The Towel Day is a date celebrated on May 25 each year by fans of the books of Douglas Adams.
It was celebrated for the first time in 2001, two weeks after the writer’s death on 11 May of the same year. It later turned into an annual event, during which Adams fans carry a towel with them all day, an item that has its place in the popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series.
When is towel day?
Since 2001, fans of the British author Douglas Adams have traditionally celebrated the intergalactic Towel Day on May 25th.
Who started Towel Day?
In contrast to many other contributions from the calendar of literary holidays gathered here, in the case of the Towel, there is some very specific background information about who started it, since when it has been celebrated and why the date was chosen today, of all days. May has fallen. But one after another.
Let’s start with the initiators. If you try to get to the bottom of the matter, you will actually find a posting from the open-source forum Binary Freedom, which was published on May 14, 2001, under the title Towel Day: A Tribute to Douglas Adams in the depths of the WaybackMachine web archive proposes the idea of a tribute for the recently deceased author. This post was posted by a user named Clyde, assuming that it is D. Clyde Williamson, one of the forum’s staff writers.
As a result of this call, the creators of the forum around Chris Campbell registered the still active domain towelday.org on September 22, 2001, which acts as the central contact point for this memorial day
Why does Towel Day fall on May 25th?
Contrary to expectations, there is no concrete historical reference when choosing the date. After Adam’s sudden and unexpected death in 2001, the worldwide fan base looked for possible calendar days for a suitable day of remembrance related to the life and work of the British author.
Potential candidates were February 11th as the 42nd day of the year, Adams’ birthday on March 11th or the anniversary of his death on May 11th. Thus, the 25th of May formed a kind of compromise solution, on the one hand the need to give Towel Day a corresponding lead time or the possibility of dissemination and on the other hand to be able to celebrate this curious holiday as soon as possible after Adams’ death.
Over time, however, May 25th has established itself as a fixed date. Even if with the release of the first Star Wars film on May 25, 1977 and the Match It For Pratchett on May 25, 2008 there are or were two quite serious competitors in the geek universe (see also the contributions to the international Geek pride day.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Towels and a Standard Intergalactic Work
So much for the preconditions. But what about the towels? On May 25th, all Douglas Adams fans, oh nonsense, actually all of humanity – are called upon to carry a towel with them. After all, one must intergalactic standard work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy credence, a towel is ” just about the most useful “, which is available for travel hitchhiking through the galaxy. And who doubts the statement of an intergalactic standard work ?! I definitely don’t. 😉
Intergalactic standard work or not, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is realiter, however, a five-volume science fiction story by the aforementioned author Douglas Adams, which was initially broadcast as a radio play production on the British broadcaster BBC Radio 4 in 1978 (see also the article on the international Doctor Who Day (English Doctor Who Day or: TARDIS Day) on November 23rd).
Adams changed or expanded the core story a year later for a trilogy in book form, the parts of which appeared between 1979 and 1982, followed by two more volumes in 1984 and 1992. In 2009 a sixth part was published, for which Adams’ widow authorized the Irish author Eoin Colfer.
In the following all volumes published so far:
- 1979: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ( Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – 1981)
- 1980: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ( The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – 1983)
- 1982: Life, the Universe, and Everything ( Life, the Universe and Everything – 1984)
- 1984: So Long and Thanks for All the Fish ( Take care, and thanks for the fish – 1985)
- 1992: Mostly Harmless ( To Rupert and Back – 1993)
- 2009: And Another Thing … ( And something else, by the way … – 2009)
- The genesis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In addition to the original radio play and books, the story was also used for a television series (1981), a computer game (1984), a musical (1997) and finally a movie (2005). Stylistically, the entire series embodies a mixture of comedy, satire and classic science fiction story, the international success of which is primarily due to the author’s characteristic humor.
This also fits the story of how the BBC came about, as Adams had described it with the following story: During his student days, he worked as a temporary worker in order to finance his extensive hitchhiking trips through Europe. The idea of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was primarily inspired by the numerous guides The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe and took on concrete forms when, after a visit to a bar in Innsbruck, while lying in a field, drunk, looked at the stars.
The number 42 – last answers and towels again
Another indicator of the story’s success is its impact on everyday life and pop culture. And this influence is greater than you might think at first glance. What is striking in this context, however, is the great affinity from the IT and software sector to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which on the one hand goes back to Adams’ own affinity for technology, on the other hand, it also allows some conclusions to be drawn about the actual readership of the books. 😉
The best-known example in this regard is the meaning of the number 42, which Adams describes as the final answer to the deliberately left open question “about life, the universe and everything “.
Would you like some examples? The semantic search engine Wolfram Alpha, Google and Apple’s voice control system Siri actually deliver 42 as a result when entering/specifying answer to life, the universe and everything. 🙂 Further examples of these references can be found in the German Wikipedia entry on Douglas Adams. And so we finally come to the thing with the towels and Towel Day, which was celebrated on May 25th.