One of the most anticipated days on the Internet is literally decades in the making.
One of the most anticipated days on the Internet is literally decades in the making.
Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in the second Back to the Future film in order to stop Marty’s son from ruining his life (and that of his family’s). The date itself is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things—it’s not like Marty and Doc kept returning to it, like they did with Nov. 12, 1955, across three films—but the fact that it’s displayed prominently within Doc’s DeLorean time machine makes it perfect trivia fodder. And so, thanks to Back to the Future, there’s now a significance to Oct. 21, 2015 (not, ahem, any of the other dates your friends and relatives shared on Facebook).
You won’t find these dates circled on most calendars, but fans and purveyors of pop culture have been celebrating them for years. For example, Harry Potter fans—who already saw many of their favorite characters’ birthdays celebrated on J.K. Rowling’s website—figured out the entire timeline of the series based off Gryffindor ghost Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday, which took place on Oct. 31, 1492. Because it was his 500th Deathday party in Chamber of Secrets, fans quickly figured out that Harry Potter took place in the ’90s; from there, mapping out the births and deaths of most of the characters in the series was a cinch. Rowling herself even embraced it at one point in Deathly Hallows.
These are the days we live for. They’re the holidays that fuel our undying love for pop culture, and as silly as they may seem, they’re the days that bring us together. We might celebrate different things throughout the year, but our love of TV, film, books, and more can bring us all together—at least for a moment.
So we set out to make the definitive pop culture calendar for fans like us. Whenever possible, we cite the year given within the source material or by its fandom (or when something started to become popular within that fandom). If there was none attached, we defaulted to the year the book, film, or TV show was published.
We might not yet have something to celebrate every single day, but that just means there’s room to grow. Follow along with the complete list of events with this shareable Google Calendar.
Jan. 6: Sherlock Holmes’s birthday
Origin: Sherlock Holmes
History: While Sherlock’s birthday is never explicitly stated in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales, Sherlock fans figured out the year because his age is mentioned in “His Last Bow,” which takes place in August 1914: “He was a tall, gaunt man of sixty…”
Jan. 8: Roy Batty’s Incept Date
Origin: Blade Runner
History: Toward the beginning of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, we catch a glimpse of a computer listing information on some of the replicants—bioengineered androids who are sent to do dangerous jobs off-planet—who’ve escaped to Earth. The film takes place in 2019, but two of the replicants, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and Pris (Daryl Hannah), were incepted in 2016.
Roy Batty was incepted first on Jan. 8, 2016, while Pris came in a little more than a month later on Feb. 14. Now we’re just a few years from epic destruction and making one particular blade runner’s life hell.
Jan. 10: Alaska Young Day
Origin: Looking for Alaska
History: While digging into the mystery behind the death of Alaska Young, the titular character of John Green’s first novel, Pudge and the Colonel come to a realization. For them she died on Jan. 10, just one day after the anniversary of the greatest day of her life: the day she and her mom went to the zoo.
While their theory of how she died is off-base, the timing isn’t a coincidence. Alaska wore white flowers in her hair when she was little (and her mom liked them), so fans will often post pictures of white flowers on Alaska Day.
Jan. 25-31: Winter-een-mas
History: Ctrl+Alt+Del creator Tim Buckley, who created the gaming holiday within his webcomic’s universe, explains why he came up with it.
“Winter-een-mas, in its essence, is a holiday for gamers. It is celebration of games and the gamers who play them. Video games allow us to do things, go places, see stuff that we couldn’t do in real life. They can be an escape from reality, a release after a long day, a fun activity with friends, or just an enjoyable way to pass time. They give us a lot of entertainment, So why shouldn’t they be celebrated?”
Winter-een-mas—a portmanteau of winter, Halloween, and Christmas—is essentially the time of year when gamers can take the time to actually play all of the games they’ve purchased and loved throughout the year. While technically Winter-een-mas takes place through all of January (and, for some gamers, the celebration could very well just be every day), the main week of celebration is the final week of the month. (It also has a fairly absurd and amusing origin story told in the style of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”)
Feb. 2: Groundhog Day
Origin: Groundhog Day
History: Groundhog Day has been a yearly tradition long before the Bill Murray–Andie MacDowell romantic comedy brought it into the pop culture lexicon, but the official holiday is now almost inextricable from Murray’s Phil Connors’ hatred for it. According to WhatCulture, the character relived this nightmarish date an astounding 12,395 times.
Feb. 13: Galentine’s Day
Origin: Parks and Recreation
History: We all know about Valentine’s Day, but for many women both in and out of relationships, the real fun is in Galentine’s Day. First appearing in a now-iconic season 2 episode of the same name, the holiday started when feminist hero Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) gave out gifts to her friends, female co-workers, random strangers, and even her mother in order to celebrate the incredible women in her life. Ovaries before brovaries, as Leslie would say.
It’s brought up again in season 4’s “Operation Ann” and is the name of a season 6 episode when Leslie hosts an impromptu Galentine’s Day brunch in order to find a suitable replacement for Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) before she moves away. So even though Parks and Recreation is over, many women have embraced this holiday as their own, letting the show’s legacy live on.
Feb. 14: The end of the world
Origin: Ghostbusters II
History: The psychic Elaine appeared on Peter Venkman’s TV show, The World of the Psychic, in the Ghostbusters sequel before he returned to ghostbusting. She told Venkman that an alien told her that the world would end on Feb. 14, 2016, which she found out after an alien brought her a drink and forced her into his room (she believes due to mind control).
As Venkman puts it, “Valentine’s Day. Bummer.”
Venkman is skeptical, but is it a coincidence that the Ghostbusters are returning in 2016? (Probably.)
Feb. 22: “Underage Drinker #1’s” Birthday
Origin: Hot Fuzz / Cornetto Trilogy
History: Hot Fuzz is pretty much a masterpiece on its own, but one of the smaller points involves Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) arresting a rowdy teenager for being underage in a pub. We don’t know if the teenage boy’s birthday is actually on Feb. 22 or it was just a date he pulled out of thin air, but evidently it meant something to him.
Feb. 24: Agent Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks
Origin: Twin Peaks
History: In the Twin Peaks pilot, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper drives into Twin Peaks, Washington, in order to investigate Laura Palmer’s murder. As he’s on the road, he recounts what he sees in a tape addressed to Diane, a mysterious woman we never see in the show who may or may not exist.
Feb. 27: Pokémon Day
History: Pokémon debuted on the Game Boy Feb. 27, 1996, and it’s been part of nerd culture and pop culture ever since. In the last 20 years, fans have welcomed a bunch of spinoff games on multiple gaming systems, a successful anime and many movies, and a card game. Pikachu, who’s always been the face of Pokémon, was Japan’s official mascot during the 2014 World Cup.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pokémon’s debut, Nintendo teamed up with Twitch to host a 32-hour livestream, which included a 24-hour marathon of the anime. You could also pick up special commemorative items at GameStop and Toys ‘R’ Us or participate in a Pokken Tournament.
Feb. 29: Superman’s birthday
Origin: DC Comics
Year: 1938 (even though there was no Feb. 29, 1938); first appeared in print in 1967
History: Comic book canon can be a tricky thing. Some series have been running for more than 75 years, so they’re rebooted every so often to reset everything and hook new readers, and those reboots can often contradict one another. So it’s really not surprising that something like Superman’s birthday has multiple dates attached. Clark Kent celebrates his birthday on June 18, the day that Jonathan and Martha Kent found him in his Kryptonian spaceship, and Superman’s birthday was marked as Dec. 1 in Superman: Secret Origin #1. But the most consistent date that stuck around is Feb. 29—Leap Day.
The date first appeared in print in 1967 in the letter column of World’s Finest Comics #164 by assistant editor E. Nelson Bridwell and later appeared in Alan Moore’s Superman story, “For the Man Who Has Everything,” in 1985. In 1988, Superman appeared on the cover of Time for his 50th birthday; Superman comics first came out in 1938.
Feb. 29: Leap Day
Origin: 30 Rock
History: This season 6 episode of 30 Rock turns the one day we see every four years into a more legitimate holiday, complete with bizarre traditions and a grandfather-like mascot that pops out of the Mariana Trench to give children candy after they cry. People wear blue and yellow lest you get poked in the eye, and to top it all off, there’s a cheesy rom-com within the episode starring Andie MacDowell and Jim Carrey as lawyer who transforms into a mustachioed, gilled creature. It’s absurd, but it works.
March 3: Joe Bauers discovers he’s been asleep for 500 years
History: Joe is one of two people to participate in a government suspended animation experiment and completely forgotten over the course of 500 years. Once he wakes up, he’s disoriented and taken to see a doctor—who isn’t exactly cut out for the job. When it’s time for him to pay his bill with a tattooed barcode he doesn’t have, he sees the date and figures it out.
March 6: The Day of the Dude
Origin: The Big Lebowski
History: It’s not often that a film sparks its own religion, but The Big Lebowski is in a class of its own. Oliver Benjamin founded Dudeism—also known as the Church of the Latter-Day Dude—in 2005, and soon afterwards a holiday was established to honor the very foundations of Dudeism. While the date shifted around at first, it ultimately fell on March 6, the anniversary of when The Big Lebowski came out in 1998.
“We recommend celebrating The Day of the Dude by getting together with like-minded Dudeists, drinking white Russians, watching the sacred film, and going bowling,” the Dudespaper explains on how to celebrate the holiday. “However, anything that pays honor to the high principles of Dudeism is fine.”
March 24: That fateful Saturday detention
Origin: The Breakfast Club
History: That detention at Shermer High School could’ve taken place on any other Saturday if it hadn’t been spoon-fed to us. Released nearly a year after the detention in question, The Breakfast Club is quotable, relatable for many of us, and we still come back to it more than 30 years later. And all it took was five teenagers giving up a Saturday.
March 31: Kenneth the Page’s death
Origin: 30 Rock
History: During 30 Rock’s 100th episode, titled “100,” the characters imagine where they’ll be in five years. In one scene, the camera lingers on Kenneth Parcell’s gravestone, which revealed that he’d die on March 31, 2016. We don’t learn much about what happened, but Kenneth soon assures us that he’s not dead with a universal sign.
His birthday, which appears to be listed as May 27, 1781, only further fuels that theory that Kenneth is actually immortal.
April 5: First Contact Day
Origin: Star Trek
History: A day that hasn’t happened yet? Sure, but it’s just as much of a celebration of Star Trek as it is the endless possibilities of our own space exploration. After the first flight of the spaceship Phoenix, which could achieve light speed with warp drive, caught the attention of the Vulcans, humans in Bozeman, Montana, and Vulcans contacted each other for the first time. First Contact Day marks that anniversary. It eventually became one of the plot points of Star Trek: First Contact as Captain Jean Luc Picard and his crew go back in time to April 2063 to save the future.
The date itself is a little easier to explain: April 5 is the birthday of First Contact co-writer Ronald D. Moore’s oldest son.
April 8: Rex Manning Day
Origin: Empire Records
History: Empire Records, a struggling indie music store, is hosting a signing and meet-and-greet with former ’80s pop idol Rex Manning. Nobody is looking forward to it and nobody really likes Rex (including his own assistant), but the employees can’t help but say it as often as possible. Although the date was up for debate, the Netflix version of Empire Records (and larger TVs) put an end to that.
April 25: The Perfect Date
Origin: Miss Congeniality
History: Early on in the Miss United States pageant, Miss Rhode Island, aka Cheryl Fraiser, is asked for her idea of the perfect date. Instead of going into detail about the place or the activities, she took a more literal approach.
April 26: Alien Day
History: Alien Day isn’t a date from the series or the anniversary of a film’s release date (although the 30th anniversary of Aliens’s release is coming up in July). Instead, Fox is using LV-426, the name of the aliens’ planet in the movies, as the basis for the date.
Fox is blatantly trying cash in on its own geeky holiday with Alien Day, but its celebration includes releasing Ripley’s badass Reebok sneakers and a slew of double feature screenings of Alien and Aliens, so we can’t be completely mad about it.April 30 (but really all of April): It’s Gonna Be May
History: N’SYNC may have been singing about themselves when they came out with the 2000 megahit “It’s Gonna Be Me,” but since 2012 larger groups of people online have joked that Justin Timberlake sounds like he’s saying “May” instead. It’s never gonna be more close to May than April 30.
Soon enough, your calendar may even start singing back to you.
May 2: The Battle of Hogwarts
History: Remember how the Harry Potter fandom nailed down a chronological timeline of the entire series? That even includes inserting information not widely available within the text of the books, such as the date the end of Voldemort’s reign of terror took place. Rowling confirmed it in the 2007 U.K. documentary J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life while she discussed the birth of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s oldest child.
Now that Rowling is on Twitter, she’s taken the time to acknowledge the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. As you can imagine, she’s still mourning the loss of the many characters who perished in the battle and has even started to apologize for killing some of them.
May 4: May the Fourth Be With You / Star Wars Day
Origin: Star Wars
Year: ~2011 with an assist from 1979
History: It’s hard to imagine a May 4 passing without mention from the decades-old Star Wars fandom, but this holiday has grown significantly with the help of social media. And while LucasFilm didn’t come up with the idea, it’s fully behind the idea of a Star Wars Day—as well as the pun with “May the Force be with you.”
The phrase itself first appeared after British politicians congratulated Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become the U.K. Prime Minister, in a 1979 newspaper ad that said “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” And while stories of people celebrating a version of Star Wars Day appeared online earlier, the Toronto Underground Cinema put on the first organized Star Wars Day in 2011. With The Force Awakens and other films on the horizon, this one is only going to get bigger.
May 5: Revenge of the Fifth
Origin: Star Wars
History: Nowhere near as well-known as its counterpart, Revenge of the Fifth is a play on Revenge of the Sith, for the people who need more than one day to celebrate everything Star Wars.
May 10: Whacking Day
Origin: The Simpsons
Year: 1775 / 1924
History: Appearing in the season 4 episode “Whacking Day,” this holiday marks the annual Springfield tradition started by the purported town founder Jebediah Springfield, who whacked his first snake in 1775. Essentially, the people of Springfield lure some snakes to the center of town, where they then kill them with sticks. (It’s just as barbaric as it sounds, and it’s loosely based on a holiday that takes place in a small town in Texas.)
However, over the course of the episode, Bart discovers that Jebediah couldn’t have actually founded Whacking Day since he led an attack on Fort Ticonderoga; never mind that his reported birth year makes him only 1 in 1775. At the episode’s climax, Bart reveals the truth: Whacking Day is actually a thinly veiled excuse to beat up the Irish in town that began in 1924.
May 25: Towel Day / one third of Geek Day
History: Towels are known as the “most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have” in the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, and fans use that symbol of practical and psychological value to honor the life of Douglas Adams. D. Clyde Williams proposed the first Towel Day for May 25, 2001—two weeks after Adams’s sudden death—as a way for people to talk about Hitchhiker’s Guide. While other days have been proposed in recent years, May 25 has always stuck.
Wondering how best to celebrate? Just carry a towel—and don’t panic.
In recent years, Towel Day has been combined into one big Geek Day; May 25 is also the day Star Wars: Episode IV was released in 1977 and marks the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution. (More below.)
May 25: The Glorious Revolution / one third of Geek Day
Year: 1957 in the Discworld timeline
History: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Night Watch, which in part is a parody of Les Miserables, features its own revolutionary battle that ended the reign of a particularly nasty Patrician, or the ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Many fought on that May 25, and while many of the events were reversed throughout the novel, the casualties stayed the same. Now on the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, the survivors (and only those who partook in the battle) wear lilac flowers to honor the fallen.
After Pratchett’s death this year, Discworld fans used the in-universe holiday to honor the author as a day of remembrance.
June 5: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Origin: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
History: In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the titular character (Matthew Broderick) basically has the best day ever. For ages we had a vague sense of when the date occurred—toward the end of the school year—but we only recently got a date, and it’s because of the Chicago Cubs.
Baseball Prospectus’s Larry Granillo noticed from the scene where Ferris catches the foul ball at the Cubs game that the production crew didn’t put any recreated footage in it. Bueller, Cameron Frye, and Sloane Peterson are at an actual Cubs game. After crunching some numbers, Granillo pinned the game as have taking place on June 5, 1985, an 11-inning game the Cubs ultimately lost. Ken Collins, the film’s second assistant director eventually confirmed that the scene was shot on Sept. 24, 1985, but Granillo believes his theory still stands.
June 22: Evangelion Day
Origin: Neon Genesis Evangelion
History: While Neon Genesis Evangelion aired in the mid-’90s, the famous anime created a futuristic and dystopian world that’s both familiar and foreign to us today. But among everything else, it had mechas—better known in the show as Evangelions. In the very first episode, which took place on June 22, 2015, Shinji Ikari is made to get inside of Eva-01 by his father Gendou to fight the Third Angel, and nothing is ever the same.
Although that date has now passed, we can be glad that we’ve yet to be attacked by the Third Angel.
June 22: Summerween
Origin: Gravity Falls
History: The people of Gravity Falls, Oregon, love Halloween so much they made a second holiday of it—Summerween, which falls toward the end of June. It’s very much like the Halloween that takes place in October except for a few minor differences: Instead of jack-o’-lanterns the residents make jack-o’-watermelons, and there’s the local legend the Summerween Trickster, a creature that will eat any children lacking in Summerween spirit. (Like everything in Gravity Falls, the Trickster is real.)
June 22: The original pub crawl
Origin: The World’s End / Cornetto Trilogy
History: Pegg’s Gary King spends pretty much all of The World’s End trying to recreate this one day with his friends, who’ve grown up and outgrown him. Back then they attempted the heroic quest of visiting the 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven over the course of a single night.
And as one edit shows, they pretty much relived that night years later—aside from the aliens, of course.
June 30: Usagi Tsukino’s birthday
Origin: Sailor Moon
History: Even though Usagi is the leader of the Sailor Guardians and the reincarnation of Princess Serenity (and will one day become Neo Queen Serenity), she’s still a teenager at heart. And of course she’s going to be excited when it’s finally her birthday, which occurs in “Usagi in Tears: a Glass Slipper for My Birthday” in the original anime series.
As excited as she was, it didn’t exactly go according to plan. The other Sailor Guardians ignored it because they were planning a surprise party for her, but her boyfriend Mamoru Chiba just didn’t know.
June 31: Weasel Stomping Day
Origin: Robot Chicken
History: “Weasel Stomping Day,” a song off of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Straight Outta Lynwood, is all about getting your viking hats and boots ready to “stomp your cares away” at the expense of some weasels. With a fitting music video courtesy of Robot Chicken, this song parodies ’60s animated musical specials instead of one song in particular—and it’s catchy to boot.
When asked by About.com’s Mike Durrett what day Weasel Stomping Day fell on, Yankovic jokingly said June 31, so good luck celebrating this one anytime soon.
July 1: Bobby Bonilla Day
History: After the end of the 1999 season, the New York Mets wanted to buy out the final year of Bobby Bonilla’s contract, but instead of just paying him the $5.9 million he was owed, the Mets agreed to pay him $1,193,248.20 every year for 25 years starting in 2011. The Mets were reportedly making investments with Bernie Madoff at the time and figured they’d make more money back than they’d owe Bonilla, but that didn’t exactly pan out for them.
So instead Bonilla makes nearly $2 million a year through the year 2035, by which point he’ll have earned approximately $29.8 million for not playing a single game of baseball—something sportswriters and fans love to laugh about.
July 4: Freedom Day
History: Although there isn’t an exact date for Freedom Day, it’s the Fourth of July on steroids and celebrated by everyone on Earth. Essentially, it’s the one day of the year (although it’s unclear if it’s an annual event) when anyone can do anything they want to express freedom. For example, you can be a jerk without consideration of other people’s feelings or go nude without any consequences (or even take part in nude hot tubbing). A parade goes through Earth’s capital of Washington, D.C., the president gives a speech, and then there are fireworks.
The only thing that you can’t do? Eat a flag—which Dr. John Zoidberg found out the hard way.
July 6: The only day in an abandoned English village
Origin: Doctor Who
History: In “The Android Invasion,” Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) return to Earth after some time away and come across a small, strange English village. There, they’re chased by men in white suits along with androids disguised as their friends at U.N.I.T. who are trying to kill all humans and take over the world.
At one point, the Doctor examines an abandoned pub that’s filled with odd items such an unused dartboard and a tear-off calendar with only one date in it.
At first glance it looks like the Doctor is in his own version of Groundhog Day, but it just turns out it’s another piece of evidence that not all is right with that village.
July 31: Harry Potter’s birthday
Origin: Harry Potter
History: While more than a dozen Harry Potter characters such as Ron and the rest of the Weasleys, Hermione Granger, Hagrid, Dobby, Snape, and even Voldemort each have their own birthdays, Harry’s is doubly important. Not only was his birthday part of the plot in numerous books, it’s also Rowling’s birthday, without whom there would be no Harry Potter. This year they both hit a milestone: Harry turned 35 while Rowling turned 50.
Aug. 3: Esther Day
History: Prior to her death in 2010, John and Hank Green promised Esther Earl, a vlogger and Nerdfighter they had befriended, that they would make a video on her birthday about anything she wanted as long as they were still making Vlogbrothers videos. After thinking about it, Earl decided that she wanted the videos to be about celebrating love, family, and friends.
Earl died shortly after the first annual Esther Day, but the Nerdfighter community still gets together every year for what John Green describes as “a Valentine’s Day for the rest of love.” They celebrate Earl’s life along with saying “I love you” to the people in their lives who don’t often hear it.
Aug. 8: The Sensates’ birthday
History: Will, Nomi, Riley, Capheus, Sun, Lito, Kala, and Wolfgang are the Sensates—people who are connected to others through a telepathic connection—at the center of the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic for Netflix. As members of the same cluster, they already have at least one thing in common: They all share a birthday.
Aug. 8 already brought Sense8 fans a renewal, but since the show has only been out for a few months, fans will have to wait to see what else is significant about the date. The characters’ full birthday has not yet been confirmed, but fans have speculated that the Sensates were all born on Aug. 8, 1988—the date with the highest number of eights that lines up with their approximate mid-20s age range.
Aug. 29: Judgment Day
Origin: Terminator series
History: One huge constant in the Terminator series is the idea that the artificial intelligence Skynet will eventually become self-aware and launch a nuclear strike on the world because it saw humanity as a threat.
What hasn’t been constant is the when. Because of the vast use of time travel throughout the series, the date has often changed. Aug. 29, 1997 is the original Judgment Day mentioned in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but alternate timelines have moved it around quite a bit in history, making us wonder how Skynet was even able to keep track of everything.
In the video game Terminator: Future Shock, it occurs sometime in 1995—two years prior to the original date.
The novel Terminator Salvation: Cold War puts it at July 25, 2003.
Both Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the novel Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes place it on July 25, 2004.
It happens at some point in 2005 in the novel T2: The Future War.
Sarah Connor is informed that it will happen April 21, 2011, in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Thanks to Sarah Connor being given a Terminator for protection early in Terminator: Genisys (who then kills the Terminator sent to kill her in 1984 in Terminator), the original date of Judgment Day is now pushed back a couple of decades to 2017.
Aug. 31: Dipper and Mabel Pines’s birthday
Origin: Gravity Falls
History: The lead-up to Dipper and Mabel’s 13th birthday, which was first revealed in 2015 but didn’t play out in the show until 2016, would prove to be a memorable one.
First, nobody can go to their birthday party. Then Dipper decides he wants to take an apprenticeship with his Grunkle Ford, eventually leading Mabel to accidentally release Bill Cipher into Gravity Falls. All hell breaks loose. They have to fight tooth and nail to escape a bubble meant to keep Mable sealed in, unite the townsfolk, defeat Bill, save Gravity Falls, and restore their great-uncle’s memories in order to defeat Bill. By the time they actually celebrate, things have somewhat gotten back to normal.
Blow out those candles. You deserve it.
Sept. 1: The first day of Hogwarts
Origin: Harry Potter
Year: “over 1,000 years ago,” according to Professor Binns in Chamber of Secrets, although some put it at 990 A.D.
History: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was famously founded by Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin more than a millennium ago, although the actual date was lost. Since then, it’s popped out its fair share of talented and powerful witches and wizards (both good and bad), but they likely all had one thing in common: they were sorted into Houses prior to the start-of-term feast.
It’s unclear exactly when that tradition started, or whether the date of Sept. 1 was always the first day of term for Hogwarts students—no matter what day of the week it fell on—but the Hogwarts Express left promptly on Sept. 1 at 11am from Kings Cross Station in London every year since the early to mid-19th century.
The first notable Sept. 1 came with Albus Dumbledore’s first day at Hogwarts in 1892, which Elphias Doge recounted in Dumbledore’s obituary in Deathly Hallows. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have plenty of memorable Sept. 1s, ranging from a dementor attack to crashing the Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow to meeting their worst nightmare in Dolores Jane Umbridge. With the trio now in their mid-30s, it’s just about time for their kids to go off to school. Albus Potter, Rose Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy still have two more years before they go to Hogwarts per the epilogue, but James S. Potter just started his first term at Hogwarts as a newly sorted Gryffindor.
Sept. 7: Doc’s (and later Marty’s) supposed deaths
Origin: Back to the Future Part III
History: Buford Tannen was so mad about having to kill his horse after it lost its shoe that he was willing to kill Doc (then the local blacksmith) for it. In the uninterrupted 1885 timeline, that’s how Doc dies, two days after Buford shot him in the back. But Marty stepped in and took on his fight, making his name appear on the tombstone.
It only took some common sense and some cues from Clint Eastwood for him to save his own skin.
Sept. 13: Roald Dahl Day
Origin: Roald Dahl
History: Nearly 16 years after Roald Dahl’s death in 1990, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity—which uses donations and proceeds from Dahl’s books to help ill children—launched a day to celebrate the life of the beloved author. Not only does it acknowledge his life’s work and the influence he’s had on people all over the world, it brings more awareness to the charity’s efforts.
Starting in 2006, on what would’ve been Dahl’s 90th birthday, people have dressed up as their favorite Dahl characters, hosted parties in schools and libraries, held book readings, and even put together the world’s first Oompa-Loompa skydive.
Sept. 18: Chase Matthews opens up the time capsule buried in Zoey 101
Origin: Zoey 101
History: On the second episode of the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101, which aired Sept. 18, 2005, the show’s titular character (Jamie Lynn Spears) recorded a message on a DVD as part of a time capsule the students at Pacific Coast Academy buried on campus. She teased her friend (and future love-interest) Chase Matthews (Sean Flynn) that she talked about him on it, but he would have to wait 10 years to find out.
Ten years have passed, and Zoey 101 creator Dan Schneider didn’t forget about that time capsule. He got Flynn and Chris Massey, who played Michael Barret on the show, to film a short video revealing what Zoey said a decade ago.
The only person not thrilled by the revelation? The girl Chase was about to propose to.
With a “To be continued?” message attached at the end of the video, it’s up in the air about whether this revived story will play out (and where it’ll fall on the calendar). But fans of the show already want more.
Sept. 22: Oceanic Flight 815 crashes
History: While those numbers in Lost—4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42—popped up everywhere and served plenty of purposes throughout the course of the show (including the flight number of the plane that crashed onto the island), the day that Oceanic Flight 815 crashed wasn’t one of them. It’s not until the season 2 finale that we even find out that date: Sept. 22, 2004.
It’s notable for two different reasons. One, it’s the same day that the show premiered, and two, it’s also the day of the autumnal equinox.
Sept. 22: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday / Hobbit Day
Origin: Lord of the Rings
Year: 2890 and 2968 in the Third Age (or 1290 and 1368 in Shire-Reckoning), respectively
History: Although Middle-earth’s calendar may not exactly match ours, dates have always been a crucial part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world—one with its very own timeline. For example, Frodo first encountered the Nazgul at Weathertop on Oct. 6—which he remembers because that’s when his wound begins acting up; same with Shelob’s sting on March 13. But Sept. 22, which falls somewhere between Sept. 12-14 on our calendar, is mostly a much happier one for both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Once Bilbo adopted Frodo as his nephew following Frodo’s parents’ deaths, the duo likely celebrated their birthdays together. And while Bilbo’s 111th birthday was memorable for plenty of reasons—not least of all his disappearing act—it was Frodo’s 33rd birthday that year, which is when Hobbits come of age. They end up leaving Middle-earth on their birthday as well.
In 1978, the American Tolkien Society officially declared both Tolkien Week, which takes place during the calendar week that contains the date of Sept. 22, and Hobbit Day on Sept. 22, although the celebration of Hobbit Day predates that declaration. It suggests celebrating Tolkien and his works through public displays in schools, libraries, and universities, by holding feasts, games, costume events, and even marathoning Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
Oct. 3: Mean Girls Day
Origin: Mean Girls
History: Aaron Samuels once asked Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) what day it was. You know the rest.
Oct. 11: Hallie Parker and Annie James’s birthday
Origin: The Parent Trap
History: Hallie and Annie (both Lohan) are identical twins separated by their parents soon after they were born. And while there are growing cases of people finding their doppelgängers via social media (and even a pair of identical twins finding each other after one spotted the other on YouTube), it wasn’t that they looked alike, but the fact that they shared the same birthday that they found weird.
Oct. 13: Treat Yo Self
Origin: Parks and Recreation
History: “Treat Yo Self” is the one day of the year Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle treat themselves to anything and everything they want (and probably don’t need), because well, they deserve it. And while the date itself is never stated, some fans use Oct. 13 as a marker because that’s the date the episode introducing us to “Treat Yo Self” aired.
Oct. 19: October 19
The fourth season of Community was supposed to return on Oct. 19, 2012, at least until NBC took it off the schedule about a week before it was set to premiere. And while it wasn’t the first time NBC removed the show from its schedule, the cast took some time to reassure fans in-character that although they didn’t even know if it would return, Oct. 19 would still be a special day… in their hearts.
As Abed says, “It just isn’t a date, it’s a state of mind.”
Oct. 21: The day that Doc and Marty travel to 2015
Origin: Back to the Future Part II
History: For whatever reason, this was the day that Marty McFly Jr. decided to try and rob a bank with Griff and his gang—at least until his dad steps in.
While Back to the Future nailed our love of nostalgia, it didn’t get everything right. We’re still waiting for flying cars, hoverboards, and self-fitting (and self-drying) clothes. But the one thing that may still come to pass? That Chicago/Miami World Series may be impossible—both teams are in the National League—but the Cubs actually have more of a shot at it than any of us thought possible (which is to say “a shot at all”), having clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2008.
Oct. 26: Doc Brown demonstrates his time-traveling DeLorean
Origin: Back to the Future
History: Sure, Doc had created a time machine out of a DeLorean, but before he went and used it himself, he needed to test it out with the help of his dog Einstein as a guinea pig and Marty as videographer.
They met at Twin Pines Mall early the morning of Oct. 26, 1985, where Doc successfully sent Einstein one minute into the future. Doc was about to get into the machine himself before he was shot by the Libyan terrorists he tricked into getting him plutonium—and Marty, trying to get away, was sent into the past.
Because Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985—nearly four months before that fateful October night—technically the events of Back to the Future happened in the future. And according to Bob Gale, who co-wrote Back to the Future, a group of fans showed up at Puente Hills Mall in Industry, Calif. (the real-life location of Twin Pines / Lone Pine Mall) at 1:15am on the morning of Oct. 26, 1985 to see if anyone would show up in a DeLorean.
Nov. 5: Remember Remember (the Fifth of November)
Origin: V for Vendetta (for the purposes of this calendar)
History: The quote predates V For Vendetta by at least 100 years, but Americans don’t really celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, which acknowledges the failed assassination attempt of King James I when Fawkes was arrested guarding explosives near the House of Lords on Nov. 5, 1605. Still, we sure do love to quote him.
In Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta, “Remember, remember the Fifth of November,” is attributed to V (who wears a Guy Fawkes mask), and for some fans, Hugo Weaving’s delivery of the quote was likely their first exposure to it.
Nov. 5: Doc Brown discovers time travel
Origin: Back to the Future
History: Like many major scientific discoveries, Dr. Emmett Brown’s came by accident. As he tells Marty in 1985—and Marty relays to him in 1955—Doc was attempting to hang a clock above his toilet when he hit his head on the sink and came up with the Flux Capacitor.
So good thing Marty was paying attention, or else he probably would’ve been stuck in 1955 forever (or until he was erased from existence, whichever happened first).
Nov. 7: N7 Day
Origin: Mass Effect
History: To mark the five-year anniversary of the original Mass Effect’s release, BioWare announced the creation of N7 Day, a day for fans to celebrate their love of Mass Effect, back in 2012. The date is intentional: The military special forces rank of Captain Shepard, the main character in the Mass Effect games, is N7: “N” signifies special forces and “7” is the highest proficiency level.
Nov. 12: Marty goes back to the future
Origin: Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III
History: This one date might just be the most important one in the entire trilogy. In the first movie, Marty has to make sure his parents kiss before lightning hits the Hill Valley Clock Tower so he’s not permanently erased at precisely 10:04pm. Marty and Doc have to go back to Nov. 12, 1955 in Back to the Future Part II in order to stop a teenage Biff Tannen from getting his hands on the almanac that will make him rich (all while making sure nobody sabotages the antics from the previous movie). After Marty goes back to the future, Doc is zapped back to 1885, so it’s that same night that Marty needs to find the 1955 Doc to help him to his next destination.
Nov. 13: Felix Unger is kicked out of his house by his wife
Origin: The Odd Couple (1970s version)
History: The Odd Couple was already a play and a successful film before the first TV adaptation made it to air (it’s since been remade twice; the most recent version was renewed for a second season). The narrator introduces us to Felix Unger, who’s been kicked out of his house by his wife.
“On Nov. 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife,” the narrator states.
Nov. 16: The youngest person in the world is murdered
Origin: Children of Men
History: Children of Men takes place in a dystopian future where the entire world is rendered infertile (to the point of worldwide collapse), so naturally there would be a fascination (and obsession) with the last person ever born. That was Diego, a boy from Argentina, who was killed by his fans after he refused them an autograph.
Nov. 25: George Taylor crash-landed on planet Earth
Origin: Planet of the Apes (1968)
History: In the original Planet of the Apes film, George Taylor and his fellow astronauts enter their spaceship in 1972 and travel hundreds of years into the future. When they land, their clock states that it is Nov. 25, 3978.
However, the timeline gets fuzzy in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. More astronauts land on Earth, but we’re told it’s actually 3955. Obviously somebody’s clock is off.
Dec. 9: Abed watches old Christmas specials with his mom
History: Abed Nadir, like many of us, has set Christmas traditions. Every year on Dec. 9, he and his mom get together to watch the Rankin and Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Except this particular year his mom doesn’t do that, instead sending a postcard explaining that she has a new family.
It all comes to a head in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” Community’s season 2 Christmas episode—which was animated in the style of Rankin and Bass, showing how Abed sees the world. Eventually he learns the true meaning of Christmas: that it has meaning and it can mean whatever he wants it to mean. So instead of spending Dec. 9 and the holidays with his mom, he now spends it with his friends.
Dec. 10: “It’s December 10th!”
History: Throughout all of “Comparative Religion,” a Community episode from its first season, Shirley Bennett is criticized by everyone for taking her holiday party too seriously as she tries to make it inclusive for everyone at Greendale who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. As they tell her, it’s only Dec. 10.
But later on, she’s in the midst of a campus-wide fight when one of the bullies attempts to stop her from beating him. He says it’s Christmas, but by this time Shirley knows better.
Dec. 18: Australian Christmas
Origin: Team Fortress 2
History: According to Team Fortress 2 legend, a man named Nicolas Crowder arrived in a newly settled Australia and, instead of staying there, decided to single-handedly invade the South Pole instead, where he is said to live to this very day. On Dec. 18, Crowder will kidnap the naughty children of Australia (while leaving the nice ones in their beds) and make them build him toys for the next 12 months. When he has lots of duplicates, he posts them online at extremely low prices.
So what does that mean for Team Fortress 2 players? They’ll get more content, festive crates that you can only open with a “special festive key,” and even the chance to play the game in a different mode, which started in a content update in 2010.
Dec. 23: Festivus
History: Although Festivus has been celebrated as early as 1966 after editor and author Daniel O’Keefe coined it, it truly became a cultural phenomenon after the season 9 Seinfeld episode “The Strike.” In this version, it’s George Costanza’s father Frank who came up with the holiday as an alternative to Christmas and its overcommercialization. Festivus: It’s for the rest of us.
It’s a full-fledged holiday, complete with such traditions as setting up the traditional Festivus pole, the airing of grievances, eating a meal that doesn’t involve feathers, and the head of the house listing the Feats of Strength. In recent years, some have really embraced the spirit of Festivus with their own poles and complaints; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will air his own grievances on Twitter.
Dec. 25: Decemberween
Origin: Homestar Runner
History: Decemberween is essentially Homestar Runner’s version of Christmas, held 55 days after Halloween, with a few key differences. They decorate a tree and hang up lights and garlands, and they even sing songs with the same melody as our Christmas carols, but the traditional food for this day is bunny. Also, the gifts are much different, and sometimes Decemberween can occur in July.
But if it works for the people of Free Country, USA, then so be it.
Update 11:16am, Oct. 5: Edited to add Felix Unger’s move-out date.
Update 3:15pm, Oct. 26: Edited to add Ghostbusters II‘s end of the world (Feb. 14), Idiocracy’s wake-up call (March 3), The World’s End’s first pub crawl (June 22), the murder of Diego in Children of Men (Nov. 16), and George Taylor’s crash-landing on Earth in Planet of the Apes (Nov. 25).
Update Jan. 13, 2016: Edited to add N7 Day, Roy Batty’s incept date, Alaska Young Day, and Dec. 10.
Update March 31, 2016: Edited to add Agent Cooper’s Twin Peaks arrival, Pokémon Day, Superman’s birthday, Kenneth the Page’s death, Alien Day, and Dipper and Mabel Pines’s birthday.