Thursday, 1 November 2012

holiday cavalcade: memento mori and yakety sax

Although November seems brimming already with holidays and observances, beginning with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, Armistice Day and the American traditions of election day, Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the season of Carnival—plus the general preparation and planning for celebrations to follow, which team up like some festive Voltron to really fill one’s calendar, the peripatetic and always interesting Mental Floss complements the month with fifteen alternate and off-beat anniversaries and fests.
On the coat-tails of Halloween and Dรญa de los Muertos, there is a rather morbid but necessary invocation on 2 November for one to draft his or her own epitaph, since that’s a part of estate planning more enduring than one’s will—what’s on one’s tombstone and by what pith and consequence one is remembered. The anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and awakening of the curse, by British archaeologist Howard Carter comes on 4 November, with the tumultuous remembrance of Guy Fawkes Night coming right afterwards. Later, on 14 November, as two more sort of macabre reminder, it is the US public-service announcement call to take back one’s unused and unneeded prescription medications to the pharmacy to prevent misuse, also possibly a cue to reassess one’s health and whether the meds are working, and it is the United Nations’ World Diabetes awareness day. To lighten the mood a bit, there are the interstitial anniversaries of the invention of the saxophone by Adolphe Sax on 6 November and following on 7 November another challenge one’s embrasure with International Tongue Twister Day. See the complete list at Mental Floss, but the month ends with day honouring Mars, the red planet—as our cosmological neighbour and not as a ruling-house or as the god of war, who already has a month named in his honour. What other holidays and occasions can you think of that are vying for attention during this time and might be a refreshing distraction from the mainstream holiday-hustle?