Monkey Day was started in 2000 when Michigan State University art student Casey Sorrow scribbled “Monkey Day” on a friend’s calendar. When the day (December 14) arrived, Sorrow and his buddies were inspired to don costumes, mimic baboon cries and otherwise imitate a bunch of monkeys.
That day a tradition was born. What may have begun as a salute to evolution, an antidote to December’s traditional holidays, an excuse to dress up and act like fools, or all of the above has become a popular holiday throughout the world.
Why? “Everybody loves monkeys,” Sorrow explains. “Monkeys are great — they make people smile. There are no bad monkeys.”
Monkey Day is especially appreciated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom. Activists organize auctions and educational events to draw public attention to issues concerning animal rights and protection of monkeys. Individuals are encouraged to celebrate by hosting costume parties and competitions.
Humans have long been fascinated with simians and entertained by TV and movie fare such as King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Curious George, Donkey Kong, Grape Ape, Magilla Gorilla and the overlords in Planet of the Apes. Read about other fictive and real-world examples including Koko, Ham, Lucy, Bubbles and Nim Chimpsky on ape-o-naut.org’s Famous Monkeys Through History.)
We know what you’re thinking: Monkeys aren’t apes. Why do apes show up on Monkey Day? The site’s creators explain:
Because they are not a single coherent group, monkeys do not have any particular traits that they all share and are not shared with the remaining group of simians, the apes, we here at the Monkey Day website feel it wouldn’t be proper to exclude all primates from the joy of Monkey Day just because they swing on a different branch of the evolutionary tree. So, yes, occasionally you may see non-monkey simians invading and celebrating Monkey Day.
Why are we so drawn to simians in general? “Probably because we come from monkeys,” says artist and Monkey Day celebrant Carl Oxley III. “Plus, they’re funny as hell.”
Today, why not act like a monkey, dress like a monkey and encourage your friends to do so, too? Monkey Day will be more fun than a barrel of, well, you know.