Bizarre holidays, observed

Keep the celebration going all year long.
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  December 26, 2013

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INTERNATIONAL SNOWMOBILE SAFETY WEEK Celebrate at the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club's SNODEO

It’s tough to get excited about the traditional holidays these day. There’s a war on Christmas, Columbus Day is for racists, Valentine’s Day has always been a sham, and Thanksgiving has been marred by rabid consumerism. That’s why, in 2014, we at the Phoenix will be celebrating some alt-holidays, special days that haven’t yet been adopted — and thereby ruined — by the masses. Follow along through the year, as we honor everything from grapefruits to girl geeks to healthy gums.

JANUARY

January 7: National Tempura Day | Instead of cake, we want this dish from the Green Elephant (608 Congress St, Portland): Tempura Asparagus Salad with red onion, hard-boiled egg, cilantro, fried shallot, and coconut milk-chili dressing. Yum. Let’s celebrate this holiday once a month.

January 18-26: International Snowmobile Safety Week | How better to observe ISSW than at the annual SNODEO at the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club? Featuring snowmobile races and demonstrations, a parade, aerial tricks and stunts, and an opening night safety vigil, this is the ultimate celebration of winter sports in Maine (rangeleysnowmobile.com).

January 28: Data Privacy Day | The rule of thumb on Internet use was once “Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t put on a postcard.” The idea was that everything was all out there to be read by someone. Of course, now that many of us live nearly our entire lives online, that’s getting to be less acceptable. But what’s making it even more difficult is the US government, which is vacuuming up data on all of us — phone calls, emails, banking transactions, physical movements (remember that GPS feature on your phone?). The fact is, it’s our data. And we need its privacy to be respected by our government — our elected officials and the unelected people we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars. Look for major protests against the National Security Agency around the country and across the globe today, as well as policy initiatives aimed at giving people control of data about them, rather than leaving it in the hands of governments and companies.

FEBRUARY

National Grapefruit Month | There are benefits to having an interconnected, globalized world, and the grapefruit is one of them. It was first bred in Barbados by crossing Jamaican oranges (which are originally from South Asia) with Indonesian pomelos. Take today and celebrate the human betterment of our existence: bringing two different plants across oceans to meld sweetness and sourness in just the right way.

February 1: Ice Cream for Breakfast Day | Self-explanatory; though many ice-cream shops are closed for the season in February (and those that are open typically don’t cater to a breakfast crowd), we encourage ice-cream fanatics to buy a pint at the supermarket, top it with granola and fruit, and call it breakfast. Substitute coffee ice cream for your regular cup of java, and you’ll really be in the holiday spirit.

February 14-21: National Condom Week | The female condom is poised for a comeback, according to a recent BBC News report. Already widely used overseas, a more intuitive, less crinkly version “known as the Origami is about a year away from market launch in the US.” The Origami is designed by Danny Resnic, a gay man who contracted HIV due to a broken condom; he is also currently testing the world’s first condom specifically for anal sex.

MARCH

March 2-8: Telecommuter Appreciation Week | Declared every year since 1993 by the American Telecommuting Association (could someone work from home to spruce up their website?), this “holiday” raises awareness about the individual, family, professional, and societal benefits of telework. Marissa Mayer might not like it, but telecommuting at least occasionally is a win for workers, employers, and the environment. (This item brought to you by a legit pajama-wearing telecommuter.)

March 5: National Absinthe Day | May we recommend the Sazerac at Portland Hunt & Alpine Club (75 Market St, Portland), made with rye, sugar, bitters, and absinthe; or the “Bathtub Gin and Tonic” at Ginkgo Blue (455 Fore St, Portland), containing Cold River Gin, Q Tonic, fresh lime juice, and an absinthe-soaked sugar cube.

March 25: Waffle Day | To celebrate Waffle Day (wholly different from Waffle Week, which takes place in September!), you can’t do much better than the dark chocolate waffles at Bintliff’s American Cafe (98 Portland St, Portland).

APRIL

Fair Housing Month | A recent analysis of local impediments to fair housing, prepared for the city of Portland by the statewide research firm Planning Decisions, Inc., identified fear, finances, reluctant landlords, inadequate public transit, and a need for new units as barriers to housing equity and accessibility in Portland. By April 2014, the report will have been on City Hall desks for one year; let’s take this month to hold our leaders accountable.

April 20-26: International Whistlers Week | Last year, Robert Smith, better known as the Whistler, agreed to a court order preventing him from standing in one place and whistling his tuneless notes. The goal was to prevent him from bothering any one business or group of people overly much. We say free speech deserves to be celebrated in all its forms, so all those of us who have not been subjected to a court order restricting our whistling, walk around — or stand around — and pucker up!

Third Thursday in April: High Five Day | According to Wired’s “How-to Wiki,” the following elements add up to a perfect high-five:
1) Confidence. “He who launches the high-five owns the high-five.”
2) Focus. “Keep your eye on the elbow; that’ll automatically line up your mitts.”
3) Form. “As you reach the high point of the arc, make your hand slightly concave to create that satisfying thunderclap.”

April 19: National Garlic Day | “If everyone ate more garlic, the world would be a happier place.” _food writer and former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl, in her 2001 book, Comfort Me with Apples
“Garlic? I’ll just leave now.” _every vampire ever.
Get the picture?

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