As the holidays and year comes to a close, I find myself asking again a long asked question. What kind of holidays should be celebrated by a citizen, sharer, and commons advocate?

The need for an answer seems more urgent that ever for what we have is partly rotten and personally speaking, I need something different. As it is, many holidays have been hopelessly co-opted by corporations or they're no longer appropriate for public observance in a pluralistic global society. I've long restrained my participation in certain holidays, but abstaining is no longer enough. I seek a world that the makes sense to me, a complete world, one I belong in. This includes a calendar that celebrates the most important things to me and millions of others – democracy and the commons; the institutions that help individuals and communities provision themselves, get along across differences of all kinds, and strive toward self-determination.

It's time to occupy the calendar. It's time to celebrate all that we share, our commonality and our commons.

I have a proposal at the end of this post to do just that, but let's reflect for a moment on the value of redefining the calendar through the lens of the commons and global civil society. Occupy and its inspirations redefined geographic space and social relations through reclaiming public space and consensus decision making. It reminded us that space and the political process should be for all people, not just the monied few.

This has had an enormous impact on political dialog across the globe. Occupy has served as a credible rejection of the current order. There's now broad public recognition that social contract is broken and something entirely new is needed.

If something entirely new is needed, then it follows that a new calendar is needed. To observe old holidays or observe them in debased ways supports that which oppresses and drains energy needed for change. And if occupying physical space and redefining social relations on a peer basis has had such a profound impact, imagine the power of occupying time.

Also, consider that calendars reinforce a social order. Take for example the Catholic calendar. You can celebrate 22 of 31 days in December alone. In fact, a large majority of calendar days are significant for one reason or another. Among these are feast days for saints. And since there are over 10,000 saints, each feast day commemorates multiple saints. Each saint represents a unique facet of the Catholic experience. Through feast days and other commemorations, which occupy almost the entire calendar, a complete world is signified.

Another powerful example is the industrial-era imposition of railway time and how that changed the way people experienced everyday life. The coordination of railway service depended on standardizing time across geographies. Railway service and standard time were essential to creating national and international market economies. 

So, if we're to create a new civilization that works for everybody, then we need a calendar that speaks to the experience of making that world real on a weekly if not daily basis.

That said, I know only a few days to celebrate the commons and global civil society. While I want a new calendar, my existing ideas still reflect a religious, patriotic, and consumerist worldview that I've left or I'm leaving behind. So if you share even a tiny bit of what I'm feeling, please share in comments ideas for days to celebrate citizenship, the commons, and sharing.

Note that I don't see these days replacing existing holidays, even if that was possible. Rather a calendar of the commons can run parallel offering new celebratory options for those that want to strengthen the commons.  

Below are some ideas to get us started. Things to celebrate might include birthdays of significant commons advocates, types of commons, or social innovations that help us share like families or cooperatives. Or add to potential holidays "this day in sharing history" ideas. All ideas are welcome. If we get enough responses, Shareable's editors will begin mentioning significant days in our weekly "This Week in Sharing" posts.

Suggestions for a Calendar of the Commons: 

  • July, each first Saturday – International Day of Cooperatives
  • October 29th, the first link on ARPANET was establish on this day in 1969, perhaps the birthday of the Internet. 
  • Election days should be holidays so market activities do not interfere with voting. Election Day is already a civic holiday in Guyana, some US states, and probably other places too.
  • Need a day to celebrate the Free and Open Source Software movement.  Any suggestions?

UPDATE March 5, 2012: Just heard from Nancy Roof of Kosmos Journal.  The UN apparently has an extensive calendar celebrating days, weeks, and years with issues that are important to their work.  Here's a list of days:


  27   International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust


  20   World Day of Social Justice  (as of 2009)      
21   International Mother Language Day      

8   International Women's Day  and 
 United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace
21   International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination      
21-28   Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination      
22   World Water Day      
23   World Meteorological Day

4   International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action      
7   World Health Day      
23   World Book and Copyright Day    

3   World Press Freedom Day      
15   International Day of Families      
17   World Information Society Day  (formerly World Telecommunication Day)       
21   World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development      
22   International Day for Biological Diversity  (formerly December 29, changed in 2001)      
25-June 1   Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories      
29   International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers      
31   World No-Tobacco Day      

4   International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression      
5   World Environment Day      
17   World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought      
20   World Refugee Day      
23   United Nations Public Service Day      
26   International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking  and 
 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

First Saturday   International Day of Cooperatives      
11   World Population Day      

9   International Day of the World's Indigenous People      
12   International Youth Day      
23   International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition     


  8   International Literacy Day      
15   International Day of Democracy      
16   International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer      
21   International Day of Peace  (formerly the opening day of the UN General Assembly, changed to a set date as of 2002)      
During last Week   World Maritime Day


  1   International Day for Older Persons      
4 – 10   World Space Week      
5   World Teacher's Day      
First Monday   World Habitat Day
  Second Wednesday   International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction      
9   World Post Day      
10   World Mental Health Day      
16   World Food Day      
17   International Day for the Eradication of Proverty      
24   United Nations Day  and 
 World Development Information Day
Disarmament Week      

6   International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict      
14   World Diabetes Day      
16   International Day of Tolerance      
Third Sunday   World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims      
20   Universal Children's Day , and 
 Africa Industrialization Day
21   World Television Day      
25   International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women      
29   International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People      

1   World AIDS Day      
2   International Day for the Abolition of Slavery      
3   International Day of Disabled Persons      
5   International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development      
7   International Civil Aviation Day      
9   International Anti-Corruption Day      
10   Human Rights Day      
11   International Mountain Day      
18   International Migrants Day      
19   United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation      
20   International Human Solidarity Day

Neal Gorenflo


Neal Gorenflo | |

Neal Gorenflo is the co-founder and board president of Shareable, an award-winning nonprofit news, action network, and consultancy for the sharing transformation. An epiphany in 2004 inspired Neal to

Things I share: Time with friends and family, stories, laughs, books, tools, ideas, nature, resources, passions, my network.