3:30 Thursday, Projects

May the 4th Be With You…and Other Made-Up Holidays

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. May 4 has now become a sort of pop-culture faux Star Wars holiday, with a now annual tradition of people channeling their inner Yoda and flooding the Internet with punny memes saying “May the 4th Be With You.” This week we look at unconventional holidays—those created and recognized by the wider culture, or maybe just ones we’ve made up ourselves.


One of my favorite writers is Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home and Better than Before. One of her tips for being happier is to commemorate minor holidays – St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. As I mentioned on Easter, I do not excel at celebration, gift giving, or any other holiday traditions. That may be why I love the low-pressure nature of a silly or unofficial holiday that you can commemorate with an action, movie or talking in a funny way. I find that Gretchen is right and that it does give me a boost in happiness to celebrate for no reason and have special days to commemorate things like Star Wars, pi, Aunts and Pirates.

Some of my favorites (I’ve included lots of hyperlinks in case you want to learn more about all of my favorite minor holidays and celebrations!)

Google Doodles – I love that google creates a fun illustration or game to honor a person or event that I may have otherwise overlooked. I usually take the time to look up the event, person or occasion when there’s a new google doodle. One of my favorites was the google doodle commemorating the 155th Anniversary of the Pony Express!

May the 4th – Today! A day to celebrate all things Star Wars! I love the enthusiasm and creativity the Star Wars Universe inspires in people of all ages. I love the fan fiction, the costumes, the lore. So, May the 4th be with you!


Pi Day: March 14 (3/14). Pi (Greek letter “π”) is a constant that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. It’s an irrational number meaning it’s never ending, but thanks the the beauty of homophones, it sounds a lot like
“pie,” a tasty treat in the shape of a circle! As a lover of math, Pi Day is obviously one of my favorite informal holidays! To celebrate a little late, check out these math puzzles from my favorite math writer (yes, those exist!), Alex Bellos!

Aunties Day! The 3rd Sunday in July (which this year will be July 23rd) – I found out about this emerging holiday earlier this year. I know that my daughters have some very special aunts (and honorary aunts) for whom I’m so grateful. We have days to celebrate mother’s, father’s, grandparents and even siblings, so I love having a day to celebrate all the wonderful things aunts bring to our lives!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: September 19- Argghhhhh Mateys! Okay, I know Pirates are actually really bad. They steal, kidnap and do all manner of bad things, and it is probably bad for our society that they’ve been so romanticized in our collective imagination. But, I’m a big fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” kind of swashbuckling pirate fun, and I love that there’s a day to celebrate it!

3:30 Day – on March 30th, we at the 3:30 project celebrated 3:30 day for the first time ever, but hopefully not the last! I love having a day to celebrate my wonderful friends and our collaboration is a great source of joy for me! To me, a 3:30 Thursday (if you haven’t noticed, we post on Thursdays!) – is like the opposite of Friday the 13th! A day when lucky things are bound to happen!

Another day I celebrate is October 20 – the anniversary of my first date with my now husband. This day doesn’t have the weight or pressure of an anniversary or birthday, no gifts or cards need be exchanged. But I can note the passing of this day with fondness and gratitude.

I love that on these special days there is no pressure to decorate the house, have a party, wrap a gift, send a card (things I really struggle to get myself to do), but these days mark the passing of time in a fun way. Today, “talk like Yoda I could” and it would feel festive and special, not like “problem I have and need a life I do.” These little holidays highlight that what makes something special is our collective celebration. It’s fun when everyone says “May the 4th be with you!” – but it wouldn’t necessarily feel special all the time.


I’m not a holiday person.

I don’t hate holidays, I’m just not that into them. Take Christmas – it’s supposed to be a time when you gather with your family to be intentional about showing each other how you care. But I see my family all the time, and we’re good to each other year round. So I don’t appreciate all the pressure to make December 25th a profound and unforgettable experience. There will be another one next year, so just chill, okay?

If I feel that way about Christmas – the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans – you can just imagine how I feel about lesser holidays. St. Patrick’s Day flat out makes my blood boil. I will not buy and store special items of clothing in a horrid color just for one day a year. And if you touch me, god help you.

But there’s one holiday I love. In fact, I love it so much, I celebrate it every week. I invented it myself, and it’s called PLL Day.


PLL stands for Pretty Little Liars (Tuesdays at 8pm on Freeform). Here’s how PLL Day got started. First, I fell in love with Pretty Little Liars. Then I got my mom hooked. Then I found some friends who were also obsessed with the show, and we made a plan.

Every Tuesday we’d gather at mom’s house for dinner. We’d rehash last week’s episode and all our theories and questions, then we’d watch the new episode, and lastly we’d spend at least an hour after the show talking about it.

The great thing about PLL Day is that it’s very flexible. It could be as casual as ordering a pizza, or if it was a season premiere or someone’s birthday or both those things on the same day, it could be a whole themed party with a cake.


And an Instagram photo shoot.

But whether you plan something big or just order takeout, either way it’s always going to be a highlight of the week.

I wish all holidays could be like PLL Day. Not something to stress over, or make travel plans around, or cook a big meal for, or shop for – not something you have to make special, or worry about whether each person will have a good time. Just something to look forward to – a little time with people you enjoy, where the fun is built in. Something to get you through a week, or a month, or a season. And something it’s okay to change, or even to skip sometimes – there’ll be another episode next week.

pll invite
A hand-written invitation I made for a friend.

Just don’t ask me what I’m going to do when the series ends this summer. I can’t think about that yet.


Mary Margaret

Anyone ever played the silly game whereby you take three people and then deem which  you’d Kiss, which you’d Kill, and which you’d Marry? Here’s my faux-holiday version!

KISS: Email Debt Forgiveness Day

There’s a technology podcast I enjoy called “Reply All,” whose hosts created a holiday called “Email Debt Forgiveness Day.” The premise, as stated on their helpful explanatory link for observers :“If there’s an email response you’ve wanted to send but been too anxious to send, you can send it on April 30th, without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.” ( http://emaildebtforgiveness.me/ ) I only learned about their comical, yet grace-filled idea recently, so haven’t ever participated—one reason being that I try to be very responsive with email. That said, I once heard someone express that they felt “oppressed” by email. Not having a desk job where email is my primary form of communication, I can only imagine what it’s like to receive hundreds of electronic communications daily. It’s relatively easy for me to manage my inbox, but I know that for many in the modern world, email creates tremendous pressures and expectations. I’d like to kiss this idea because it opens up the idea of forgiving ourselves and one another for not being perfect users of our technologies, inviting us to break down some of the artificial rules we’ve constructed surrounding our communication via these technologies. Set aside awkwardness, guilt, and simply communicate- Just choose to reach out! I find this concept so appealing that although I may not greatly need it myself, I’d like to give it a smooch and pass it along!

KILL: Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday

I certainly feel oppressed by email during this annual barrage from basically every company and organization in the country suddenly instructing us to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! I’m sure there are economic benefits to this trifecta, and I’m not negating the positivity of Giving Tuesday as an antidote to the excesses of holiday consumerism, but I do find the timing and message utterly overwhelming. On the heels of a holiday of gratitude, we’re swiftly assaulted by the message that we do not have enough, are not giving enough, our loved ones don’t have enough; we must open our pocketbooks or miss out! The “holiday” also invokes an extreme competitiveness and covetousness between businesses and consumers both, which provokes strange anxiety in me. Nothing says peace on earth and good will to men like crowd-control fencing outside Target and people being trampled at Wal-Mart. Offering no solutions here; just saying these days make me want to hide out in a remote cabin somewhere until they’re over.

MARRY: Christmas Windows

Now that I’ve railed against Christmas commercialism, let me confess my beloved annual self-invented tradition of visiting the NYC Christmas windows with my dear friend Val. We’ve celebrated for six years, fanatically guarding our pilgrimage!We set the date, plot the route, choose a festive post-window unthawing spot…and in the precdeing weeks, we strictly observe the practice of “NOT LOOKING” in neighborhoods where the holiday decorations are. But the day is really only special because we make it special. Far more important than twinkling lights (which are awesome!) is this prioritizing of one another and time together, no matter how crazy the holiday season is. We give one another this gift that says: we do this each year together because we are family and love one another. I’d say any holiday based on that is worth committing to.