Atheism / Minutiae / Secular Humanism · May 26, 2007

Towel Day!

Yesterday was Towel Day, and I missed it!

For those of you in the know, Towel Day is the wildly popular, international holiday held every May 25th to commemorate the passing of the much admired Douglas Adams. The first such commemoration was held two weeks after his death on May 11, 2001, and it seems to have taken hold in the hearts of many.

Unfortunately, I was busy and wasn’t aware of it. There were, however, many engineers at my company who were aware of it and who celebrated it appropriately during the day. This says a lot about the mindset of a standard geeky engineer such as myself – I saw several other engineers at my company walking around with bath towels, beach towels and the like casually tossed over their shoulders – and I never thought it was strange! It didn’t even earn a second look from me. Seriously.

But this isn’t surprising. Engineers just seem to love being a little eccentric, myself included. I could tell stories – but that isn’t what I want this post to be about. I’d like to write, briefly, about holidays for the nonbeliever.

Since so many holidays are religious in nature, it is sometimes a little irritating for nonbelievers. Some nonbelievers are adamant about celebrating only secular holidays, such as Tom Flynn, the editor of Free Inquiry magazine, who refuses to celebrate Christmas and will actually go to work on December 25th.

I find that a little difficult to do myself – the company I work for closes its doors. Still, for the last 10 years I’ve worked both December 24th or December 26th when those days didn’t fall on weekends or the company Christmas holiday. (The company closes its doors for two days during Christmas, which usually results in a 4-day weekend for us all.)

I do celebrate the Winter Solstice, by giving (and receiving) presents and decorating a tree (with a ribbon on top). I enjoy the holiday ‘feeling’ of the season – but I don’t think it is really worth a week, or two week vacation. I love working during this time because the halls are nearly empty and I can get a lot of stuff done without interruption. I love the decorations too – mostly the decorations around here are of Santa and his reindeer, very few include a religious theme.

I try to celebrate Darwin Day every February 12th (and did you know that his bicentennial birthday will happen in 2009? Big Things are being planned!). I celebrate other days such as Veteran’s day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Freethought Day, and Labor Day. I celebrate Thanksgiving, but I think of it as “Harvest Day”. My New Year’s celebration includes the traditional drinking of a toast at midnight, and the traditional watching of the Rose Parade the next morning.

Easter doesn’t even raise a blip on my personal radar. I’m at the point now where I don’t even notice the Easter holiday unless I’m reminded of it.

I enjoy holidays (who wouldn’t?) and I enjoy having secular holidays. At some point I’ll create a personal calender with the holidays that I celebrate, and I’ll hang it up in my cube.

But not this weekend. I’m planning a holiday with friends, and perhaps a barbecue!