Weird national holidays

This thread made me wonder.
Every nation has its national holiday. The thing those holidays commemorate usually are the country’s independence, proclamation of the constitution or, in some monarchies, the monarch’s birthday. The usual, not very creative stuff.

What do you think are the countries with the weirdest national holiday events? I like the Swiss one; they celebrate an oath that took place in 1291. Until 1990, the West German holiday was the day of the 1953 riots in East Germany, which I think is interesting, too.
Your comments appreciated. Any more unusual events celebrated anywhere?

I think this is more of a religious holiday rather than a national one, although I assume most of Spain is catholic. I really enjoy the Semana Santa in Spain each easter season altho’ I am not catholic. The participants throughout various cities in Spain look like they are wearing Klan outfits of different colors. I don’t like the KKK, but the Semana Santa costumes & rituals are very interesting. I attended one year & must return for more!

Japan has a few weird ones. The strangest one is the “Ocean Day,” July 20, which has something to do with with the Meiji emperor having a safe trip through rough seas. It’s supposed to be a celebration of all the resources we get from the ocean. In reality it’s a “there are no other national holidays in July or August so take this day off and take your kids to the beach or something” day.

We also celebrate the previous emperor’s birthday. The current emperor’s birthday is a holiday too, but since that’s December 23, not many people benefit from it anyway. So we just kept the previous one’s birthday (April 29) as well. Hey, that’s tomorrow! In fact next week is the so-called “Golden Week” - May 3 through 5 are national holidays. May 3 is the Constitution Day, May 5 is the Children’s Day, and May 4 is basically a “nobody’s going to work on the day between two national holidays anyway” day. (It really is an official national holiday with no other excuse.)

Oh, and October 14 is the national Sports Day, commemorating the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. A lot of schools use this day to hold their annual sports festivals.

The only cool holidays in Japan are spring and fall equinoxes (equinoces?).

St George’s day in England has to be the weirdest national day, not for what it celebrates but for the fact that almost nobody celebrates it and most English people don’t know when the day is. If an attempt is made to mark the day, you can bet it’ll be half-assed.

For those who don’t know: St. George is the patron saint of England. St. George’s day is the 23rd of April, also known as Shakespeare’s (and my) birthday. This is St. George’s cross. AKA the flag of England

So, anyway on 23rd April, my wife and I popped into the local Asda store and were greeted by several cheap plastic Union Jacks decorating the place. I decided to ask about them. The conversation went like this:

Me: Are those flags for St. George’s day?

Store worker (SW): What’s that?

Me: Today’s St. George’s day.

SW: Blank look

Me: Y’know, St. George? - patron saint of England?

SW: Oh, yeah? (pointing to flag) Someone from the office just told us to put the flags up.

Me: You do know it’s the wrong flag, don’t you?

Around this time the poor store worker’s brain stopped working.

Taiwan gives strong weight to Tomb Sweeping Day, in which a family spends the day visiting the graves of their ancestors to clean and maintain them as necessary.

We celebrate Sinterklaas

One of Panama’s national holidays is “Martyr’s Day” (January 9), which commemorates the “Flag Riots” of 1964. Some Panamanians attempted to raise the Panamanian flag at Balboa High School in the U.S. Canal Zone, which led to clashes and riots in which 23 died, mostly Panamanians. (Most of the deaths were a few hundred yards from where I am writing this.) This eventually led to renegotiation of the Canal Treaties and dissolution of the Canal Zone.

Panama has not one but three Independance celebrations, all in November: November 3, Independence from Colombia (1903); November 10, the “Grito de Los Santos,” the first call for Independence from Spain (1821); November 28, Independence from Spain (1821).

Not much work gets done in November.

Hong Kong has tomb-sweeping day (Ching Ming - it was a couple of weks ago), like Taiwan.

Our official holiday is the anniversary of the transfer from the UK to the evil empire of China on July 1 1997, and is called (take a deep breath) Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, which gives you an idea of how much fun it is.

Is the “tomb-sweeping day” the day the ancestors come back for a visit? China and Japan both have days like that - we go to the cemetary, clean it up and then symbolically invite our ancestors back to our homes, or something like that. Not an official national holiday in Japan, but most employers consider it a holiday.

Melbourne Cup Day is pretty odd, in my opinion.

The whole State of Victoria (in Australia) takes a day off for a stupid horse race.

There is a country in North America with an odd festival involving stuffed turkeys, pies, parades, and tackle football.

I think the “Hungry Ghosts” festival is the day neglected ancestors (typically of other people, because of course you take good care of yours) come back, in a bad mood.

Ching Ming (and Ching Yeung later in the year) are simply times to clean the graves, offer some food to the ancestors, burn incense (and usually any nearby forests). I don’t think the ancestors are symbolically invited back home.

The important thing is, it’s a holiday.

Hong Kong has another rather unique holiday. Flood day or something like that. It’s not shared by the rest of China. It was a bank holiday and everything. Something like it was a day that flooded unexpectedly, and only those that climbed a mountain survived.

They have a holiday in Argentina to celebrate (commerorate?) losing the Falklands War (Islas Malvinas).

Can you imagine a day off in the US for the fall of Saigon?

We also have “Respect for the Aged” Day on September 15. So between Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Aged Day everyone is pretty much covered (except for those adults under 60 who don’t have kids…suckers).

As for the Japan list–I think you guys left out Greenery Day (often translated as Green Day, but not to be confused with the band) and Culture Day, as well as National Foundation Day (which commemorates the ancient, mythical founding of Japan, as distinct from Constitution Day which marks the proclamation of the postwar constitution).

Oh, and it’s :queen’s day today.

Yeah, but I was trying to stick with the unusual ones (although I was tempted to make a Green Day reference :stuck_out_tongue: )

That’s the previous emperor’s birthday. Supposedly the Showa emperor loved nature, so they changed the name of the holiday to Greenery Day after we got a new emperor. Officially making it the Showa Day would not be a wise political move, seeing as the Showa emperor was in power during WWII and was symbolically responsible for actions of Japan.

I would guess that Halloween would look pretty bizarre to those who aren’t accustomed to it. I mean, several cultures have “day of the dead”-sorts of celebrations, but the US one isn’t really geared around that.

Man, what a weird holiday. Cool, but weird.