Thanksgiving isn’t the only holiday in November. Before you indulge in stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, make sure you peruse this list of alternative holidays to observe this month — some will calm you, others may inspire you, and all will make an otherwise normal day special.
November 1: World Vegan Day
You don’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian to go meatless once in a while. With that in mind, consider kicking off November with World Vegan Day and abstain from all animal products for a full 24 hours — not just meat but dairy, eggs, and even honey. If that’s too tall of an order, there’s no better time to educate yourself on the subject of veganism. Learn the differences between moral and environmental vegetarianism, read up on the founding of the Vegan Society in 1941, or perhaps just find some surprisingly delicious recipes that work for you.
November 1: National Author’s Day
Whether you go vegan or not, the first day of the month is also National Author's Day. How you celebrate your favorite author is entirely up to you, but allow us to suggest rereading a favorite chapter by a beloved writer, starting a new book, or picking up a copy from an independent bookstore (check out Bookshop to order online from any number of independent retailers). This holiday dates back to 1928, when Nellie Verne Burt McPherson of the Bement, Illinois Women's Club came up with the idea; the General Federation of Women's Clubs passed a resolution to honor American writers with National Author’s Day the following year, and the United States Department of Commerce recognized the occasion in 1949.
November 4: National Stress Awareness Day
Just as it would be an understatement to call 2020 a stressful year, so too would it be putting it mildly to say that we could all use a day to center ourselves. Observed the first Wednesday of November, National Stress Awareness Day has been an occasion to do just that since it was first founded by Carole Spiers of the International Stress Management Association. However you destress — a long walk with your dog, breathing exercises, a leisurely bath — take at least a few moments to yourself and consider making it part of your daily routine.
November 7: National Bison Day
Fun fact: Bison and buffaloes are not the same thing, and there’s a good chance you’ve been mixing them up your whole life. The large, majestic creature known as a symbol of the American frontier is very much a bison, not a buffalo. Nearly driven to extinction in the 19th century, bison managed to avoid that perilous fate via conservation efforts and a number of reintroductions into the wild, and we honor them on the first Saturday of November. National Bison Day is the perfect time to celebrate their recovery, as well as the fact that President Obama signed a law recognizing them as our national mammal.
November 13: World Kindness Day
We should be kind to one another every day, but a gentle reminder never hurt anybody. World Kindness Day comes to us courtesy of the World Kindness Movement, which came up with the occasion in 1998 and has helped it spread to at least 29 countries across the globe. If you’re looking for ways to commemorate the holiday, consider a random act of kindness like donating shoes and warm clothes to a homeless shelter, writing a letter to someone you appreciate, or bringing some birdseed (not bread!) to a nearby park and feeding the sparrows.
November 16: International Day for Tolerance
The year of 1995 was the United Nations Year for Tolerance, and on November 16 of that same year, the Declaration of Tolerance was adopted by UNESCO. It was a fitting occasion since the U.N. was celebrating its 50th anniversary — and the need for such a day is no less important 25 years later. It can be easy to feel powerless in the face of rising tensions worldwide, but small acts can have lasting effects.
November 20: National Absurdity Day
Fans of Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, and Franz Kafka will be especially excited for National Absurdity Day, the one date on the calendar when the world seeming upside down is something to celebrate rather than dread. Whether you reread Waiting for Godot or spend all of November 20 speaking backwards, now’s your chance to revel in the oddities that make life so interesting.
November 25: National Jukebox Day
For readers of a certain age, jukeboxes are unfamiliar relics of the past in the same vein as rotary telephones and typewriters. For others, they’re nostalgic reminders of a simpler time. Whichever group you fall into, see if you can’t find a jukebox near you to feed some quarters — those Elvis songs aren’t going to play themselves. If that’s not an option, tell Alexa to play some oldies-but-goodies and let your imagination do the rest.
November 27: National Native American Heritage Day
The story of Thanksgiving is almost always told from the pilgrims’ point of view, which is just part of what makes Native American Heritage Day so important. Officially taking place the day after Thanksgiving since 2008, it was signed into law 12 years ago after being endorsed by 184 federally recognized tribes. The holiday’s full history goes back to 1914, when Red Fox James of the Blackfoot tribe unsuccessfully sought to create such a day. There’s no reason to limit your observance to just one day, though: All of November has been set aside as Native American Heritage Month since 1990.
November 28: Small Business Saturday
Few of us would argue that the holidays have become too commercialized in recent years and decades — a trend that many companies have picked up on. Black Friday, which has grown especially chaotic, has been canceled at many stores. But if you’re looking to get some shopping done, Small Business Saturday is the way to go. Shopping locally is always a good thing, but that’s especially true during a pandemic that has made keeping small businesses alive all the more difficult. There’s never been a better time to prop up the companies that add charm and character to your community.