There isn’t much that beats a long weekend during a public holiday, one that you can celebrate with your family and friends. Typically, these days mark a significant historical date or commemorate a watershed moment in a society’s past—and sometimes they don’t. Here are some publicly recognized holidays that you won’t believe actually exist.
Fifth of July
Where it's celebrated: United States
Independence Day is one of the most important holidays celebrated in America. It celebrates the virtue that is the core of the American ideology – freedom. The holiday marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that represents a turning point in United States and world history. It is also a celebration of summer, epitomized by backyard barbecues, company picnics and elaborate fireworks displays.
However, since the Fourth of July is federal holiday on a hard date, it sometimes falls on a weekend. If this is the case, federal employees, schools, and the post office take the following Monday off, and many businesses follow suit. This makes the Fifth of July the holiday. July 5 is also National Bikini Day in the United States, which makes a perfect day to head to the beach.
National Picnic Day
Where it's celebrated: Australia
The first Monday of August is Picnic Day in the Northern Territory of Australia. Schools are closed, the postal service is suspended, and businesses are expected to give employees the day off.
While it may seem strange to suspend all business activities for something as simple as a picnic, the tradition comes from Australia’s industrial heritage. Picnic Day was originally a companywide event for railroad employees, which soon expanded into a region-wide series of events culminated in the Harts Range Races in Central Australia. However, some groups in Australia celebrate the day to mark a different occasion. It is sometimes used to remember the day when Chinese indentured servants were released from their tasks related to building the North Australia Railway.
Up Helly Aa
Where it's celebrated: Scotland
Up Helly Aa is a celebration of many things: winter, fire, Vikings, and, perhaps most significantly, alcohol. The celebration is held on the last Tuesday in January in multiple locations across the Shetland Islands and typically consists of costumed revelers parading through the streets of the largest nearby town. The festival begins with participants drinking heavily and ends with the burning of a replica Viking ship.
While the tradition might seem steeped in history, it is not, as there is no record of Norse cultures holding a similar event at that time of year. By most accounts, the celebration began as a way to combat public drunkenness and disorder in the early 1800s. Despite all these odd facts, Up Helly Aa is a publicly-recognized holiday, and all government operated offices are closed.
Day of the Sea
Where it's celebrated: Bolivia
A holiday honoring a country’s maritime history wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary – unless that country was landlocked, as Bolivia is. The Day of the Sea, held every March 23, is the day that Bolivia remembers the loss of their last stretch of oceanfront property, the Port of Caluma. To commemorate the event, participants hold a parade that is accompanied by recordings of ship horns and sea gulls.
Where it's celebrated: Bermuda
At first glance, Bermuda Day seems normal enough. What country doesn’t take time to celebrate their heritage and way of life? What makes Bermuda Day intriguing, however, is the specific details of island life highlighted during the event. Bermuda day, celebrated every May 24, is widely known as the first day it is socially acceptable to swim in the ocean and wear shorts to work. In that way, it is a little like casual Friday, except it lasts all summer.
Cover image credit: Tatomm / iStock