of the English language, k?

18. October 17: Get Smart About Credit Day

Hand with chalk is drawing Credit score concept on the chalkboard.
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This American Bankers Association holiday is all about educating the public on credit—and if that stresses you out, you should probably be observing this quirky commemoration.

19. October 19: Sweetest Day

Traditionally celebrated in the Midwest and Northeastern United States, Sweetest Day is a lot like Valentine's Day, which—depending on your outlook—is either a very good thing or a very bad thing.

20. October 19: Evaluate Your Life Day

young man at balcony in depression suffering emotional crisis
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It’s time.

21. October 22: Smart Is Cool Day

Young genius in glasses and a cardigan
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This is one that holiday that Mental Floss HQ can really get behind.

22. October 23: National Mole Day

Neither a tribute to the animal, nor a skin feature, nor an undercover spy, Mole Day honors Avogadro's Number, which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry.

23. October 23: Canning Day

Blueberry jam in jar with berries and leaves over rustic wooden table
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Nicolas Appert—the inventor of hermetically sealed food preservation and the "father of canning"—was born around this time circa 1750, and this day celebrates all things that come in jars. So, you know, put a lid on it.

24. October 26: National Mule Day

Now that you’ve celebrated moles, give a tip of the hat to mules—literal ones this time. On October 26, 1785, a pair of Spanish mules arrived in the U.S. as a gift from King Charles III. They’re said to have been the first mules bred in this country, by George Washington himself.

25. October 27: Cranky Co-workers Day

Depressed business people in the office
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Not that you have any of those ...

26. October 27: Mother-in-Law Day

Unfortunately, this comes after National Forgiveness Day, so if you forget to give her a call it might be a long year before she forgives you.

27. October 29: National Cat Day

Cute cat smiling at the camera
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We know you don’t need a date in the calendar for this, but it makes your Instagrams all that much more justified.

28. October 30: National Candy Corn Day

A bowl full of candy corn
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Feel free to debate the merits of a holiday for this highly controversial, tricolored confection.

29. October 30: Checklists Day

Cropped image of businesswoman writing on checklist
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Put this one on your to-do list!

30. October 30: Create A Great Funeral Day

A coffin with a flower arrangement in a morgue
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Much of October is spent focused on ghouls and goblins, but this day is all about confronting the scariest thing of all: mortality. Between your apple orchard outings and haunted house trips, make sure you and your loved ones have a plan for after you've shuffled off this mortal coil. Happy October?

31. October 30: Haunted Refrigerator Night

A skeleton's diet is blown when a sweet tooth calls in the middle of the night
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This offbeat holi-night is about exploring the darker corners and containers of your fridge. After all, we've all got some metaphorical skeletons lurking in there.

32. October 31: National Magic Day

Magician Hand Holding Fanned Deck Of Cards From Hat
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Halloween, shmalloween. This holiday is fittingly held on the anniversary of the death of Harry Houdini.

33. October 31: National Knock-Knock jokes Day

There's no better time than the spookiest day of the year to tell some good (or bad) knock-knock jokes.

Run! IHOP Is Giving Away Free Pancakes for National Pancake Day

What better way to celebrate National Pancake Day than with a free stack of IHOP's signature buttermilk pancakes?
What better way to celebrate National Pancake Day than with a free stack of IHOP's signature buttermilk pancakes?
StephanieFrey/iStock via Getty Images

If ever there were a day to forgo that container of leftovers in the fridge and treat yourself to breakfast for dinner, it’s today: IHOP is celebrating National Pancake Day by giving each customer a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. The dine-in deal is available at participating locations from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.—but the hours can vary, so you might want to confirm with your local IHOP before heading there.

While a pile of hot, syrup-soaked pancakes is definitely a good enough incentive to visit IHOP immediately, it’s not the only one. IHOP is also hosting a sweepstakes that offers thousands of instant-win prizes across all locations, and you can only enter by scanning the QR code on your table at IHOP. One lucky carb-loader will win the grand prize—pancakes for life—and other rewards include everything from $500 IHOP gift cards to IHOP merchandise like blankets, watches, duffel bags, customizable jackets, and even bikes.

The pan-tastic event is all in the spirit of charity, and IHOP is hoping to raise more than $4 million for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society—you can donate online here. According to a press release, IHOP has contributed more than $30 million to its charity partners since beginning its National Pancake Day celebrations in 2006.

“IHOP launched its National Pancake Day event 15 years ago as a way to celebrate the best food ever—pancakes—and put a purpose behind the day by partnering with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities to help kids in our communities,” Stephanie Peterson, IHOP’s executive director of communications, said in the release.

If you can’t make it to IHOP to claim your free short stack today, you can always celebrate National Pancake Day with a tall stack of homemade pancakes—find out how to make them extra fluffy here.

Why Do People Toss Beads During Mardi Gras?

Kameleon007/iStock via Getty Images
Kameleon007/iStock via Getty Images

Each year, more than 1 million people descend on New Orleans for Mardi Gras, an organized parade of debauchery and alcohol-induced torpor that may be the closest thing modern civilization has to the excesses of ancient Rome. Saturating the scene on Bourbon Street are plastic beads, handed or tossed to partygoers as a kind of currency. Some bare their breasts or offer booze in exchange for the tokens; others catch them in the air and wear the layers around their necks. Roughly 25 million pounds of beads are in circulation annually, making them as much a part of the Fat Tuesday celebration as sugary cocktails and King Cake.

Traditions and rituals can be hard to pin down, but Mardi Gras historians believe the idea of distributing trinkets began in the 1870s or 1880s, several hundred years after French settlers introduced the celebration to Louisiana in the 1600s. Party organizers—known locally as krewes—handed out baubles and other shiny objects to revelers to help commemorate the occasion. Some of them threw chocolate-covered almonds. They were joined by more mischievous attendees, who threw dirt or flour on people in an effort to stir up a little bit of trouble.

Why beads? Tiny tokens that represent wealth, health, and other prosperity have been a part of human history for centuries. In Egypt, tokens were handed out in the hopes they would guarantee a happy afterlife; the abacus, or bead-based system of accounting, used trinkets to perform calculations; pagan pre-winter rituals had people throwing grains into fields hoping to appease gods that would nourish their crops.

Humans, argues archaeologist Laurie Wilkie, display "bead lust," or a penchant for shiny objects. It's one possible reason why Mardi Gras attracts so many people with their arms in the air, elated to receive a gift of cheap plastic.

Photo of a well-dressed bulldog celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Mario Tama, Getty Images

The early beads were made of glass before more efficient production methods overseas led to an influx of plastic beads in the 1960s. Unlike some of the more organic predecessors, these beads have come under criticism for being a source of health problems and pollution. Made from petroleum, they often harbor lead that seeps into the soil and rubs off on hands. (One estimate puts the lead deposit after a Mardi Gras celebration at 4000 pounds.) In 2017, New Orleans paid $7 million in clean-up costs to remove discarded beads from drain basins. In 2018, they installed gutter guards to prevent the necklaces from getting into the system in the first place. Meanwhile, scientists have been working to create an even more eco-friendly version of the beads—like a biodegradable version made from microalgae.

Environmental hazards aside, the beads of Mardi Gras have become as much a holiday staple as Christmas stockings or Thanksgiving turkeys. But the passion and desperate need for them is only temporary; in 2018, 46 tons of the beads were removed from just five blocks of the main parade route on Charles Street. And no bacchanal should leave that much bad juju behind.

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