This is the 40th post in a daily series. Read about it here and see the list of previous posts here. A new post about “Star Wars” has been posted every day for 40 days leading up to the franchise’s 40th birthday on May 25th.
For more than a decade, people have been celebrating May 25 as Geek Pride Day. That’s longer than fans having been observing May 4 as Star Wars Day and May 5 as Revenge of the Fifth.
The holiday coincides with the anniversary of the day the first “Star Wars” movie was released in 1977. But “Star Wars” is only one part of the holiday.
Geek Pride Day originated in 2006 when a Spanish blogger organized celebrations for May 25 throughout Spain. “Día del Orgullo Friki” roughly translates to “Day of Geek Pride” in Spanish, and one of the biggest celebrations that year occurred in Madrid. Among other things, the event included a live-action human game of Pac-Man, played by people dressed up as characters from the game. Because of course.
Since then, Geek Pride Day has become a catch-all celebrations of all things geek in the way that Star Wars Day on May 4 has been a day to celebrate all things “Star Wars.” Similarly, companies have found the day to be just as profitable.
From the perspective of “Star Wars” fans, it’s a fitting day, because as I said earlier, Episode IV was released on May 25, 1977. If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know this entire series is predicated on that date.
But May 25 is an appropriate day to mark Geek Pride Day because it’s also important to other fandoms.
May 25 is also Towel Day, a day to pay tribute to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and its author Douglas Adams. The holiday was created in 2001 as a way to pay tribute to Adams, who died on May 11 of that year. The idea was first introduced on a message board a few days after Adams’ death:
Friday morning I went to breakfast at Big Boy’s (mmmm, Breakfast Bar); oddly enough, we sat in booth “42” and had a good laugh about it being the answer to “Life, The Universe and Everything”. Later that day, headlines flashed the news that Douglas Adams, creator of the longest trilogy in history, had died. I was stunned; it was remnicient of the loss I felt when Jim Henson died.
Douglas Adams will be missed by his fans worldwide. So that all his fans everywhere can pay tribute to this genius, I propose that two weeks after his passing (May 25, 2001) be marked as “Towel Day”. All Douglas Adams fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day.
Make sure that the towel is conspicous- use it as a talking point to encourage those who have never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to go pick up a copy. Wrap it around your head, use it as a weapon, soak it in nutrients- whatever you want!
Most minds in the universe are constrained to the laws of Physics; let us remember those that broke the law and got away with it.
So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!
The holiday has been celebrated on May 25 every year since that first year. The towel was the appropriate symbol for showing appreciation for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” as towels played an important role in Adams’ novel:
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.”
May 25 is also a holiday for fans of author Terry Pratchett and his fantasy book series, “Discword.” The novels take place in the fictional Discworld, which is a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin. The world has its own calendar, much of which was expanded upon in “The Discworld Almanak.” The year is 800 days long, or the time it takes for the disc to revolve once on the backs of the elephants.
In the novels, The Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May is a remembrance day in Discworld, commemorating the People’s Revolution, which put an end to Lord Winter’s reign. Survivors of the Revolution wear a spring of lilac and gather at the cemetery to honor those who didn’t survive. Thus, it’s also sometimes referred to as Wear the Lilac Day.
Because of The Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May, May 25 became a day for Pratchett’s fans to celebrate his work. When he announced he had Alzheimer’s disease, Pratchett’s fans began to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s with the Match It For Pratchett campaign. In addition to wearing lilac in support of Pratchett, fans were encouraged to make donations to Alzheimer’s research funds on Pratchett’s behalf.
So, whatever your interests may be, Happy Geek Pride Day. Wear lilac, wave your towel, and may the Force be with you. And while we’re at it, live long and prosper, because on Geek Pride Day, any geek entity is fair game.