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January 3 is Festival of Sleep Day

Festival of Sleep Day

Do you like slefestival of sleepeping? Of course you do! Today is Festival of Sleep Day, your perfect excuse to lock your door, turn off your devices and take a long, guilt-free nap. We don’t know who invented this holiday, but we’d like to shake his (or her) hand. We assume it was created for anyone in need of rest and relaxation after Christmas shopping and New Year’s celebrations.

 

How to Celebrate

Unlike most holidays, which revolve around parties and togetherness, Festival of Sleep Day encourages nothing more stressful than a trip to the Land of Nod, a journey that can only be enjoyed solo. Take a quick catnap or doze all day, the choice is up to you.

Note: We don’t recommend napping at work. Rest isn’t relaxing if you wake up without a job. Sleeping on a date, at the gym, on public transportation: no-nos. Same goes for operating machinery–and that includes curling irons and skateboards.

Five Fun Facts About Sleep

  1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that being tired causes the highest number of fatal single-car crashes—even more than alcohol.
  2. Sleep is a universal characteristic of complex organisms and has been observed in insects, mollusks, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals.
  3. Rats generally live from two to three years. However, those deprived of REM sleep survive only about five weeks, and rats deprived of all states of sleep live only about three weeks.
  4. Dolphins experience unihemispheric sleep; one hemisphere of the brain goes into a deep sleep while the other remains awake. This allows them to sleep under water without drowning.
  5. Dolphins spend approximately a third of their lives asleep, just like humans.

While we may share Fact #5 with dolphins, the similarities end there. We can’t sleep with only half our brains. So do yourself a favor: tune out, unplug, close the shades and take a well-deserved siesta. Have a great Festival Sleep Day.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 2 is National Buffet Day

Today is National Buffet Day. It’s about time the U.S. recognized its favorite low-impact, dangerous sport: overeating! The essential feature of the various buffet formats is that diners can view the food, immediately select the dishes they wish to consume, and can also usually decide how much food they take. Whether it has a chocolate fountain or a sneeze guard, there’s a buffet for everybody.

National Buffet Day

In 1946, Herb McDonald introduced the $1.00 all-you-can-eat buffet at El Rancho Vegas, the first hotel-casino on what would become the famous Las Vegas Strip. The low price brought people in to be ensnared by the games. It also kept hungry gamblers from leaving the casino at all.

national buffet day

The publicist’s idea was a hit. It became a feature of every casino that followed and continues to be the best “deal” in Las Vegas. With varying levels of excess–Las Vegas steam tables are a modern bacchanal–the buffet caught on across the United States.

It conjures a uniquely American image of obese families trundling along a seemingly endless line, clutching plates, resolute in their determination to wring value from the proprietors by eating as much as they possibly can. Otherwise, they’re not just getting ripped off; they’re facilitating it.

 The History of Buffet Day

The buffet table dates back to the 16th-century Swedish brännvinsbord, or Schnapps table. Despite the name, it also included bread, cheese, fish, sausages, etc.

In the 19th century, the brännvinsbord turned into the smörgåsbord, a table where guests gathered for a pre-dinner drink and light meal; it was not part of the formal dinner to follow. The smörgåsbord was often held in separate rooms for men and women before the dinner was served.

Smörgåsbord became internationally known as “smorgasbord” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibition. The Swedish Pavilion had a restaurant called The Three Crowns that included a revolving smorgasbord. Removing accents was meant to make the word less confusing to visitors.

Sometime in the mid 20th century, buffet, yet another table–this time a French sideboard–nudged out smorgasbord as the most popular term for the meal. Since then the offerings have expanded along with our waistlines.

How to Celebrate National Buffet Day

There’s only one rule to follow when celebrating this holiday: Consume! Whether you celebrate Swedish tradition by drinking a bit of schnapps and finger food or celebrate the American Way by strapping on a feedbag, have a happy National Buffet Day!

Remember to save room for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on February 4, National Jerky Day on June 12, Eat an Extra Dessert Day on September 4, National Cream-Filled Donut Day on September 14, and International Beer & Pizza Day on October 9. Bon appétit!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

International Sweater Vestival

Today is the International Sweater Vestival, also known as Sweater Vestival or the Festival of Sweater Vests. Always occurring on the first Friday of December—identified by some as the second Friday after Thanksgiving—it celebrates the sartorial splendor inherent in the collective donning of sweater vests.

The first known mention of “Sweater Vestival” occurred in 2008 when Carolyn Johnson interviewed the holiday’s creator for the Boston Globe. Who is this mysterious genius? Is it Johnson herself? Perhaps fearing scandal, Johnson isn’t telling; one might say she’s playing her cards close to the vest. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Q: Why should I wear a vest? Isn’t this a made-up holiday?

A: It certainly is made-up, and that is exactly why you should take part. All holidays are made-up – a collective recognition of some person or historic event or cause. These can range from the sincere to the ironic to the nonsensical. In apparent seriousness, for example, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm established Narcolepsy Awareness Day on March 9. A more arch holiday is 11/11, set aside for the Corduroy Appreciation Club to “hail the wale.” Name your cause and there’s a day: International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19), World Wide Knit in Public Day (the second Saturday in June), or National Boss Day (Oct. 16).

The purity of a holiday’s origins tends to get buried in the commercial detritus that blossoms in the middle aisle of local drugstores. So understand that the Sweater Vestival is a nascent holiday – a rare opportunity to get in on the ground level of a holiday, before manufacturers are churning out tiny, edible, foil-wrapped vests.

[Editor’s note: seen on store shelves since 2015]

Sweater Vestival Day

tiny, edible foil-wrapped vests

 

More importantly, it is not a holiday about historical figures or causes or ideals: It is about all the other people who wear the vest.

Q: Can you tell me more about the holiday’s origins?

A: The second Friday after Thanksgiving is a lull in a jam-packed holiday season and a perfect day for people to continue the holiday cheer with something subtle yet uplifting. Unlike other faux holidays – such as Festivus, which first appeared on the sitcom “Seinfeld” as a protest against holiday-season commercialism – Vestival is not a joke at all. It also happens to be funny.

Q: Why is Vestival important?

A: On a superficial level, Sweater Vestival isn’t about something “deep.” In contrast, on a superficial level most other holidays are: Veterans Day is about the serious topic of honoring soldiers who have fought in wars to protect this country. President’s Day salutes our forefathers. Valentine’s Day is about love. But if you look beneath the surface, Valentine’s Day is more about candy and overpriced bouquets. Presidents’ Day has become synonymous with sales at car dealerships, and many people see Veterans Day as just another day off, not an opportunity to consider wars and the weight of history.

Despite its seemingly shallow artifice, though, Vestival carries unusual depth. People wearing vests smile at each other in recognition, discuss the origins of their vests, or give each other compliments. At a time when people can feel more alone than ever, wearing a sweater vest is a reason to connect.

What are you waiting for? Grab those thrift store finds; gifts from Christmas past languishing in the back of your closet; or any sweater you have the urge to liberate of its sleeves. (Common sense advice: obtain permission before wielding the scissors if the aforementioned sweater belongs to someone else.)

Embrace the cold shoulder(s) and have a happy International Sweater Vestival!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 30 is Perpetual Youth Day

Today is Perpetual Youth Day, always celebrated on November 30th in honor of Dick Clark’s birthday. Although he’d been born in 1929, Clark appeared to age very little during the five decades of his career, earning him the nickname of “America’s oldest teenager.”

In 1957, Clark hosted a local Philadelphia television show called Bandstand, which he pitched to ABC as cheap, easy afternoon programming that would appeal to youth. The network, perennially in third place, was desperate to capture that demographic. On August 5, 1957, American Bandstand premiered to a national audience. It was an instant hit.perpetual youth day

Clark hosted the show for thirty years, giving many bands their first U.S. TV appearances. Among the diverse artists he introduced to American audiences were Aretha Franklin, Madonna, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner, Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, Barry Manilow, Adam and the Ants, Kim Carnes, Blondie, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Grace Jones, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Prince.

The clean-cut, “square” host sometimes made music history. According to American Bandstand Timeline, on August 6, 1960:

When scheduled guest Hank Ballard and the Midnighters fail to show up to perform their hit R&B song “The Twist,” Clark convinces friend Chubby Checker to go into the studio quickly and cut a soundalike version in half an hour. Demonstrating the dance on TV, Chubby gets an instant #1 hit and sets off the nationwide “dance craze” that would last the better part of two years.

On January 6, 1979:

Dick Clark develops a series of moves for the audience to perform while the Village People’s new song is debuted on Bandstand. The group goes along with the idea, and the “YMCA” dance is born.

Not every appearance was destined to become a classic. All guests on American Bandstand were required to “mime” their songs. It was fairly obvious from the lack of wires and amplifiers onstage that bands were simply going through the motions.

In late 1967, Pink Floyd’s frontman Syd Barrett refused to lip-sync “Arnold Layne,” staring into the camera instead with a look that would later come to represent his descent into madness. The group canceled its first U.S. tour.

The Talking Heads debuted on American television on March 17, 1979, singing “Take Me to the River” and “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel.” Although they were reportedly unhappy about having to mime, American Bandstand was an opportunity too good to refuse.

First, Clark apologized for pronouncing Tina Weymouth’s name incorrectly, then launched into an interview of David Byrne, who looked embarrassed and gave monosyllabic replies. Clark then turned back to Tina and asked, “Is he always this enthusiastic?” She replied, “I guess he’s organically shy.” It didn’t get any better. One imagines everyone was praying for the next commercial break.

Public Image Ltd. appeared on the show on May 3, 1980. Here’s how lead singer John Lydon, formerly known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, described the experience in his autobiography, Anger is An Energy.

It all got off on the wrong foot when we arrived and they suddenly informed us that it would be a mimed thing. Our equipment hadn’t arrived in time, apparently, but we soon got even more upset when they said, ‘Oh no, you couldn’t play it live anyway, just mime to the record.’

They’d made up some edited versions of “Poptones” and “Careering,” and gave us a cassette to check it out beforehand. ‘Oh my God, they’ve cut it down to that? I don’t know where the vocals are going to drop. What are we supposed to do?’ None of us knew. Just thinking about trying to sing it like the record was…aarghh! You can fake it with an instrument but you can’t as the singer. ‘Okay, so you’ve cut out the point and purpose, it’s like removing the chorus from the National Anthem, just because it makes for an allotted time slot on a TV show. That’s arse-backways!’

Lydon solved the problem by barely making an effort to lip-sync the first song. He pushed people around in the audience, pulling some onto the stage as they squealed and clutched at him as if he were a rude, sullen Beatle.

Between songs, Clark attempted to be a good sport, inviting the rest of the audience onstage. On “Careering,” Lydon abandoned any pretense of miming the words and began wandering around the stage, giving his mic away and snorting nasal spray on-camera. Needless to say, the band was not invited back.

American Bandstand was not Dick Clark’s only claim to fame. In 1959, he hosted a forty-nine-day road show called Caravan of Stars that traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada and featured Bo Diddley, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Annette Funicello and Chuck Berry, backed by a seventeen-piece orchestra.

He hosted the Dick Clark Show (1958-60) and Where the Action Is (1965-67), produced and/or hosted TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes (on-and-off, in one form or other, from 1984-2012) and guest-starred on Perry Mason in 1966, Adam-12 in 1972, and appeared twice as himself in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1994, 1996) and once on Dharma & Greg (2002). He also owned several restaurant chains and had the dubious distinction of being questioned by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine about refusing to pay food workers a living wage.

perpetual youth day

He founded dick clark productions (dcp) in 1957, now the world’s largest owner and producer of events such as Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Miss America and weekly programs such as So You Think You Can Dance. dcp also owns a large archive spanning more than fifty-five years of award-winning shows, specials, performances and historical programs.

Dick Clark hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from January 1, 1974, through January 1, 2004. Clark suffered a stroke on December 8, 2004, and Regis Philbin stepped in as guest host. Despite initial reports that the stroke had been minor, it resulted in dysarthria, a disorder which affects the muscles that help produce speech, making it very difficult to pronounce words. It doesn’t interfere with cognitive understanding of language but can lead to impairment of intelligibility and audibility of basic vocal communication.

The stroke also caused partial paralysis and Clark had to learn to walk and talk again. It was assumed his career as a broadcaster was over. But he was back to ring in 2006 with Ryan Seacrest, whom he’d chosen as his successor. Some found it uncomfortable and even depressing to watch Clark struggle to make himself understood.  Others, particularly those who’d had a stroke and spent hours every day fighting to regain speech and movement, cheered him on, hailing him as an inspiration.

perpetual youth day

Though his role had dwindled to figurehead status, Dick Clark never missed the rebranded Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest and helped the nation usher in 2012 before his death on April 18th of that year, caused by a massive heart attack during prostate surgery.

Perhaps Perpetual Youth Day is a misnomer given its dedication to a man who has shuffled off this mortal coil. But maybe it’s the perfect way to describe a person who introduced generations of kids to rock’n’roll while setting parents at ease. If a nice young(ish) man like Dick Clark thought it was okay to give airtime to Run DMC (Jam Master Jammin’), Prince (I Wanna Be Your Lover), Dokken (Just Got Lucky), Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit), The Doors (Light My Fire) and Psychedelic Furs (Heaven), then it had to be okay, right?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays