IV: Happy Obscure Foreign Holiday

Today all of Finland is abuzz in celebration of National Sleepyhead Day.

Yes, you read that correctly. National Sleepyhead Day. Apparently it’s kind of a big deal.

I have absolutely no idea what National Sleepyhead Day (“Unikeonpäivä” in Finnish) celebrates or commemorates. Everything I can find about it seems to say that the Finnish came up with this holiday just for the hell of it. I can just imagine how they came up with such a bizarrely pointless yet entertaining holiday.

“Ok boys, we need a new holiday! Finland is too boring! We don’t celebrate enough stuff! Damn it, Bjorn, do you have to sleep through every conference? Ooh, that’s it! We’ll have a holiday for lazy, tired people! Bjorn, you’re a genius!”

But I’m only speculating.

The holiday is apparently somewhat based on the story of Saint Ephesus, who escaped persecution from the Roman Emperor Decius by taking a 200-year nap in a cave. Naturally, this led those wacky Fins to celebrate by waking up the latest sleeper in each house by pouring water on their head or throwing them into the sea.

It’s like a middle school sleepover, only everyone in Finland showed up.

National Sleepyhead Day is an especially big deal in the city of Naantali. Every year, the city selects one celebrity who has ties to Naantali and throws them off the city docks at 7 a.m. They keep the celebrity’s identity secret until they throw them in the ocean. Imagine waking up wondering, “Ooh, I wonder who’s getting thrown off the docks today? Maybe it’ll be a Kardashian!” So far, they have thrown every single mayor of Naantali, the husband of the former president of Finland (who, by the way, is known as the First Gentleman of Finland), and the CEO of Neste Oil.

So now you know that next year on July 27, you can throw a sleeping person into the sea early in the morning and use “Everybody in Finland is doing it!” as your excuse.

You’re welcome.


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