Why Do We Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day and Other Fake Holidays?

There are enough made-up holidays to celebrate more than four every single day of the year!

Got plans for September 19, 2019? You do now: It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day! So prepare your timbers to be shivered and wait… what? Is this seriously a holiday? What is this all about? And why, exactly, is there a formal holiday for not just pirates but for talking like pirates? You have questions. We have (weird) answers.

How did Talk Like a Pirate Day get started?

On June 6, 1995, John Baur and Mark Summers were playing a friendly game of racquetball when, for some reason neither can quite remember, they started saying “Arr!” when returning a volley. That quickly turned into other funny pirate-isms, like “Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!” You know, as one does.

The duo decided that the pirate speak made the game—and life—so much more fun that they needed to start an international “talk like a pirate” day so that everyone and their mateys could know the joy of imitating a parrot and calling your boss a bilge rat.

Why September 19th?

First order of business was to pick a date for this new holiday. “It couldn’t be the date we decided it; as any guy can tell you, June 6 is the anniversary of World War II’s D-Day. Guys hold dates like that in reverence and awe so there was no way we could use June 6,” they explain. So Mark came up with September 19. That was (and still is!) his ex-wife’s birthday, and the only date he could think of that wasn’t already taken by Christmas or the Super Bowl or something.

Is Mark’s ex-wife actually a pirate?

We don’t know! They never clarified this point! So for the sake of fun, let’s say yes.

Why do the rest of us celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Most of us don’t play racquetball and it’s probably fair to say that none of us were ever married to Mark’s ex-wife so what significance does this day hold to the rest of us? Enter famed humorist Dave Barry. In 2002, the duo sent their holiday idea to him on a whim and he liked it so much he wrote a whole column on the “new holiday” for the Miami Herald. From there, it swept the world like, well, a fire through the poop decks.

No, seriously, why?

“Talking like a pirate is fun. It’s really that simple. It adds a zest, a swagger, to your everyday conversation. Do you need another reason?” Mark and John argue. “Try it out. Let go, have a beer, burp in public. Say ‘Aarrr!!’ Feels good, doesn’t it?” Fair point, guys. Who wouldn’t laugh at these pirate puns and jokes?

How do you celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Well, for starters, you have to talk like a pirate. Not sure how? Try the Pirate Guys’ pirate speak tutorial. It will take you from “Ahoy” (hello) to “lubber” (lover, as in land lover, as in not a pirate) to “bung hole” (which is not what you think it is!).

After that, all festivities are up to you. They recommend eating some guacamole (as avocados were discovered by pirates), sending messages in a bottle (but do it in a non-littering way), reading a pirate-themed book, wearing a jaunty hat, or drinking some grog. And if you overdo it on the grog, we’ve got you covered there too: Here’s how to sober up, fast.

Why do we like celebrating fake holidays?

Talk Like a Pirate Day is just one of over 1,500 national “holidays” each year—that’s more than four holidays to celebrate every single day. Not to mention the five freaky once-in-a-lifetime double holidays we get. So why do we enjoy inventing and celebrating new holidays so much? There are three main reasons we enjoy made-up holidays, says Kathryn Moore, PhD, a psychologist at Providence Saint John hospital in Santa Monica, California.

Fake holidays remind us to be grateful for the little things

Gratitude has a host of mental and physical health benefits but it is all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to look for the good every day. Having a holiday, even a made-up one, is a great way to call attention to and celebrate all the little things that make us happy in our lives, Moore says.

Fake holidays give us a real way to connect with others

Finding ways to connect with others in meaningful ways can be hard in our modern tech-driven world but holidays have a way of bringing everyone together, Moore says. Even something small, like greeting a coworker with pirate-talk, builds a little bond between you. It also gives you an excuse to make a fun dessert or invite some friends over for a party. Not to mention made-up holidays are full of great picture opportunities for posting on social media or texting to loved ones, one of the ways social media actually improves your life.

Fake holidays are just fun

Perhaps the most compelling reason for celebrating fake holidays is that they’re just fun, Moore says. Unlike the “bank holidays” you aren’t required to celebrate all the made-up holidays, just the ones you really enjoy, she says. Don’t really love pirates? Check out our five favorite fake holidays:

National Pizza Day

Is there any food more universally loved than pizza? On February 9th you can celebrate National Pizza Day with a traditional pie topped with red sauce and plenty of cheese or think outside the pizza box and make a fruit pizza, a crustless pizza, or a dessert pizza.

National Puppy Day

March 23rd is the date to celebrate all puppies. Who doesn’t adore their big eyes, adorably clumsy walk, and pure, unconditional love? The Internet can’t agree on much but one thing nearly everyone loves are puppies. Celebrate by giving your own pup (no matter how old!) some love, playing with puppies at a shelter, or even adopting a little one. Just make sure you’re up on the 15 things you need to know before adopting a puppy.

National Leave the Office Early Day

Did you know that taking some time off is one of the best ways to improve your productivity at work? It’s true! And you can use this information to convince your boss to celebrate National Leave the Office Early Day on June 2nd! Note: If June 2nd happens to fall on a weekend then the holiday is moved to the first workday following it.

International Smile Day

A smile is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lift someone else’s spirit, as well as your own! Celebrate International Smile Day on the first Friday of every October by going out of your way to give a warm, genuine smile to everyone you meet and we bet that the good feelings will last longer than just one day. This is just one of the random acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.

National Cupcake Day

Any excuse to make cupcakes is a good one, frankly. But if you need a reason, December 15th is National Cupcake Day. Whether you like yours light and fluffy or moist and drowning in frosting, there’s sure to be a cupcake to please everyone.

If none of these float your boat, try these 7 silly holidays everyone should be celebrating.

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.