In the real world, holidays play a very important social function. They are one of the ways that societies remind themselves of what is valuable to them, often marking important anniversaries in a nation’s history, or acknowledging a shared cultural tradition. They play a similar role in many movies, in that they help to ground a fictional reality, creating an alternative one in which viewers can immerse themselves.
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Though fictional holidays are staple parts of many big-budget franchises, they also make appearances in smaller, more traditional, movies as well.
9 Durin’s Day – The Lord Of The Rings
In the fictional universe created by Tolkien, and adapted for the movies by Peter Jackson, the Dwarves are some of the most secretive people, keeping much of their culture out of the eyes of outsiders.
However, it is known that they celebrate a holiday known as Durin’s Day, and this comes to play a significant part in the action of The Hobbit. In fact, the secret passageway into the Lonely Mountain is only revealed by the last light of this particular holiday.
8 Purge Night – The Purge
The mark of any great horror movie is its ability to tap into the anxieties of the present. That is certainly the case with The Purge, which sets its action in a slightly futuristic America in which an annual holiday known as the Purge takes place, a moment in which all crime is considered legal.
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Although it grounds its story in one family’s struggles, it’s definitely this strange and brutal holiday that is at the center of the movie, and it shows just how easily even the United States could slip into a totalitarian nightmare.
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7 Gondorian New Year – The Lord Of The Rings
There are many great events that happened in the course of The Lord of the Rings, but arguably the most crucial is the destruction of the Ring in Mount Doom. Frodo’s final confrontation with temptation is one of the best scenes in the Lord Of The Rings movies, and so it makes sense that the event would go on to become a very important one in the Gondorian calendar.
In the years after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, March 25 came to mark the Gondorian New Year, the greatest indication of just how important this moment was to the peoples of Middle-earth.
6 Life Day- Star Wars
Even though Star Wars is arguably one of the most successful franchises in the history of Hollywood, it hasn’t been immune from creating its fair share of failures. One of these was The Star Wars Holiday Special, which was even disavowed by George Lucas himself.
However, the holiday at the center of the story, Life Day, became a very important one in the Galaxy. Originally celebrated by the Wookiees–focusing on family and peace–it would later become a holiday embraced by many others, especially after the fall of the Empire and the freedom that followed.
5 Boonta Eve- Star Wars
A key part of Star Wars’ success has been its ability to create a fully-realized fictional world. And, like all fictional worlds, it makes sure that various cultures have their own tradition. In this case, Boonta Eve is celebrated by the Hutts on their various planets, including Tatooine.
Among other things, the holiday was notable for including various racing events as part of the celebrations. Unfortunately, not every aspect of this holiday was always positive, as groups like the Boonta Eve bandits would take the opportunity to rob others.
4 Hogswatch- Hogfather
Terry Pratchett was one of the best-loved of fantasy authors, and he was especially famous for his Discworld series. In this case, the holiday of Hogswatch is key to the TV movie adaptation of Hogfather, one of Pratchett’s most popular novels. The holiday is a bit of an inversion of Christmas in the real world, and the Hogfather in question is a Father Christmas type character.
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In the movie and in the book, he goes missing, leading to Death having to take over his role while his granddaughter tries to get to the heart of the mystery.
3 Federation Day- Star Trek
There are few science fiction franchises quite as successful as Star Trek, which continues to produce new iterations to entertain new generations of audiences. As is so often the case, part of its popularity is its ability to construct a fully-fledged secondary universe.
A key holiday is Federation Day which, as its title suggests, is a commemoration of the founding of the United Federation of Planets. As such, it is a celebration of one of the most momentous dates in the history of the franchise.
2 Rex Manning Day- Empire Records
Even though it wasn’t successful at the time of its release, Empire Records went on to become the perfect example of a cult classic. As such, it’s not surprising that the holiday that is a key part of the story, Rex Manning Day, would become a means through which its fans could share their love of the movie.
In the movie, of course, the holiday is the attempt by a fading pop star to reinvigorate his fandom and, thus, is a source of mockery for the employees of the store in which the action takes place. The holiday is still celebrated by the fandom.
1 The Perfect Date- Miss Congeniality
One of the most beloved stars in Hollywood, Sandra Bullock has starred in many great movies. Arguably one of the best-loved, however, is Miss Congeniality, in which she plays an FBI agent who goes undercover at a beauty pageant.
Given its enormous popularity, it’s not surprising that it has generated its own informal holiday, April 25. This, of course, is a reference to one of the movie’s most hilarious moments, in which a contestant describes this as “the perfect date” due to its ideal weather conditions.
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About The Author
(1025 Articles Published)
Thomas J. West III earned a PhD in film and screen studies from Syracuse University in 2018. His writing on film, TV, and popular culture has appeared in Screenology, FanFare, Primetimer, Cinemania, and in a number of scholarly journals and edited collections. He co-hosts the Queens of the B’s podcast with Mark Muster and writes a regular newsletter, Omnivorous, on Substack.
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