Lilacs, Lightsabers & Towels: A Celebration

What do lilacs, lightsabers and towels have to do with each other? If you know the answer without Googling it, then you should fly your Geek Flag proudly on May 25th. If you’re a bit confused, don’t panic. Keep calm, and read on. And if you don’t think you’re a geek, stick with us anyway. You may find you’re a geek at heart.

Lilac spring and white towel with Don't Panic embroidered in red

Don’t Panic from Flickr|Camilla Hoel, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

As any knowledgeable visitor to Discworld knows, the 25th of May is the day to remember those who fell in the Glorious Revolution of the Treacle Mine Road. Members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and others in the know, wear a spring of lilac in memory of those who died. What was the Glorious Revolution all about? Hardboiled eggs, truth, justice, and reasonably priced love, of course. Especially a hardboiled egg.

Terry Pratchett fans also know May 25th as Wear the Lilac Day in support of research into Alzheimer’s Disease. Sir Terry was diagnosed with the disease in 2007. So sport a spring of lilac in your label, and send a check for a few royals (dollars) to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. [update] Sir Terry died in March 2015.*

Who doesn’t love the sound of a lightsaber powering up? Star Wars fans have been channeling that sound all month, on:
Mace Windu

  • May 4th – May the “Fourth” be with you
  • May 5th – Revenge of the “Fifth”
  • May 14th – George Lucas’ birthday
  • May 16th – First official day of the Star Wars: Episode VII shoot
  • May 25th – Anniversary of the 1977 premiere of Star Wars

Episode VII opened on Dec. 18, 2015. You still have time to build your own lightsaber — a most worthy endeavour for May 25th. Or use these free files to 3D print your lightsaber. (How cool is that!)

In addition to your lilac and lightsaber, you will also want to carry your towel. Any galaxy traveler knows that a towel is the most multipurpose tool there is, and on May 25th, also known as Towel Day, the towel commemorates the passing of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Although Adams passed away on May 11, his fans organized a tribute two weeks later, on May 25th, carrying towels in his honor. For those who may think a towel’s usefulness begins and ends in the bath:

A towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”¹

And on May 25th, 1945, Arthur C. Clarke privately published a paper, “The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications,” suggesting that space stations could be used for broadcasting television signals. The paper was included in Volume III of Exploring the Unknown: Using Space.

Clarke had a word or two about Douglas Adams: The ubiquitous phrase, Don’t panic, was “perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.”

If you’re allergic to lilacs, don’t panic. Wear a lilac-colored towel as a belt, with your lightsaber thrust through it, keeping it close at hand. You might even give your lightsaber a lilac-tinted plasma blade, if you can find the right crystals.

Don’t think you’re a geek? Keep calm. Geeks are people who are passionate about something. Geeks are passionate gardeners, knitters, medieval history buffs… Show your Geek Pride on May 25th by doing something you’re passionate about.

Care to share your passion with us? Write about it in the comments below. 

* Note: This article was updated by the author on May 25, 2016.

¹ From Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Images: Don’t Panic from Flickr|Camilla Hoel, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.
Mace Windu: Unknown.

Technology & Media Manager, DPP 

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