Ever heard of National Step In a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day? If not, that’s not exactly surprising. The unofficial holiday rears its head Jan. 11 every year as a way for children to — surprise — splash in a puddle with their friends.
Though there are some records of the day as early as 1998, the holiday was included in the 2012 Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac published and added to the National Day Calendar in 2014.
The holiday can be taken literally, with people in warmer climates taking themselves and their children outside to splash around in puddles for a bit, or it can be taken figuratively, with the overarching theme of the holiday being to take time and appreciate the little things, friendship and staying in touch with your childlike side.
Kayla Gauze, a junior studying early childhood education, chooses the figurative celebration to get in the spirit of this holiday.
“I feel like it doesn’t have a real purpose; it’s just for fun,” Gauze said.
But why does a holiday with no real purpose even exist? Ellery Pollard, a junior studying creative writing, believes it’s meant to remind people that growing up doesn’t mean sacrificing your childlike joy. Rather, it means people need that childlike joy more than ever.
“It’s something people aren’t necessarily supposed to do, especially as adults,” Pollard said. “We’re not supposed to go into puddles and splash around in them. But it’s something we found joy in as children, and so the purpose of the holiday is to remind ourselves of that joy.”
Both Gauze and Pollard work hard to find joy in everyday life. For Gauze, it’s spending time with her roommates and bonding over activities ranging from watching a movie to playing board games. For Pollard, it can be something as simple as seeing three cars painted with primary colors lined up together. Both agree that finding joy in everyday happenings is one way they stay sane.
In that same vein but a more literal sense of the holiday, Kimberlea Czulewicz, an junior studying psychology, lives by the motto “It’s the little things that matter.” She feels this holiday is a fantastic way to appreciate something so little that could create a chain reaction of an immensely positive impact.
“That’s something I’ve always lived by,” Czulewicz said. “With everything going on in the world right now, I would love to just go out and splash in a puddle if I knew that it would be something fun to do. I feel like it would help people to just feel happier.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent mob at the U.S. Capitol building and being full-time students, all three women have a lot on their mental plates. They believe a holiday like this can be a good excuse for them to do something fun with their friends or even by themselves to find joy in the chaos.
“If we don’t appreciate the little things, we’re going to get overwhelmed and just forget that there are good things,” Gauze said. “Right now, a lot of the big things that we normally rely on aren’t there, so we have to focus on those small little things to get us through.”
Not only for themselves, but Gauze, Pollard and Czulewicz believe this holiday is coming at the perfect time for the general population as well. They hope people spend the day forgetting all of their troubles and responsibilities and plan activities to help them find joy by splashing in the metaphorical puddle.
“You forget about your responsibilities when you’re having fun like that,” Pollard said. “You forget about the bad stuff that’s happening in the world. I think those memories stick around for a really long time. I still remember times that I was in puddles as a child. They’re just reminders of innocence and happiness without being encumbered by the real world.”