Happy Darwin Day, Everyone!

One of the things I like about celebrating obscure or non-mainstream holidays is that you get to make up your own traditions. Today, February 12th, is Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday, and in my house we celebrate it with food, puns, and entertainment. (Actually, that’s how I celebrate most of my holidays, just with different themes.) Also, Darwin Day is an excellent alternative to Valentine’s Day!

There are groups of people all over the world who celebrate Darwin Day by having group parties or lecture series about evolution, and you can search here to see if someone in your town has registered an event. However, if you’re like me and you like to celebrate holidays at home (or with a small group of friends), here’s what I do:


  1. The Survival of the Feast-est: This is a traditional meal where I order all of my favorite or want-to-try takeout food from a local restaurant and pig out. This year, I’m thinking of doing Chinese food (American-style, because sometimes I like fried pieces of food in sauce). Other ideas: Indian food, dim sum, one of those sushi party boats, or a mess of Southern BBQ (Carolina-style, not Texas). As long as it’s good and it’s a feast, DO IT! But save room for the next tradition.
  2. Common Dessert: My traditional dessert is something with cake that I may or may not have decorated to look like Darwin. This year, I was thinking ahead and so I had enough time to make my cake look pretty (see above). I bought the base from a bakery (chocolate cake with Italian cream frosting and a raspberry chambord filling) but the decoration is all mine. (If you look closely, you’ll see the part of the cake where my cat sat on the box and smushed the top layer of frosting a bit.) It doesn’t have to be homemade, it just has to be good. Splurge a little, Darwin Day is only once a year!
  3. A Natural Selection of … : This is a newer tradition we started last year by watching a selection of Oscar-nominated short films. I would totally recommend doing that, by the way, especially because it introduced me to Tuba Atlantic–see below. But I didn’t get movie tickets this year and the short films don’t come on cable until Feb. 19th, so instead I’m just picking an assortment of shows I’ve been meaning to watch. So far, I have House of Cards on my list and that’s about it.

So, I’m out of puns and I’m full of delicious food. Do you have any other Darwin/evolution-related* ideas to suggest? Or any movie/TV show suggestions?

*Disclaimer: I know these traditions are only tertiarily-related to the science behind evolution, but my husband and I are biologists, so I think we’re good for now.

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. The Survival of the Feast-est (Veggie Dumplings, Orange Chicken, Mango Duck, and Fried Rice) and the Common Dessert (the chocolate cake pictured above) are complete! I think I’m starting to feel some “selective pressure” in my belleh now.

  2. Mary
    Off course if Darwin Day ever becomes an official holiday here in the states, our creationists are going to have a field day.

  3. One thing that one could do is a Phylum Feast — to eat organisms scattered across the family tree of life. Especially offbeat ones like spirulina (cyanobacteria) and kelp (stramenopiles).

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