weird and wacky holidays happening in November

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

November 17 is National Unfriend Day

On November 17, 2010, comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel inaugurated National Unfriend Day with an advisory about fairweather Facebook friends.

Test them by asking for help with a move, he said. The people who respond are your friends. No one else. He capped off the proceedings with a public service announcement by William Shatner.

According to data from a 2014 Edison Research report, 58% of Americans are on Facebook and have an average of 350 Facebook friends. A holiday begun as a lark has never been more relevant.

In 2016, Kimmel asked his audience to post on his Facebook page who they had unfriended and why:

Happy National Unfriend Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 16 is National Button Day

National Button DayNational Button Day

Today is National Button Day. How did it get its start and why should we celebrate it? We use this humble fastener every day but how much do we really know about it?

National Button Day may never have existed were it not for Otto Lightner, publisher of Hobbies magazine, who democratized collecting during the Great Depression when he said, “Even with no money, everyone could collect something.” He became fascinated by other people’s collections, amassing them and buying real estate for the sole purpose of housing them. (The Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida, exhibits a few.)

Lightner organized a hobby show in 1938 at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago. Button collectors contributed to the show and founded the National Button Society (NBS) later that year. On November 16, 1939, NBS hosted its own event in Chicago to recognize button collecting as an organized hobby that anyone, rich or poor, could enjoy and declared it National Button Day.

Today, NBS  has more than 3,000 members on four continents, with 39 of the 50 states represented by state and local button clubs. Per its website:

Membership in the National Button Society is open to individuals and organizations who collect buttons and who wish to support the objectives of the NBS. Principal among those objectives are the promotion of educational research and exhibitions, the publishing and dissemination of information about buttons, and the preservation of the aesthetic and historical significance of buttons for future generations.

NBS holds a weeklong convention every August. In 2016, “Mining in Button Mountains” paid homage to its host city of Denver, Colorado.  Organizers chose “The Magic of Buttons” as the theme for the 2017 celebration in Appleton, Wisconsin. Each year, collectors meet to share finds, stories, craft ideas and fellowship.

national button dayNational Button Day

Do you have what it takes to join? The answer is yes. Every one of us can enjoy collecting buttons. Look around your home. Maybe you still have buttons that belonged to your grandmother. Have you ever noticed that while buttons may not be appreciated, they are rarely thrown out? You probably have a container sitting around right now.

A Brief History of the Button

The earliest known button was found in what is now Pakistan; it is made of a curved shell and is about 5000 years old. In ancient Rome, buttons were ornamental and rarely appeared in straight rows. Beginning in the Middle Ages, buttons became status symbols made of precious metals and stones. The number of buttons one wore communicated wealth.

The first guild of button-makers was formed in France in 1250. The buttonhole appeared around the same time but didn’t catch on right away. Most buttons remained strictly decorative, applied atop a garment while functional underpinnings such as the hook-and-eye and laces did the actual work of holding clothes together.

Even after the buttonhole helped forever change fashion design, many buttons were nonfunctional. There is a rumor about the origin of the seemingly useless line of buttons along the sleeves of coats and jackets, especially military uniforms.

According to legend, one of three leaders–Catherine the Great, King Frederick I of Prussia or Admiral Lord Nelson–inspected the troops (in Nelson’s case, the sailors) and ordered that buttons be sewn onto uniforms to discourage the young men from wiping their noses on their sleeves. Pockets weren’t yet features of most uniforms, so carrying a handkerchief was not a viable alternative. We’re loath to picture the scene of soldiers going off to battle with mucus streaming down their faces.

Over the years, buttons became increasingly ornate. Among the more extreme were “habitat” buttons, made to hold keepsakes like dried flowers, hair clippings or tiny insects under glass. Hollowed-out buttons allowed thieves to secretly transport jewels and other contraband. (This practice was revived unsuccessfully by a heroin-smuggling ring in 2009.)

Button orientation was formalized during the Victorian Era. Then as now, men tended to dress themselves so buttons faced right for their convenience.  Women wore their buttons on the left to make it easier for their maids to adjust while facing them.  (The presumption was that most people were right-handed.)

The servants are gone, but the convention remains. Right-handed women and left-handed men successfully button their clothes every day without giving a thought to the discrimination that decided their sartorial fate.

Go Forth and Button!

Now that you know more, it’s time to go round up some buttons. Check out these craft ideas for inspiration and have a happy and fun National Button Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays