"[A]ny man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with." - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
When science-fiction writer Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and much much more, keeled over from a massive heart attack while exercising on May 11 2001, this holiday--Towel Day--was born!
And, even though he died on May 11, it is celebrated today, May 25, as an homage to the author.
The towel is taken from the novel, and is a reference to the character's, Ford Prefect's, proclivity for taking a traveling towel with him wherever he went in the the galaxy. Ford instructs the main character, Arthur Dent, on the tremendous importance and uses of the towel. Arthur is encouraged to never be without one, for anyone who is anyone takes a towel with him wherever he travels in the universe.
The holiday is celebrated by wearing or carrying a bath towel (around the neck or tucked into a waistband) all day long, but there are other ways to celebrate.
For instance, one could quote the novel throughout the day, or work into conversations it's many short expressions:
- "Mostly harmless"
- "So long, and thanks for all the fish"
- "DONT PANIC"
- "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
- "Life, the Universe, and Everything."
- See how many questions to the answer "42" you can devise
- Figure out the meaning of Life (the Universe and Everything).
- Attack people with your towel. (This reenacts the scene where Ford is attacking the Vogon with his towel and the Vogon yells, "He's got a TOWEL!")
- Hang banners that say, "DON'T PANIC"
Photo, Wikimedia Commons, Beny Schlevich
Here is a video with detailed instructions for using a galactic traveling towel properly.
Towel Day has it's own website towelday.org; and a Wiki Page. Here are Hitchhiker's-related books. You might want to look at FAQ about the holiday.