May is a wonderful time of year. The weather is finally nice enough to spend much time outdoors without feeling like you’re melting. School is finishing up for the kids, concert season is about to be in full swing, and flowers and trees are in full bloom. The only exception is the seasonal allergy issue, but that can be resolved so you can enjoy everything else the month has to offer.

There are so many opportunities that this month has to offer, so you better start filling up your calendar. Schedule time to go to the park, go camping, and find a reason to celebrate life. There are a few established holidays and observations that are a great place to start. Here’s a short list you can add to your calendar right now:

1. Star Wars Day — May 4

To the casual observer, Star Wars Day can come and go without you even realizing it. This is a special day for fans of the franchise that began in a galaxy far, far away in 1977. The cinematic universe has continued to grow, adding new shows and films even to this day.

Star Wars Day was born when a significant catchphrase matched a particular day of the year. A common Jedi farewell is to say, “May the force be with you,” or Good Luck in an astronomical sense. That phrase sounds eerily similar to the date May fourth. Having made that connection, “May the Fourth be with You” became an annual holiday for the Star Wars community.

You won’t likely be getting a paid holiday this day, but there are some fun — and extra activities that will occur if you search them out. Numerous theaters will show the original movies on the big screen for an authentic viewing experience. Some groups will get together to host costume contests or create custom lightsabers together.

2. Cinco de Mayo — May 5

The following day is another to be celebrated. The name of the celebration is also the date, which directly translates to May fifth. This is a Mexican holiday commemorating the monumental victory in the Battle of Puebla over French invaders on May 5, 1862.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is mostly celebrated by Mexican-Americans in the United States. It is now a day to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. The music, dancing, and food are of the highest caliber of excellence.

Even if you have no Mexican ancestry, you can still celebrate this holiday. Look for ways to support Mexican-Americans in your community, such as eating at their family restaurants and politely observing any parades or performances they put on. The embracing and honoring of each other’s differences is what makes America so great.

3. Mother’s Day — May 14

Mother’s Day is celebrated at different times of the year worldwide. For those living in the United States, it is always scheduled for the second Sunday in the month of May. The date number will change from year to year, but it’s easy to remember the exact weekend you should make some plans.

One of the greatest things about Mother’s Day is that you can celebrate it however you’d like. There is no general theme or rule you have to follow. All that is necessary is to express love and appreciation for your mother on this special day.

You don’t have to stop there, either. This is a day for you to celebrate your spouse, grandmother, or anyone who has been a motherly figure in your life. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that shouldn’t stop you from finding a way to make the most out of this May observation.

4. NASCAR Day — May 19

This is quite a unique holiday. NASCAR Day is about as American as it gets. On the third Friday of every May, racing fans from across the nation unite in their love of the sport. However, this celebration goes much deeper than just the racetrack.

NASCAR Day originated in 2003 as a charity effort. The NASCAR Foundation used the event to bring fans together not only to share their love of the sport but to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Over the years, millions of dollars have been raised and donated to a variety of charities, particularly those benefiting children.

This is a great weekend for NASCAR fans. However, you needn’t be a racing fan to embrace this obscure yet interesting holiday. Take a look at the NASCAR foundation this upcoming May and consider making a charitable donation yourself. Numerous families would thank you for your contribution.

5. Armed Forces Day — May 20

To continue the tradition of having holidays in certain weeks rather than a single date, Armed Forces Day lands on the third Saturday of the month. This is, coincidentally, the day after NASCAR Day, but the two are hardly related. One stipulation is that if the month starts on a Sunday, then Armed Forces Day will be held on the fourth Saturday of May instead of the third.

The first Armed Forces Day was held on May 20th, 1950. The purpose of this day was to unite the various military bodies of the United States under the Department of Defense. This day is also used to help educate civilians on different matters and to support the troops defending the country and its freedom.

Keep your eye out for scheduled parades and community events you can participate in. Better yet, look for ways to support family and friends who are actively serving in the military. It’s a tough occupation to follow, and any help and support is appreciated.

6. Memorial Day — 29

The last Monday of May is reserved for Memorial Day. This is the most solemn of May observances. On this day, we remember and honor the lives of those who have fallen in service of their country. Their sacrifice is part of the reason why we are able to enjoy what we have today.

Memorial Day doesn’t call for a party or social gathering. Rather, this should be a day of reflection and service. It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially one who is serving overseas and may have been away from home for long periods at a time. One day out of the year doesn’t fix much, but it’s a nice gesture that means a lot to families who have lost those close to them.

Many Americans appreciate having the day off for a federal holiday. While it’s nice to have some respite from work and school, you should aim to get more out of this day. Perhaps you could visit a local cemetery and leave behind flowers or deliver a meal to a local family you know. Even the smallest of gestures can go a long way.

Many of these holidays are well known and may already be pre-programmed into your digital calendar. Others, such as NASCAR Day, you may not have heard of until today (I hadn’t — and it sounded interesting). Do some research of your own. You can find many obscure days to celebrate, from National Chocolate Parfait Day on May First to World Hypertension Day on the 17th. One of these lesser-known May observances can become a new annual tradition and a family favorite.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Polina Kovaleva; Pexels; Thank you!