The Other July Holidays

lenore skenazyBY LENORE SKENAZY | Feeling a little down because the big July holiday is already behind us, with nothing to show for it but leftover red, white, and blue frosted cupcakes? (And isn’t blue frosting repulsive? And isn’t that why the cupcakes are left over?)

Take heart, die-hard celebrants. It turns out July is chock-full of holidays that you just may not be aware of. Here are a few I found by doing arduous summer research (going online, looking up “Weird Holidays, July,” an iced coffee at my side, and ever less mocha-chip ice cream in the freezer):

July 6 was National Kissing Day. This holiday was first celebrated in the United Kingdom, which seems to have ceased kissing Europe just a few weeks ago to disastrous effect. Better to kiss than not to kiss.

July 6 was also National Fried Chicken Day, which seems like a terrible day to coincide with Kissing Day.

And this year, July 6 was also Eid al-Fitr. That’s the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan, the month-long holiday when Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. If I’d been celebrating Ramadan and was suddenly free to eat all day long, no fried chicken would be safe to cross the road. And I’d kiss the cook.

In other good food news, July 9 is National Sugar Cookie Day. You can probably guess how people are encouraged to celebrate, no doubt by the National Sugar Cookie Association. But here’s a fact you might not know: Sugar cookies were first brought to America by German settlers in Pennsylvania — the same folks who gave us the Christmas tree. Maybe they got sick of waiting till December for us to give them a shout-out.

What’s more, as comedian Gary Gulman has noted: All cookies are sugar cookies. “A cookie without sugar is a cracker.”

July 11 is Cheer Up the Lonely Day. So go tell them that Gary Gulman joke.

July 14 is France’s July Fourth, as it were. It’s Bastille Day, commemorating that fateful day in 1789 when common folks stormed the Bastille to free the political prisoners. As it turned out, on that particular day there were actually only seven prisoners being held. Meanwhile, over 100 people died liberating them. These are the kind of grim ironies you probably don’t see in kiddie coloring books about the holiday.

So for a less conflicted fete, maybe you’d be better off celebrating the other July 14 holiday: National Nude Day. Although that day, too, is not without issues. For most of us, this would be an awkward holiday to celebrate at work. But for those with a guitar, a cowboy hat, and a high tolerance for Times Square tourists, it’s just another day at the office.

Next up? The third Sunday in July is designated National Ice Cream Day — a holiday first officially recognized by President Ronald Regan — and this year it falls on July 16. Plenty of ice cream stores give out free cones, or free-with-some-sort-of-caveat cones, like you have to buy one to get one free. Frankly, if you have a home freezer and any sort of spoon, just get a gallon of cheap ice cream for the cost of a single cone and invite friends over! (Unless somehow the ice cream has sort of…disappeared while you were writing a column about holidays.)

Never mind! By July 18 we are at National Caviar Day. Please make sure you have finished your National Ice Cream Day celebrations before commencing this one. You will thank me. So will anyone sharing your bathroom. According to everyone’s favorite news source, NationalCaviarDay.com, caviar was once so cheap and plentiful in America, it was sometimes served for free at bars like peanuts. Slimy, fishy peanuts.

What could be less savory except…

Rat Catcher’s Day! That’s what July 22 is. Celebrate it in the subway. No, really, you’ll love what Wikipedia says about this day, which was inspired by the Pied Piper leading the rats out of Hamelin: “It is a holiday remembering rat catchers, similar to Secretary’s Day.” Maybe don’t say that to your secretary.

July 27 is Take Your Plants for a Walk Day — self-explanatory. And then come three days you don’t want to miss.  July 28 is Milk Chocolate Day, the 29th is Lasagna Day and then the 30th is Cheesecake Day. Cynics may assume that the dairy industry just churns out (ha ha) holiday after holiday, but in truth, sometimes it takes a national celebration for us to pause and reflect upon our history, our country, our freedom.

And our rat catchers.

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog/Twitter feed, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).