With the holiday season in full swing, December means something different to all of us. Some of us relish the back-to-back-to-back onslaught of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, while others would prefer to spend the final month of the year in full-on hibernation. Wherever you fall on that particular spectrum, there’s an argument to be made in favor of having more holidays rather than fewer. That may sound counterintuitive, but consider the fact that semi-official events like World Wildlife Conservation Day and Pumpkin Pie Day not only take little effort to observe but also provide lighthearted fun as you mark the days on your calendar. Here are 10 such holidays to celebrate in December.
December 2: National Mutt Day
Purebreds may triumph at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every year, but mutts will always be winners in our hearts. If you already have a mixed-breed dog in your life, use today as an excuse to give them even more cuddles and treats than usual; if not, know that there’s never been a better time to visit your local shelter and either bring one home or, if your situation doesn’t allow for a new family member just yet, simply volunteer. National Mutt Day is also a great excuse to get your pup one of those DNA tests and find out which blend of breeds made them so special in the first place.
December 4: Wildlife Conservation Day
Some of your favorite animals may be more endangered than you think. Did you know, for instance, that there are no more than 4,000 tigers in the wild and fewer than 30,000 rhinos? Hope remains, however, and there’s no time like Wildlife Conservation Day to turn it into action. Created by the World Wildlife Fund and the U.S. State Department in 2012, this day seeks to bring greater awareness to threatened species and how we might help them flourish again. (For one positive example, look no further than the American Bison.) A good place to start: Take the WWF’s pledge to help stop wildlife crime and keep educating yourself on this issue tomorrow and beyond.
December 5: Bathtub Party Day
It may shock you to learn this, dear reader, but there are some among us who don’t enjoy soaking in a bath. We don’t understand it, but it’s true. However, Bathtub Party Day seems as great an opportunity as ever to convert a non-believer to this important act of self-care (and perhaps remind them that it’s perfectly acceptable to rinse off in the shower before or after if that’s the source of their hang-up). As for yourself, celebrate by luxuriating in the tub for as long as you please.
December 10: Nobel Prize Day
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been given out in five categories: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. Though most of us won't be receiving one this year, that doesn't mean we can't celebrate along with the Swedish Academy on December 10. There’s no better time to honor excellence across all fields — and perhaps consider giving an award of your own to the gifted scientist, writer, or peacemaker in your life.
December 12: Gingerbread House Day
If you enjoy sweet treats and building blocks, constructing and decorating a gingerbread house may be both easier and more relaxing than you'd expect. Most store-bought kits are far less evil than the famous abode in Hansel and Gretel, and they carry a fascinating history — did you know gingerbread is thought to have been first brought to Europe by an Armenian monk named Gregory Markar, who later became Saint Gregory of Nicopolis?
December 18: Ugly Christmas Sweater Day
We all have one, whether we originally wanted it or not. Luckily for us, ugly Christmas sweaters have become fashionably unfashionable in recent years as more and more people have embraced their seasonal kitschiness. National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day has taken place on the third Friday of December every year since 2011, and various humanitarian groups have used the sartorial date to promote their initiatives, like Save the Children did in 2014 with their Make the World Better With a Sweater campaign.
December 21: Humbug Day
Not everyone likes the holidays — Christmas in particular — and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, you might go so far as to say that these folks deserve a day of their own. Humbug Day is just that: a time to celebrate those who don’t like celebrating. Whether you’re a Scrooge, a Grinch, or a little of both, take a day to decompress and remind yourself that you’re just a week and a half away from The Holiday Season*™ ending.
December 23: Festivus
A Festivus for the rest of us! What began as a farcical holiday on a 1997 episode of Seinfeld has turned into a real-world observance, with revelers from all over following Frank Costanza’s example by participating in the airing of grievances, feats of strength, and putting up the Festivus pole. Perfect for anyone who objects to the ever-increasing commercialism of the holiday season, Festivus is so over-the-top ridiculous that it’s genuinely joyful.
December 25: Pumpkin Pie Day
Though it’s best known for a certain other holiday, December 25 is also set aside for celebrating the best food in the world: pumpkin pie. “But wait,” you might be thinking, “that’s a Thanksgiving treat.” That may be true, but we mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger. In addition to the obvious Pumpkin Pie Day celebrations — i.e., eating as much pumpkin pie as possible and not letting anyone judge you for it — you can elevate your overindulgence by reading poems like John Greenleaf Whittier's “The Pumpkin” (“What calls past the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?”) and Lydia Maria Child's “Over the River and Through the Wood” (“Is the pudding done? / Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!”). Hurrah indeed.
December 28: Short Film Day
Roger Ebert once said that “no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” With that in mind, take today to explore the underappreciated world of short films, which predate their feature-length counterparts by several decades and are as vital today as they were in the late 1800s. From all-timers like The Red Balloon and La Jetée to animated favorites such as Bao and A Grand Day Out, shorts prove that brevity is an art form unto itself.