One day when I was in my late teens, I danced with excitement. I had just discovered the funnest website ever – Brownielocks.com. The place provides a comprehensive list of holidays, and not just Hanukkah and MLK Day. There are hundreds of lesser-known observances I had never heard of. January, for example, has a No Name Calling Week and a World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture. You even have your “wacky,” humorous holidays just for fun. December 18 happens to be Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf Day!
The older I’ve gotten, I’ve realized how much I LOVE having daily or weekly themes to celebrate. You don’t have to wait for the next national holiday to feel like right now is special and holy. With lesser-known or made-up observances that speak to you, you can make more of your days feel playful and memorable. One of my 2021 goals is to grow as a vegan writer. So I decided to search for animal and eco-themed holidays I could share with you that will help me grow as an activist this year. Thank you to EcoEnclose for giving me 65 options to choose from! See if any of these possibilities for honoring Earth and animals resonate with you.
World Aquatic Animal Day on April 3rd
I kept What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe by my bedstand last year. I began learning the most fascinating fish facts. Our land mammal status makes it easy to overlook aquatic animals’ sentience, but the scientific community has increasingly recognized their ability to feel. I look forward to a day I can devote to learning and writing about our water-dwelling friends. Thank you to the people at Lewis & Clark Law School for organizing.
International Dark Sky Week is April 19 to 26
I was floored today. I had to do Dark Sky Week. While I knew fireworks and physical pollution were problems, I’d barely thought about how light pollution hurts wild animals. Baby sea turtles, many bird species, insects, and predator-prey dynamics have all been impacted. Let’s see what we can do to help.
Astronomy was one of my favorite subjects in school. I’m dying to dust off that telescope and dive back into the stars for a week. Plus, this will be a chance to study my local noctural wildlife, as well as how diverse human cultures have related to the night sky.
World Rainforest Day is June 22
“Rainforests are the lungs of the planet. Breathe deeply and thank the rainforests.” Rainforest Partnership recommends eating meat-free and passing on palm oil. They also encourage we donate to organizations that protect these priceless ecosystems. Preserving rainforest can reverse some of the effect of our greenhouse gas emissions.
There’s also an International Day of Forests (celebrate all forests) on March 21.
National Cleanup Day is September 19
Whether you join a team, or go alone, September 19 is as good a day as any to clean up our natural landscapes. July 1st to 7th is National Clean Beaches Week if you live near water!
Picking up trash is powerful. It makes real and tangible the things we accomplish when we donate, or when we influence our political leaders to adopt eco-friendlier policies. For online activists like myself, it’s refreshing to get out there and express kindness to wild animals directly.
World Car Free Day is September 22
Yes, let’s cut back on air pollutants! Now that I’m working from home, it’s easier to take an honest look at the harm caused by auto transportation, and to reconsider how I might travel in the future.
I even have an ambitious idea for September 22! By then, I want to have recovered enough from my knee injury to start biking again. I could celebrate Car Free Day with a nice long bike ride to the store, completing my errands without the emissions.
International Animal Rights Day is December 10
On this day in 1948, the UN made a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. International Animal Rights Day was created 50 years later. Candle-lit vigils and other demonstrations have served to remind the public: Humans are just one of many species who wish to free from harm.
With National Animal Rights Day in June, the Fast Against Slaughter on October 2, and World Vegan Day on November 1, there will be plenty more special occasions this year to advocate for farmed animals and for all animals.
I am so excited about my new holidays list for 2021. These upcoming celebrations represent much of who I aspire to become. A long-term vegan, I am eager to keep doing what I can to help animals, while increasing my education around ecological issues.
Observing extra holidays doesn’t have to mean extra stress. Even if I only end up celebrating a couple of these, this could create powerful memories that nurture me to keep going. If a day devoted to a certain cause jumps out at you, pick something you can do in as little as 10 minutes! Read up on an important topic. Submit a letter to the editor, or post what you learn on Facebook or on Medium. Give words of encouragement to people, or start a monthly donation to an effort you believe in.
Whenever you read these words, may your year ahead be filled with joy and compassion.
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Photo: Hian Oliveria via Unsplash