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Black Friday

black fridayToday is called Black Friday because it’s said to be the day that retailers can finally mark their ledgers with black ink instead of red; that is, they begin to turn a profit.

Black Friday suffers from mission creep: it starts earlier every year. While you’d think that having a particular day in the name would hem it in a bit, you’d be wrong. It used to begin at the open of business on Friday morning. Men and women would shake off their food hangovers, don sweatpants with stretchy waistbands, and join the scrum of fellow bargain hunters.

Stores began opening at midnight—still technically Friday—and shoppers left their families after Thanksgiving dinner to line up and get the best deals. Then they started to open on Thursday afternoon, if they’d ever closed at all. (Pity the poor retail employee who must try to referee an actual prize fight.)

Television commercials trumpet “Black Friday Week” and we’re bombarded with emails telling us “Black Friday is here!” a week in advance. While we understand the sale refers to a quirk of accounting, could we at least call the other days something else? Purple Wednesday has a nice ring, doesn’t it?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 23 is TARDIS Day

On November 23, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of its new science fiction series about a mysterious man and his time machine. (Why did it look like a British police box? Because its chameleon circuit jammed after it landed in 1960s England, of course.)

TARDIS DayNo one could have predicted that Doctor Who would go on to be the longest-running science fiction television show in history. The original pilot was deemed unwatchable, scrapped and reshot, delaying the premiere by a week.

By the time the retooled episode, An Unearthly Child, made it to air on November 23, 1963, it was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy, which had occurred the day before.

But Doctor Who eventually found an audience, especially after the introduction of the Daleks. More than half a century later, it is still popular with millions of loyal viewers. William Hartnell was the First Doctor to hop aboard the TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

From the start, it was established that a Gallifreyan Time Lord can only regenerate twelve times. That would have made Peter Capaldi the last. Some fans insist the rule was nullified during Matt Smith’s tenure. Others maintain that John Hurt’s character was the forgotten regeneration between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, which meant Capaldi was the Thirteenth Doctor.

It would seem the debate has been settled by Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer, who announced, “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.” The canon-busting season will begin airing in the autumn of 2018.

We celebrate TARDIS Day because Doctor Who continues to entertain us with its steadily expanding universe, at once strange and strangely familiar. It’s also created a legion of Whovians, fans who seek each other out, bond over their love of the show and debate about who is the best Doctor, the worst villain, or even how many Doctors Who there have been.

Find some great ways to celebrate TARDIS Day here. Find the Doctor Who episode that fell on your birthday on Tardis.com. Catch up on Doctor Who on Netflix. (Then learn about efforts to recover lost episodes discarded by the BBC.)

Happy TARDIS Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 22 is Start Your Own Country Day

Today is Start Your Own Country Day. According to legend, it was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City with the intention of honoring “those free-spirited souls who dared to hope and believe in a better world where they too could declare any land their own.”

start your own country

We’ve been unable to confirm that account. No matter its origin, Start Your Own Country Day promotes awareness that, within certain parameters, it is possible to form a micronation.

That might sound appealing to anyone who is unhappy about the outcome of a recent election but doesn’t want to move to Canada because it’s too cold up there and packing is a miserable task.

But there is more involved than not paying taxes and designing a fun yet meaningful flag. The new nation must provide and maintain roads, power, emergency services, sewage treatment and waterworks as well as telecommunications infrastructure and Internet service.

The 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States declared that a nation requires four things to exist: a permanent population, defined territory, government and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.

Let’s take a look at two people who’ve pursued their dreams of telling the whole world, “You’re not the boss of me!”

The Republic of Kugelmugel

start your own country day

Lack of building permits for construction of a spherical house turned Edwin Lipburger from an artist to dissident and president of his one-man nation, bordered on all sides by Vienna, Austria, but independent of it. The house itself contained the country of Kugelmugel and its sole inhabitant.

Lipburger was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison for refusing to pay taxes and, among other things, printing his own stamps. Public sympathy for the artist persuaded the Austrian president to pardon him and halt demolition of his house.

Lipburger now lives in exile in Vienna, while his structure has been relocated to the nearby Wiener Prater amusement park, where it has become a tourist attraction. Though barbed wire surrounds the Republic of Kugelmugel, it is still possible to get a glimpse of the spherical nation by looking through the fence.

The Principality of Hutt River

start your own country

Prince Leonard seceded from Australia on April 21st, 1970, founding the Principality of Hutt River as part of an agricultural protest. The sovereign state claims to pay no taxes but donates an equivalent sum to the Australian government each year, which apparently doesn’t care what Leonard writes in the memo line as long as it gets the check.

Like the Republic of Kugelmugel, the Principality of Hutt River issues its own stamps. It also mints coins, prints banknotes and sells commemorative teaspoons, cufflinks, postcards, magnets, tie clips, letter openers and other items online and on location.

What this nation has going for it is its size. Situated 595 kilometers north of Perth, it covers about 75 square kilometers for a total of 18,500 acres of land, roughly the size of Hong Kong. Even if the UN doesn’t recognize the country’s presence, Google does. The Principality of Hutt River is one of the few micronations that shows up on Google Maps.

Visitors pay a small fee and have their passports stamped upon arrival, but there’s no departure tax. Prince Leonard says he hosts thousands of tourists each year. Hutt River’s campground accommodations have been described as “rustic.” TripAdvisor rated it “#737 of 1,035 things to do in Western Australia.”

If you’d like to take a tour of these countries, check out Micronations: the Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations, the only travel guide of its kind. It was published in 2006, so it pays to call ahead for current travel information if you’re planning a visit to, say, Molossia, which has been at war with East Germany since 1983 and pegs its currency to the value of Pillsbury cookie dough.

If you’re feeling inspired, check out this handy online guide to starting a micronation, complete with Model Constitutional Code. Whether you choose to celebrate today by creating a new country, traveling to one or just relaxing at home, have a happy Start Your Own Country Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 21 is World Hello Day

world hello day

November 21st is World Hello Day, also known as Greet Ten People for Peace. It was founded in 1973 by brothers Brian and Michael McCormack, university students at the time,  in response to the Yom Kippur War.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate the importance of personal communication to preserving peace,” Michael McCormack later explained. They wrote to world leaders, asking them to support the new holiday. To date, they have received 83 letters of support from world leaders, Nobel Prize winners, authors and entertainers. Citizens in 180 countries have taken part in World Hello Day.

world hello day

Anyone can participate in World Hello Day. The McCormack brothers’ goal was that everyone say hello to ten strangers to encourage dialogue, understanding and friendship between people of diverse backgrounds.

world hello day

Around the globe, people use World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their desire for unity and peace.  With a simple greeting, they send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use diplomacy rather than force to settle conflicts. The occasion helps each person realize he or she is an instrument of change and can contribute to creating a more inclusive society.

Each time you say hello to a stranger, your heart acknowledges over and over again that we are all family. — Suzy Kassem

Happy World Hello Day! Get out there and say hi to some friends you haven’t met yet.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays