weird and wacky holidays happening in May

May 23 is World Turtle Day

world turtle dayToday is World Turtle Day, a holiday created in 2000 by non-profit organization American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) to celebrate turtles and tortoises and to protect their habitats.

Susan Tellem and her husband Marshall have rescued and re-homed more than 3,000 turtles since cofounding ATR in 1990. Ten years later, they started World Turtle Day because, as Susan told the Huffington Post, “Turtles are not as popular as cats and dogs, so interest, awareness and understanding is pretty slim. This day is a good way to educate people about how to care for turtles, and to learn what danger they’re in and how to be more aware of what they need.”

The oldest turtle fossil found to date was unearthed in 2007 in China’s Guizhou province. Discovered in rocks of the late Triassic Period, it is estimated to have lived 220 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs. It is considered a transitional creature, an aquatic turtle that had armor solely on its underbelly and a mouth full of teeth, earning it the name Odontochelys semitestacea (“toothed turtle with half-shell”). By comparison, human evolution dates back a mere 2.5 million years.

While researching the connection between dinosaurs and turtles, we noticed several groups that assert the planet is, in reality, only six thousand years old. Here, one website explains how it knows fossil records have been faked:

According to evolutionists, the dinosaurs “ruled the Earth” for 140 million years, dying out about 65 million years ago. However, scientists do not dig up anything labeled with those ages. They only uncover dead dinosaurs (i.e., their bones), and their bones do not have labels attached telling how old they are. The idea of millions of years of evolution is just the evolutionists’ story about the past. No scientist was there to see the dinosaurs live through this supposed dinosaur age. In fact, there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist observed dinosaurs die. Scientists only find the bones in the here and now, and because many of them are evolutionists, they try to fit the story of the dinosaurs into their view.

The contention that fossils were not buried with labels must be correct since they died before the existence of tombstones and Post-It notes (or did they?). If a person digs into a garbage dump and finds a ham sandwich ten feet down, mightn’t he surmise, even without the benefit of scientific instrumentation, that it is older than the one his mom made for him that morning, in spite of the fact that he has unearthed it in “the here and now?”

It’s also a fact that no scientist has observed a dinosaur live or die. The logic is indisputable. We’ll go on record and say that no one alive today has ever hung out with Abraham Lincoln. Very few of us have met Stephen King. Yet most of us are pretty sure of their existence, even though they aren’t mentioned in the Bible. (We don’t want spoil the surprise, but one of them is working on a new book right now!)

But we digress. Turtles and tortoises are remarkable animals. Both are cold-blooded, breathe air and lay eggs on land. Generally speaking, tortoises live on land, are poor swimmers and have stumpy feet suited to walking very slowly on land. Turtles spend their time in the water and have streamlined bodies and webbed feet or flippers they are unable to retract.

The illegal pet trade puts tortoises at risk; transportation stresses them and many die during shipment from Russia or other far-flung locations. To combat this problem and reduce the demand for illegal imports, ART urges people to refrain from buying them at pet stores and adopt instead from one of the country’s many turtle rescue groups. Petfinder is an excellent resource, too.

All sea turtle species are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, mainly due to bycatch, accidental capture in fishermen’s nets and trawls. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studies aquatic environments, works to reduce bycatch and develops recovery plans with the goal of increasing sea turtle numbers until they can be removed from the list.

In the meantime, everyone can help by keeping the beach free of litter and watching out when boating in an area where turtles live. If you find a tortoise in the middle of the road, carry it to safety and be sure to point it in the direction it was headed. Otherwise, it will instinctively turn around and walk back into danger.

If you find a turtle and can’t release it into the wild, soak it in tepid water and put it in a box with a lid. Keep it away from pets, children and stressful noises; contact an organization like ATR to help you care for it until a pet rescue group can secure it.

If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating creatures, check out National Geographic‘s article about a newly-discovered giant Galápagos tortoise; Live Science‘s turtle facts; and Mother Nature Network‘s post about 19 weird and wonderful turtle and tortoise species.

Have a happy World Turtle Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

May 22 is World Goth Day

world goth dayToday is World Goth Day, a holiday that celebrates the global influence of the Goth subculture on music, literature and art.

Many consider the 1979 release of Bauhaus’ first single, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, to be the genesis of the gothic rock genre, although the word “goth” had been used in a musical context for over than a decade. Bauhaus’ contemporaries included Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Killing Joke and The Cure.

Goth style has evolved from influences like punk’s “anti-fashion” movement and brooding, romantic Victorian mourning clothes. It includes many looks but is most often associated with dark clothing, black hair and extreme facial pallor.

In October 2005, after the opening of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, the New York Times noted:

The costumes and ornaments are a glamorous cover for the genre’s somber themes. In the world of Goth, nature itself lurks as a malign protagonist, causing flesh to rot, rivers to flood, monuments to crumble and women to turn into slatterns, their hair streaming and lipstick askew.

A shout-out from the Gray Lady is impressive, even when it gets things wrong. (Slatterns? You wish!) Influences credited for the rise of Goth include movies from Blade Runner to Beetlejuice, artists from H.R. Giger to Salvador Dali, authors from Mary Shelley to Anne Rice. Punk, New Wave, metal, vampire stories and horror films have all contributed to or benefited from Goth culture.

U.K. deejays DJ Cruel Britannia and martin oldgoth (a lowercase rebel) created World Goth Day in 2009, when BBC 6 radio station ran a day of Goth programming. Brittania wrote of the idea, “I got it into my head that Goth Day was a good enough excuse to encourage goths to have their own Goth ‘Public Holiday’, so to speak, and celebrate what goth means to them in either their musical tastes, the books they read, or whatever part it plays in their darkly-inclined lifestyle.”

In 2015, World Goth Day was immortalized on Angry Birds Seasons The Pig Days Level 4-1. We don’t know what that pile of words means but the walkthrough looks fun. Some might find its mix of bats, jack-o-lanterns and ankh symbols offensive, but every goth or punk we’ve met has had a great, if dark, sense of humor. (Except for one. We’re talking to you, Vyvyan.)

For information on events happening near you and other good stuff, head to the holiday’s official website.  In 2016, South African band Terminatryx offered a free download of its track SleepWalkers, remixed by iRONic. The song will set you back less than a dollar but we recommend springing for the whole album. We’re partial to CONsume, remixed by Martin Degville of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. We know, we know: our Eighties are showing!

Happy World Goth Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

May 21 is Sister Maria Hummel Day

sister maria hummel day

Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel

Today is Sister Maria Hummel Day which celebrates the birth in 1909 of Berta Hummel, a German girl whose family recognized and encouraged her developing artistic talent from early childhood.

She entered Munich’s Academy of Applied Arts in 1927, at a time when few German women were able to pursue higher education. After graduating in 1931 with top honors, she chose to become a nun in the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Siessen and assumed the name of Sister Maria Innocentia.

She taught art at a school run by the convent and painted in her spare time. When the sisters noticed her portraits of children, they convinced her to let a religious publishing company print and sell them as postcards. Hummel later drew angels with gowns covered in slightly askew Stars of David and designed a symbol for the convent chapel in 1938 that united the Old and New Testaments by placing a cross behind a menorah.

In 1934, Franz Goebel, the owner of W. Goebel Porcelain Works, saw some of the postcards and was struck with the idea of rendering them in three dimensions. He approached Hummel, who didn’t want her work mass-produced as knickknacks. She acquiesced at the insistence of the convent, which gave Goebel sole rights to manufacture the figurines. Royalties from sales would help finance its good works for 80 years.

Goebel displayed them at the 1935 Leipzig Trade Fair, an international trade show. Goebel had rightly surmised that people weary of poverty and war would be attracted to sweet and innocent figurines of boys, girls, and angels. Ten years later, American soldiers would carry them home after World War II and make them popular in the United States as well.

One person who was most definitely not a fan of Hummel: Adolf Hitler. In 1937, she released a painting titled “The Volunteers,” which depicted two young, disheveled goose-stepping brownshirts with laceless boots, one of whom carried a rifle upside down. Under them, she wrote the caption, “Dear Fatherland, let there be peace!”

Nazi newspaper Der SA-Mann declared that the children Hummel painted looked like “wasserköpfige und klumpfüßige Dreckspatzen,” which loosely translates to  “hydrocephalic, club-footed goblins.” Although a more literal translation would be “water-headed, club-footed mudlarks,” we think you get the idea.

The sale of Hummel figurines was banned within Germany, but export was permitted to generate profits from foreign markets. Her publishers were denied paper supplies; galleries were forbidden to exhibit her paintings. In 1940, the sisters were kicked out of the convent so a troop of Nazi soldiers could quarter there.

sister maria hummel day

Volunteers, 1990

Forty of the 250 nuns were allowed to remain in a confined area with no heat. After three months at her childhood home, Hummel decided to return, with the blessing of the Mother Superior. Money earned from the sale of her artwork was the convent’s sole source of income.

In 1944, she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium for several months. Shortly after she returned, French troops liberated the convent. But her health worsened and she died on November 6, 1946, at the age of 37. She was buried on the convent grounds.

Although we can find no surviving print of “The Volunteers,” the story of Sister Hummel’s most provocative artwork did not end after her death. In 1990, the rifle was righted, the shirt color changed and her sad boys were cast, without irony, as cheerful patriots for a United States Desert Storm Edition.

We’re pretty sure Sister Maria Hummel would disapprove of that knickknack.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

May Ray Day

May Ray DayToday is May Ray Day. Its goal is simple. If you look out your window and it’s sunny, go outside and enjoy it. (Common sense tip: If you’re in the middle of a business meeting or driving a car, wait for a more appropriate moment to step outside.)

In our research, we were unable to determine the creator of May Ray Day. It could be someone who sells sunscreen or solar panels or who worships the sun and wants to indoctrinate others to believe in Ra, Helios, Sol, Utu or the lesser known gods of Carcinoma, Squamous and Basal Cell.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. About 86 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of other skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation. Before you head out, read these myth-busting facts from the Skin Cancer Foundation. We’ve thrown in one about tanning beds for good measure.

Myth: UVB radiation is a good source of vitamin D.

Fact: We can produce only a limited amount of vitamin D from UVB radiation. For Caucasians, that limit is reached after just five to 10 minutes of midday sun exposure. After reaching the limit, further exposure will not increase the amount of vitamin D in the body. Rather, it has the opposite effect: the vitamin D stored in the body begins to break down, leading to lower vitamin D levels. 

Myth: Sun exposure is the only source of vitamin D.

Fact: Vitamin D can be obtained from oily fish (like salmon, fresh tuna, trout and sardines) and cod liver oil, as well as from fortified orange juice and milk, yogurts, and some cereals. Supplements are readily available and inexpensive.

Myth: Tanning beds are a healthy option for boosting vitamin D levels.

Fact: The indoor tanning industry often makes the false claim that indoor tanning is helpful for vitamin D production. In reality, vitamin D is received through exposure to UVB rays; the bulbs used in tanning beds mainly emit UVA rays. Tanning beds are a known carcinogen. Just one indoor UV tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent. 

So apply a liberal amount of broad spectrum sunblock, put on your sunglasses and don a wide-brimmed hat before venturing outside. (If it’s raining, don’t worry. There are plenty of days left in May. One of them will surely be sunny.)

Sun responsibly and have a happy May Ray Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays