This is the day where we celebrate absurdity. The definitions of absurdity can include many things good and bad, but I love the funny or bizarre but harmless variety. Although it is difficult to pinpoint when this holiday started or why, it is enough to say it sprung fully realized from the tip of a unicorn’s horn and spread about the land in all the colors of the rainbow.
History has always included the bizarre. Many occurrences can be absurd at the time, or accepted then as normal, but that now make us wonder how or what the protagonists must have been thinking. For example, when the postal service first launched in 1913, children falling within the shipping weight limits were permitted to be sent by parcel service. This is verified by photos and receipts, and although it was not totally common, it was an accepted way of getting the kids to Grandma’s house for the holidays.
National Absurdity Day is a day to have fun by doing, reading about, and celebrating absurdity itself. Use the day as an excuse to let out the silly antics hidden inside you. You can do things you have wanted to do that make absolutely no sense at all, and it will be okay because you will be celebrating this National Day. Do whatever absurd things you have always wanted to do, or that you just thought up that moment. Remember to be safe, though. You can take pictures and post them on social media using the tag #NationalAbsurdityDay, or not. You could also spell it out in grains of rice taped to a turtle shell, or compose an interpretive dance wearing a rabbit as a hat.
Inspiring examples of absurdity can be found in Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies, or others like Shaun of the Dead, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Magic Christian, Airplane!, and The Jerk. Also books like Waiting for Godot and Metamorphosis, or almost anything Roald Dahl or Mark Twain ever wrote. But my favorite movie that highlights total absurdity is a 1966 film called King of Hearts.
It is the story of Charles Plumpick, a kilt-wearing French-born Scottish soldier of the Signal Corps, whose job is to care for war pigeons, (messenger pigeons that have been drafted into the Army,) who is sent by his commanding officer to disarm a bomb placed in the town square of a French town by the retreating Germans during WWI. As the fighting comes closer to the town, its inhabitants, including the attendants of the local insane asylum, abandon it. The asylum gates are bombed open, and the inmates leave the asylum and take over the town. Then Plumpick arrives and sees the wacky town, so joyful, yet at complete odds with the rest of the war-ravaged world. The lunatics declare him the King of Hearts with accompanying pageantry as he frantically tries to find the bomb before it goes off. There is also a scene where the opposing troops catch up and completely obliterate only each other, accomplishing nothing. The lunatics voluntarily return to the asylum, because it is evident that they are saner than the rest of the world, and he decides to join them, because they are correct. It is a very enjoyable film, but it is totally absurd, both during the scenes in the sane world and the insane. It has a great cast, including Alan Bates and a young Genevieve Bujold. I saw it in a movie theater with my parents when I was about seven years old, along with the two cartoons that were played before the movie, Bambi vs. Godzilla, and also The Masked Man, which was a profane and hilarious Lenny Bruce routine that was animated afterwards.
That, and The Magic Christian, and various Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies that my parents took me to as a very young child, have primed me to treat every day as National Absurdity Day, (which I think must have been their fiendish plan.) But I can suggest some things to celebrate the holiday to those of you who keep it to the one day, if that is your current situation.
Suggested Activities (Click Links if you dare):
- Stream a self-curated bizarre Film Festival
- Spend the entire day speaking in a different accent without explanation
- Go have a picnic on the top floor of a parking garage, complete with caviar and champagne, should you wish.
- Go to a really weird museum
- Learn Blacksmithing
- Go to a farm and spend the entire day searching for one perfect strawberry to purchase.
- Ride a Llama
- Pick a word, any word, and spend the day saying it at the beginning and end of everything you say. Personally, I would pick “Mahna.”
So, use the day as an excuse to be silly and joyful, make absolutely no sense to yourself or others. Absurd…is the word.