February 16, 2017

#05-006: Frivolous January Holidays

close-up on a table with wine bottles and glasses, and unidentifiable mashed food on plates
A traditional Burns supper

Note: There seems to be a "National Day" for almost anything. So how do you celebrate "National Hot Sauce Day"?

Get Ready: What is the silliest "holiday" you can think of? What makes it seem silly to you?

In addition to all of the genuine holidays, celebrating heroes, nations, religions, and so on, every month is jam-packed with less serious days. Though they are frivolous, they can also bring a sense of delight to what might otherwise be a dull day.

Many of these are related to food and drink, and are often created by professional associations and trade councils to promote their product. Among those celebrated in the United States in January are: National Bloody Mary Day (Jan. 1st), National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day (the 3rd), National Whipped Cream Day (the 4th), National Popcorn Day (the 19th), National Hot Sauce Day (the 22nd), National Peanut Butter Day (the 24th), and National Chocolate Cake Day (the 27th).

Other days celebrated in various countries include National Bird Day (Jan. 5th), for bird watchers and for owners of pet birds; National Argyle Day (the 8th), which honors a particular version of Scottish plaid that is popular on, among other articles of clothing, socks; National Bubble Bath Day (also the 8th), a time to soak in a hot bath with soapy bubbles, especially comforting in colder climates; National "Kiss a Ginger" Day (the 12th), which encourages us to go out and give a red-headed person a peck on the cheek; National Winnie the Pooh Day, held on author A. A. Milne's birthday (the 18th); National Hug Day (the 21st), when, of course, you should hug anyone you'd like; the similarly-intended National Compliment Day (the 24th); and National Opposite Day (the 25th), when you should say everything backwards: "Hello" for "Goodbye," "Yes" for No," etc. (This last one seems like an echo of the "Topsy Turvy Day," as mentioned in Lesson #05-003.)

Two more silly days deserve attention. One is National Rubber Duckie Day (Jan. 13th). The prominence of the yellow rubber bath duck in popular culture can be traced back to a song on the popular children's show Sesame Street, and the producers once created a calendar which showed the 13th as Ducky's birthday. Voila! A holiday was born.

The other is the marginally more serious Burns Supper. These are occasions for dining hosted on or near the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns (Jan. 25th). The evening can include traditional bagpipes; Scottish foods such as haggis; and of course, recitation of Burns's poetry. (There's more about Burns and New Years in Lesson #01-056.)


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Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. frivolous
  2. genuine
  3. ginger
  4. jam-packed
  5. luxuriate
  6. marginally
  7. peck
  8. plaid
  9. recitation
  10. voila

  1. completely full
  2. oral delivery
  3. a small kiss
  4. slightly; barely
  5. a crisscross pattern of cloth
  6. authentic; real
  7. enjoy oneself thoroughly
  8. silly; light-hearted
  9. a person with red hair
  10. "there it is" (in French)

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 16, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. h; 2. f; 3. i; 4. a; 5. g; 6. d; 7. c; 8. e; 9. b; 10. j