12 obscure but awesome holidays to celebrate with your kids

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0-holidaysToday for St. Patrick’s Day my kids are gorging on gold (chocolate) coins and green Gatorade that they found at the end of the rainbow (glitter). I’m a pretty pathetic mom when it comes to crafts — I could devote an entire website to my Pinterest failures — but I do love the idea of making ordinary days special with a little low-key, inexpensive celebration. It’s a fun way to break up the monotony of discipline and diaper changing, an easy method for infusing magic into everyday life.

because-I-said-so-goldIf you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, you should know that every month has a Day. For example, January 12 is Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day, but also Pharmacist Day, according to the Holiday Insights website. So, after a little research, here are 12 fun and obscure holidays you can celebrate (inexpensively, easily!) with your children:

January 19: National Popcorn Day. (This day is not to be confused with October’s National Popcorn Month. Hey, Americans love popcorn.) Make your favorite popcorn balls and host a movie party. Sing the Latter-day Saint children’s song “Popcorn Popping.”  If you want to go all out, you can read facts about popcorn and download popcorn coloring pages at www.popcorn.org.

February 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day. Start the day off with the first random act of kindness: Make your kids their favorite breakfast. After school, ask each child to come up with one nice gesture you can do as a family, then devote the rest of the day to making the world a better place.

March 14: Pi Day: Instill a love of math and baked goods in your children by celebrating the mathematical concept of pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159. The holiday is celebrated on, fittingly, 3/14. (Get it?) While there is only one Pi, there can be many pies to celebrate this important mathematical constant with your kids.

April 27: Tell a Story Day: This is a great, easy way to teach your children about tall tales. (If you live in Utah, you can also prep them for the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival timpfest.org in August.) Buy your kids each a notebook and ask them to write a short story. At night, have a family party with fairy tale food (you could make a gingerbread man or decorate candy houses from “Hansel and Gretel”) and ask each family member to tell his or her story.

May 4: Star Wars Day: May the Fourth be with you! Celebrate the blockbuster movie franchise “Star Wars” by drinking Yoda Soda (lime sherbet mixed with lemon-lime soda) and making light sabers out of pool noodles and duct tape. (Cut red, green or blue pool noodles in half and use silver and black duct tape to fashion the handles.) And, of course, screen your favorite “Star Wars” movie to cap off the night.

June 21: Summer Solstice: The longest day of the year should also be the happiest, so celebrate all things summer with a water party (run through the hose, get out the slip ‘n’ slide, have a water balloon war) and popsicles. Soak up the sun and wear plenty of sunscreen.

July 10: Teddy Bear Picnic Day: This holiday is more widely celebrated in Europe and Canada, but it’s based on an early-1900s song by American composer John Walter Bratton. Let’s take the holiday back, and use it as an excuse to dine in the great outdoors with our children and their beloved stuffed animals.

Aug. 30: Toasted Marshmallow Day: Summer is winding down, so use this “holiday” as an excuse to have an epic marshmallow roast. Kick things up a notch by making s’mores with peanut butter cups or peppermint patties instead of chocolate bars. For the ultimate indulgence, make S’moreos by pairing a toasted marshmallow with an Oreo cookie.

Sept: 19: Talk like a Pirate Day: Arrrgh, mateys, this really is a thing. September weather is the perfect time to dress like a pirate, talk like a pirate and have an outdoor after-school treasure hunt for coins, jewels and candy purchased at the dollar store. You can also pick up some Pirate’s Booty brand snacks at the grocery store and watch any one of “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

Oct. 6: Mad Hatter Day: This date comes from John Tenniel’s illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” depicting the Mad Hatter’s hat as saying “In this style 10/6.” Good enough. Host a wacky tea party with all kinds of crazy food — think Oreo and pudding “dirt” cups with gummy worms — and wacky hats.

Nov. 22 (or the Saturday preceding Thanksgiving): Fort Day: This holiday is the obscurest of the obscure, only officially observed in the Elyssa Andrus household. I hate fort-making with all my heart — it’s just an excuse to dump the linen closet, play for 10 minutes, and then leave a mess that takes hours to clean up — so a couple of years ago I banned forts, except on Fort Day. On this day, my children have 24 hours to use every blanket and piece of furniture we have to turn our entire house into a gigantic fort. They can watch movies in their forts, eat snacks in their forts, sleep in their forts. And I will sit on my hands for a day without cleaning it up. Even if you are a fun parent who allows regular fort-making, this “holiday” is an easy way to keep children busy as the weather cools and you prepare for legitimate holidays.

Dec. 23: Festivus: If you are getting burned out from all of the holiday cheer of Christmas, you could take a break on Humbug Day (Dec. 21). But even better might be to celebrate Festivus (for the rest of us!) on Dec. 23. The “holiday” was popularized by the Dec. 18, 1997, “Seinfeld” episode “The Strike.” Celebrate Costanza-family style by airing grievances and displaying feats of strength (family push-up contest?). It can be a nice break from all the caroling and ho-ho-ho-ing that goes on the rest of the month.

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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