Picture from JohnMariani.com.
Just about any kid who took chemistry in high school has participated in a Mole Day or two. To celebrate Avogadro's constant, 6.02×10 to the 23rd power, chemistry teachers across the country make their students roll into school at 6:02 a.m. on October 23 for extra credit. At least, my chemistry teacher did. Avogadro's constant, by the way, defines the number of particles in a mole, hence Mole Day. What you do to celebrate Mole Day really depends on the teacher - it can be anything from creating a poster for Mole Day to consuming a mole of water to creating cheesy mole jokes (Who was Avogadro's favorite character on M*A*S*H*? Father Molecahy, of course).
Picture from MoleDay.org.
If you prefer Douglas Adams to James Joyce, you're out of luck for this year - Towel Day, May 25, has already come and gone. Towel Day is a relative newcomer to the academic holiday scene; the first one was celebrated in 2001 just two weeks after Adams died. Why towels? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, states that the towel is the single greatest thing an interstellar hitchhiker can bring with him:
You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
Why May 25? It really has no significance to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The reason seems to be that fans wanted to honor Adams shortly after his death the 25th was chosen because it was exactly two weeks later. The date stuck, but TowelDay.org points out this lovely coincidence - "As the universe that Douglas Adams created was full of absurdity and randomness, it may be a fitting choice after all. And if you need an additional reason: if you add the hexadecimal numbers 25 and 5, and convert the result to decimal, you get 42!" Forty two being the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, of course.
Photo from Beny Shlevich.
Picture from GJ.
Tolkien Reading Day
Yeah, Tolkien's so important he gets two days. March 25 is known as Tolkien Reading Day, but it's also the day of the fall of Sauron. The Tolkien Society encourages fans to get together and read out loud while enjoying a hot toasted bun and a warm drink "in hobbitish comfort."
Picture from TolkienSociety.org.
Square Root Day
Although this is another mathematical day, it's a bit more rare than the others: it only occurs when the month and day are the square roots of the last two digits of the year. We had one this year - 03/03/09 - but the next one won't happen on the calendar until 04/04/16. In fact, there are only nine of them every century: 01/01/01, 02/02/04, 03/03/09, 04/04/16, 05/05/25, 06/06/36, 07/07/49, 08/08/64 and 09/09/81 (I know, you could have figured that out on your own. The first one was celebrated on September 9, 1981, created by a high school teacher named Ron Gordon. Nearly 28 years later, he still serves as the national publicist for Square Root Day and suggests that people commemorate the occasion by consuming radishes or other root vegetables cut into squares.
Monkey Day, December 14, was created just nine years ago by art students at Michigan State. It celebrates exactly what it sounds like it celebrates: namely, simians. What is there to celebrate about monkeys, you might ask? Lots, according to the Monkey Day website. There's medical research, animal rights, and that whole evolution thing. But mostly, it's a day to dress up like a monkey, talk like a monkey, and maybe donate some money to your favorite monkey-related charity. And drink, I imagine. Whatever the reason behind El Dia de Mono, it has some pretty powerful fans: Peter Jackson chose the day to release King Kong in 2005.
Picture from MonkeyDay.com.