Halloween may be the most famous holiday in October, but it’s far from the only one. And while the likes of I Love Lucy Day and International Day of Older Persons may not be as well known as their spooky counterpart, they can be just as fun to celebrate — especially since one of this month’s semi-official holidays is all about tacos. Here, for your calendar-marking joy, are 10 holidays to celebrate in October.
October 1: International Day of Older Persons
In December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly made October 1 the International Day of Older Persons. Thirty years later, the coronavirus pandemic serves as a daily reminder of just how precious our seniors really are. Take a moment (or an hour!) to call up your grandparents, aunts and uncles, or a favorite old piano teacher to remind them how much they mean to you — and maybe let them know that this year marks the beginning of the UN’s Decade of Healthy Ageing.
October 4: Taco Day
Yo quiero all the tacos. Whether you prefer hard shell or soft, meaty or vegetarian, the traditional Mexican dish ranks among the most beloved foods on either side of the border. While you’re deciding what kind to eat, study the taco’s strangely elusive history. From the origin of its name to the exact time and place it was first made, much remains unknown about the humble taco. And luckily for taco lovers everywhere, National Taco Day falls on a Sunday, so it won’t overlap with your regular Taco Tuesday meal.
October 5: World Teachers’ Day
Now more than ever, teachers are essential. Whether in actual classrooms or on virtual Zoom sessions, they mold the minds of the future while imparting the kind of wisdom not often found in textbooks. UNESCO created the day to honor educators in 1994 and announced that this year's theme is “Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future.
October 10: Chess Day
You don’t have to think three moves ahead to observe this holiday, but it helps. National Chess Day falls on the second Saturday of October each year, and it is the perfect time to give current world champion Magnus Carlsen a run for his money — dust off the ol’ chess board, perfect your opening move, or simply rewatch Searching for Bobby Fischer for inspiration. Chess is one of the oldest games in the world, which is another way of saying you're never too old to start playing.
October 12: Vermont Day
Did you know that Vermont was an independent republic from 1777 to 1791 (even if Congress was loath to acknowledge it as such) and was the first state to abolish slavery? Or that Montpelier, with a population of just 7,855, is the least-populous state capital in the country? You may not spend much time thinking about the Green Mountain State, but there’s no time like Vermont Day to change that. As beautiful as it is small, the 14th state is best known for its maple syrup, cheese, Ben & Jerry’s, and Bernie Sanders, though that’s only the tip of the iceberg — there are also covered bridges!
October 14: Fossil Day
Only some fossils are dinosaurs, but all of them are awesome. Deriving from the Latin word fossilis, which literally means “obtained by digging,” these windows into the past are staggeringly important to our understanding of the world before we inhabited it. Observed on the Wednesday of the second full week in October, National Fossil Day is the perfect excuse to visit a museum or go down an online rabbit hole (we suggest beginning with learning how fossils are formed and ending with yet another viewing of Jurassic Park).
October 15: I Love Lucy Day
We’ve all got some 'splainin to do if we don’t celebrate this one. I Love Lucy changed television forever when it premiered on October 15, 1951. As the most-watched show in the country for four of the six years it was broadcast, the brainchild of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz has stood the test of time in a way that few other pop-culture touchstones have or ever will. Fortunately for all of us, episodes from all six seasons are on Hulu.
October 21: Reptile Awareness Day
Lizards and turtles and snakes — oh my! Though less beloved than the likes of cats and dogs, reptiles are no less important to the ecosystems they inhabit. Reptile Awareness Day celebrates just that, as well as all the compelling facts you may not have known about our scaly friends. Were you aware, for instance, that there are more than 10,000 reptile species, the first of which evolved around 320 million years ago and nearly all of which lay eggs? Even if you don’t plan on getting a chameleon as a pet anytime soon, October 21 is a great time to watch videos of marine iguanas giving underwater Godzilla vibes or remind yourself that komodo dragons are breathtaking.
October 27: Black Cat Day
Though sometimes thought of as bad luck by the superstitious, black cats are actually considered good luck in England and Japan. It’s in that spirit that Black Cat Day should be celebrated, especially given that the friendly felines (not to mention their black canine counterparts) often have difficulty getting adopted. While not everyone can open their home to a new black kitty on this furry holiday, it would be a good opportunity to volunteer at an animal shelter, remind your friends and family on social media that black cats should be loved rather than feared, or simply give your own pet extra treats.
October 30: Frankenstein Friday
Rather than getting into an argument about whether or not this should actually be called Frankenstein’s Monster Friday, set the pedantry aside for a day and celebrate Mary Shelley’s most enduring creation. Taking place on the last Friday of October, this horrific holiday is best observed by reading your favorite excerpts from the timeless novel subtitled Or the Modern Prometheus (“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”) or watching one of the many, many movies based on it. The 1931 adaptation by James Whale and its even-better sequel Bride of Frankenstein are the best, of course, but anyone in the mood for something sillier would do well to give Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein or Young Frankenstein a try.