weird and wacky holidays happening in November

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 by the U.N. Foundation in partnership with 92Y, and is always observed on the first Tuesday of December. Following on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, symbols of excessive retail spending, Giving Tuesday encourages us to show generosity to those in need.

giving tuesday

The campaign’s creators hoped that 50 nonprofit organizations would respond by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday in their online appeals. According to Asha Curran, director of the 92Y’s Center for Innovation and Social Impact and a founding member of #GivingTuesday, “We were asking a question: Is there an appetite for something like #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, but about giving?”

The answer was a resounding yes. Over 2,500 nonprofits took part that first year. By 2014, the number of participants had expanded to include nearly 35,000 charities, civic groups, celebrities, and for-profit companies in 68 countries. In 2016, more than 6,700 nonprofit organizations participated in Giving Tuesday. The average online donation was $128, totaling $47.7 million, according to the Blackbaud Institute’s annual Charitable Giving Report.

Curran describes the event as a movement which includes many actions beyond donating money. In Watertown, NY, for example, residents have been encouraged to donate hours to help neighbors without vehicles get to medical appointments, grocery stores and other critical locations.

Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation and #GivingTuesday co-founder, attributes the event’s success to its function as a collaboration between nonprofit organizations. “It’s controlled by nobody, owned by everybody,” she says. “We’re working together to raise awareness. This includes logos, sample press releases, social media toolkits. Anything we could think of.”

Critics say the day encourages charities to send emails with the sole purpose of making a cash grab in December when 30 percent of all charitable giving would occur anyway due to the holiday season and end-of-year tax incentives, according to Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index.

Proponents point out that people who donate their time, services or money today are likely to remain involved throughout the year. Everyone is encouraged to give to groups that have impacted their lives and to share their experiences and inspirations at #MyGivingStory.

During the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to forget the value of how we spend our time, money and effort. Giving Tuesday reminds us that we can choose to spend today giving back or paying forward while saving others (and ourselves) in the process.  That’s a bargain too good to pass up.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 24 is D.B. Cooper Day

DB Cooper DayOn November 24, 1971, a man who identified himself as Dan Cooper boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. He was wearing a suit, had no discernable accent, drank bourbon and soda and smoked several cigarettes. He also handed a flight attendant an exceedingly polite note informing her he had a bomb and intended to hijack the plane.

He then held the passengers and crew hostage while he negotiated with the FBI, demanding $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. Upon landing, the ransom and parachutes were delivered and Cooper released the passengers. Three pilots and a flight attendant stayed onboard and took off from Seattle with instructions for all to stay in the cockpit and to maintain low airspeed and an altitude of 10,000 feet.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, a light went on in the cockpit to indicate that the rear stairs had been lowered. When the plane landed with the stairs down, the FBI found two parachutes and, on Cooper’s seat, a black clip-on tie. It was assumed Cooper had jumped. We call it an assumption only because the mystery surrounding what followed calls everything into question.

Cooper was never found, in spite of intense searches by ground and air. For all anyone knew, he might’ve tossed out the money, dropped the chutes and fallen into the talons of a giant bird of prey. None of the money has been spent. (It was marked.) In 1980, three bundles of bills totaling $5,800 were discovered under a couple inches of sand on the Columbia River. The serial numbers matched those on the ransom money.

To this day, theories abound but no other confirmed evidence exists. Would “Dan Cooper” be annoyed or amused that, after police interviewed a man named D.B. Cooper in the early days of the investigation, the press and public have misidentified him ever since?

Over time, the unanswered questions about this case have obscured the fact that the man was a hijacker, turning him into something of a folk hero. The legend of the well-spoken man who robbed the government and vanished into thin air fires the imagination. Is he sipping mai-tais on a beach somewhere? Is he drinking a coffee next to us in a diner?

New people are introduced to the story every year. A popular theory that the series Mad Men would end with Don Draper becoming D.B. Cooper turned out to be completely wrong but only added to the myth’s allure. Will we ever find out what really happened? Probably not; but we’ll always have the legend of (Dan) D.B. Cooper.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

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 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