Weird History

15 Weird Forgotten Holidays We Should Totally Bring Back  

Kellen Perry
1.5k votes 312 voters 78.3k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the fallen-by-the-wayside holidays you'd like to see make a comeback.

Are you happy with the holidays we currently have? Or do you think it's time to bring in some new blood? We don't necessarily have to start from scratch - there are dozens of holidays from history we could just revive. It turns out there are plenty of old-fashioned holidays people basically don't celebrate anymore.

This list features alternatives to Groundhog Day, a Thanksgiving prequel, cross-dressing for fun and profit, and much, much more. Looking for a change from the tired old traditions your family has been pretending to enjoy all these years? Any one of the following old-school holidays is guaranteed to shake things up.

Lughnasadh: Three-Faced Gods and Trial Marriages
Lughnasadh: Three-Faced ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Weird Forgotten Holidays We Should Totally Bring Back
Photo:  QuartierLatin1968/via Wikimedia/CC BY SA 3.0

We should bring back Lughnasadh because it's a day where you can get married for just one year, no strings attached.

Lughnasadh (August 1), like Imbolc, is another of the old Celtic seasonal holidays. Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the harvest season and honors a three-faced god named Lugh. One of the most peculiar celebrations is the trial marriage ceremony: for one day only, by joining hands with your beloved through a hole in a wooden door and exchanging vows and gifts, you would be married for just one year and one day. At the next Lughnasadh, if you don't want to be married anymore, you can just call it off without consequences.

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Meal Monday: Feeding Hungry Students
Meal Monday: Feeding Hun... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Weird Forgotten Holidays We Should Totally Bring Back
Photo: Howard Chandler Christy/via Wikimedia/Public Domain

We should bring back Meal Monday because college students are still dirt-poor.

We might have to change the name to Ramen Noodle Monday, but the old Scottish academic holiday known as “Meal Monday” is definitely ripe for a comeback. The “meal” part specifically refers to oatmeal, which was the “main grain” of Scotland by the end of the 18th century. Meal Monday was the autumn mid-term break, a time for students to schlep back home and replenish their supply of oats.

The tradition survived at least into the 1970s, but reportedly “nobody used it to fetch oatmeal.” Instead of just a day off, why don’t parents today surprise their kids with a big box of ramen noodle cups, Combos, Hot Pockets, and a Chipotle gift card? It could be a hit!  

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Handsel Monday: New Year's Day, Part II
Handsel Monday: New Year... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Weird Forgotten Holidays We Should Totally Bring Back
Photo: Unknown/Perthshire, Crieff, Strathearn Local History

We should bring back Handsel Monday because it’s a cool cross between New Year’s Day and Christmas.

Handsel Monday, the first monday after January 1, was an old 18th century Scottish tradition where masters would give their servants presents and give them the day off. Sweet!

“Handsel” is a Middle English word meaning good luck or good omen. The handsel present was typically money, meaning even the poorest servant had a little extra cash to spend on Handsel Monday. There were feasts, drinking, and music starting at midnight, with young people marching through town playing fiddles and tin horns.

Inevitably, things would get a little wild.  In 1845, one minister noted: “The early part [of the holiday] is generally devoted to the less innocent amusement of raffles and shooting of firearms, which, being often old and rusty, as well as wielded by inexperienced hands, have occasioned some disagreeable accidents.”

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Lammas Day: All Hail King Bread
Lammas Day: All Hail Kin... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Weird Forgotten Holidays We Should Totally Bring Back
Photo:  Pieter Brueghel the Elder/via Wikimedia

We should bring back Lammas Day because it's a holiday that celebrates bread.

Lammas Day (August 1) is like Christmas for bread-lovers: "lammas" comes from the old English hlafmaesse, which literally means "loaf-mass." (As in, "Merry Loafmas!") It died off as a holiday in the mid-19th century, but until then it was a festival of the wheat harvest, and thus a festival of bread. People would bring their first loaves of the season to be blessed, but they didn't eat these special loaves: they would be torn into quarters and placed in the barn to protect the grain, like magical amulets.

Should we bring it back?