30 Offbeat Holidays to Celebrate in September

101cats/iStock via Getty Images
101cats/iStock via Getty Images

Even after Labor Day has come and gone, there is still plenty to celebrate in September, as the list of holidays below proves. And if nothing in here catches your fancy, just remember that September is also Happy Cat Month.

1. September 3: National Skyscraper Day

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Celebrate the architectural triumphs that make the skyline of your city unique by paying tribute to oversized buildings. This day coincides with the birthday of Louis Sullivan, the influential architect who helped develop and advance the skyscraper movement in the late 19th century.

2. September 4: Bring Your Manners To Work Day

Whatever it is you do, do it politely. (Even if it’s via Zoom this year.)

3. September 4: Eat an Extra Dessert Day

You may have observed this holiday a little early on Labor Day, but go ahead and indulge those residual gluttonous impulses because this holiday gives you the green light. That leftover pie isn’t going to eat itself, so really, it’s the least you can do.

4. September 4: Newspaper Carrier Day

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This day honors Barney Flaherty, who was hired as the first paperboy for the New York Sun way back in 1833. (International Newspaper Carrier Day, meanwhile, is happening on October 10.)

5. September 5: Cheese Pizza Day

No frills, just deliciousness.

6. September 5: Be Late For Something Day

While a lot of people don't need an excuse to be late, here’s a day for all you punctual types out there to cut loose and be tardy for once.

7. September 6: National Fight Procrastination Day

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One of these years we're going to get around to celebrating.

8. September 7: Neither Rain Nor Snow Day

September 7 is the anniversary of the opening of the New York Post Office in 1914, and the name of the holiday comes from the inscription on the building: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

9. September 10: TV Dinner Day

The TV dinner was first introduced to consumers in the United States by C.A. Swanson & Sons in the early 1950s. This pre-packaged, frozen meal would not only provide you a whole dinner with the slight flick of an oven—it was also designed for ease of consumption while parked in front of a television screen.

10. September 10: Swap Ideas Day

This is less of a celebration and more of a reminder to not hoard good ideas: They're much more useful when you put them out into the open.

11. September 13: Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day

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Just maybe don't be so quick to eat what they make (or keep a close eye on how they’re preparing it).

12. September 13: Grandparents Day

Mom and dad get one, so why not the older generation? Grandparents Day has been celebrated annually on the first Sunday after Labor Day since 1978. Many other countries have their own versions of this day at some point during the year and, unlike the U.S., they often give grandmothers and grandfathers their own separate days. Just something to think about.

13. September 13: National Hug Your Hound Day

If you don't have a hound of your own to hug, looking at photos of other people hugging their hounds is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

14. September 16: World Play-Doh Day

Ekaterina79/iStock via Getty Images

Today's the perfect day to do something with your favorite childhood clay! It's OK with us if you mostly just smell it.

15. September 16: Mayflower Day

This is the anniversary of the day in 1620 when 102 men, women, and children set sail from Plymouth, England, aboard the Mayflower.

16. September 16: Anne Bradstreet Day

September 16 was officially proclaimed a holiday by the governor of Massachusetts to honor Anne Bradstreet, an underappreciated figure in the history of American literature. Bradstreet, who emigrated to the colonies along with her family in 1630, is considered to be America's first poet for her 1650 work, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, published, supposedly, without her knowledge.

17. September 17: Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was officially signed—although it wasn't voted into effect until two years later. Since 1952, Citizenship Day has also been celebrated on September 17.

18. September 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day just might be the most widely-known offbeat holiday, because who doesn't relish the chance to call everyone matey?

19. September 21: World Gratitude Day

In 1977, those hippies at the United Nations Meditation Group established World Gratitude Day to appreciate existence. Even the least existential among us can recognize a thing or two in our lives for which we feel grateful. For example, we here at Mental Floss are grateful that you’re still reading this article.

20. September 22: Elephant Appreciation Day

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This ode to oversized pachyderms was created by Mission Media Inc. founder Wayne Hepburn in 1996. Years before, his daughter had given him an elephant paperweight that led to a lifelong obsession with the animals, which eventually culminated in the creation of this holiday.

21. September 22: American Business Women's Day

First recognized by Congressional resolution in 1983, this honoring of the female half of the workforce is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the 1949 founding date of the American Business Women's Association.

22. September 22: Hobbit Day

On the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, J.R.R. Tolkien fans celebrate all things The Lord of the Rings. It is also the day that determines the larger celebration of Tolkien Week.

23. September 22: Dear Diary Day

Get reacquainted with your diary … and penmanship … and maybe some feelings.

24. September 22: National Centenarian’s Day

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock via Getty Images

We realize that the people above probably aren't centenarians, but we bet they'll be just as fun and active when they are.

25. September 24: National Punctuation Day

Let the Oxford comma debates begin!

26. September 25: National One-Hit Wonder Day

Get your playlist started now.

27. September 26: Johnny Appleseed Day

Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

There is some debate about whether this American folklore hero should be celebrated on the anniversary of his birth on September 26, or on the anniversary of his death in March. But this is a celebration, after all, so let's stick with his birthday.

28. September 28th: Drink Beer Day

Finally, an excuse.

29. September 29: International Coffee Day

We won't talk to you before you've celebrated this one.

30. September 29: Biscotti Day

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Surely it's no coincidence that this falls on the same day as International Coffee Day, and that's why we love the offbeat holiday gods.

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32

UncommonGoods

Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20

Amazon

People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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How Gangsters and the Media Helped Make Trick or Treating a Halloween Tradition

Criminal behavior was seen as an inspiration for trick or treating in the 1930s.
Criminal behavior was seen as an inspiration for trick or treating in the 1930s.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

On Halloween night in 1934, a scene played out in Helena, Montana, that the local newspaper, the Helena Independent, related as though it were a scene out of a mafia confrontation [PDF]. A group of teenagers roughly 15 to 16 years old knocked on a woman’s door and asserted they were there for the purposes of trick or treating. When the woman refused their request, they opted for a third outcome—property damage. The kids smashed her birdbath.

The paper identified the group’s “leader” as “Pretty Boy” John Doe, a nod to Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, a notorious gangster who had been killed in a police shootout just two weeks before. In media and in the minds of kids, the then-novel practice of trick or treating on Halloween was not quite innocent fun. It was emblematic of the public’s infatuation with civil disobedience and organized crime, and it would take no lesser positive influences than Donald Duck and Charlie Brown to make adults believe Halloween wasn’t merely a training ground for America’s youth to become hoodlums.

 

Trick or treating is a relatively new phenomenon in North America. The concept of going door to door and requesting candy on Halloween was virtually unheard-of prior to the 1920s, though it did have antecedents in ancient history. In the Middle Ages, following the Catholic Church’s re-appropriation of Celtic celebrations, kids would dress as saints, angels, and demons in what was known as “guising,” from “disguising.” These cloaked figures would go from one door to the next, requesting food or money in exchange for singing their benefactors a song or praying. This solicitation was known as “souling,” and children and poor adults who engaged in it were known as “soulers.”

Scottish and Irish immigrants likely brought guising over to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Around the same time, kids were in the habit of dressing up for other holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, and requesting money. When costumed events for Halloween became more prevalent and citywide celebrations were organized to help discourage kids from playing pranks, private groups began planning door-to-door visits in the 1920s. That’s when the disparate elements of costumes, mild pranks like ringing a doorbell and then running off, and getting treats all converged, seemingly taking a more sinister turn.

Early trick or treating was serious business.Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Writing in the American Journal of Play in 2011 [PDF], author Samira Kawash took a closer look at the rise in popularity of trick or treating and the seeming glorification of organized crime figures during the economically turbulent period of the 1930s. It’s little coincidence, Kawash wrote, that kids began to approach trick or treating as a form of extortion just as antiheroes achieved infamy in newspapers. The media reflected this influence, often writing of pranks in breathless terms. The threat of soaping windows if targets didn’t pay up in the form of treats was nothing more than a juvenile version of a mobster offering “protection” to a shopkeeper. Demands for candy could be considered a “shakedown.” The treats were “edible plunder.” Roving groups of costumed kids were “goon squads.” Some kids even bypassed requests for candy and demanded money instead.

In some parts of the country, the idea of making a choice between handing out food or suffering from a “trick” was new. In Beatrice, Nebraska, in 1938, a group of young boys told local police chief Paul Acton about their success. “We knock on the door,” one said, “and ask if they’d rather give us a treat, or have us dump over the garbage pail. Boy, have we been eating!”

The media took a critical approach to this new tradition, warning readers that such activities could be creating the criminals of tomorrow. Not everyone responded kindly to it, either. In Brooklyn, a school principal responded to a trick or treat offer by slapping a child across the face after he was admonished by a tyke to “hand it over or else.” Trick or treating had morphed from a pitiable request for charity to a sneering threat of property destruction in lieu of a candy bar.

 

Trick or treating began to lose some of its edge during World War II, when sugar rationing disrupted the entire concept of Halloween and vandalizing homes seemed especially cruel considering the global threat to democracy. In Reno, Nevada, in 1942, a school superintendent named E.O. Vaughn told principals and teachers to caution kids against knocking on doors, both because of the war and because it had a “tinge of gangsterism.” By the time candy had resumed normal production and the nation was no longer mired in war or a financial crisis, it had settled into something mostly innocent. (But not totally without mischief. In 1948, local police in Dunkirk, New York, advised adults to phone them when a group of kids was spotted so cops could “round up the children.”)

By the 1950s, trick or treating was less about property damage and more about having fun with friends.Joe Clark, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Helping restore the reputation of trick or treating were two familiar icons in popular culture. In 1951, Charles Schulz drew a series of Peanuts comic strips that featured Charlie Brown and his friends going door to door. (Peppermint Patty uses Charlie Brown’s head as inspiration for her pumpkin carving.) The strip, read by millions of people daily, normalized the practice. So did Trick or Treat, a 1952 Donald Duck cartoon that was released theatrically and featured Donald caught in a battle of tricks with nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

Further legitimizing the practice of demanding treats was the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, which provided boxes for kids to collect their sugary bounty as well as request spare change. The effort eventually raised $175 million and returned trick or treating to its more charitable origins.

Although Halloween has settled into a widely understood arrangement in which candy is distributed without any overt threat of birdbath-bashing, not everyone has abandoned the brute force aspects of the 1930s. According to data compiled by GateHouse Media and taken from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, there were 19,900 acts of vandalism on October 31 over a 10-year period from 2009 to 2018. Only New Year’s Day was more eventful, with 21,000 acts committed in the same timeframe. For many, Halloween is a time to collect treats. For others, it remains the season for tricks.