Globe Aware, which is one of the partners on GoVoluntouring.com, reports that about 40 percent of families turn its trips into an annual rite, though families make up only 15 to 25 percent of its volunteers.
Other faux-lidays aren't just centered on the traditional definition of family. Some surround friendship.
"Two of my good friends have birthdays three days apart from each other," said Jenny Des Jarlais, who lives in northern California. "They're the same age for just those three days out of the year. They consider it a three-day period of celebration ."
Celebrations of half-birthdays have become commonplace for kids whose birthdays are lost in the December or summer shuffle, as with Murray's daughter, who was born on New Year's Eve. Murray points out a related post on babycenter.com:
"My sister's and my birthdays fell at inconvenient times (hers is Dec. 21, mine Jan. 4), so rather than let them get overlooked or run together with Christmas, my family would throw us a joint 'unbirthday party' some time when everybody could come. And we'd usually watch 'Alice in Wonderland,' where the Mad Hatter explains that everybody gets 364 unbirthdays a year."
A new holiday dawning
Thinking about proposing a new holiday for your extended family? For 64 years, relatives of Jessica Hebenstreit have gathered for the Benz Family Reunion at Rathbun Lake in Iowa. Here are five ways they started and sustained the tradition.
Agree on a day that remains clear year after year, such as "the second Sunday of July." Once there's reasonable consensus, stick to it to avoid confusion.
Make the official celebration a single-day event, then individual families can tailor their trip to their liking. Hebenstreit's relatives start trickling in as much as a week in advance.
Pick a destination with some affordable recreational options. They don't have to be highfalutin. "People go boating on the lake, spend time in town; generally, the adults find their way to the local pool hall," Hebenstreit says.
Schedule some events, but not too many. A little bit of "corny" is OK too — it's family. "On Saturday we have a weenie roast at the campgrounds," Hebenstreit says. "Sunday entails a potluck, a family report given by a member of each of the families on the past year, prayer, singing of songs, games for the children."
Tend to business for the next year while everyone is there. On Sunday, Hebenstreit says her family passes a hat to raise money to reserve the shelters for the next year as well as to make a donation to the cemetery where their forebears, Charles and Anna Benz, are buried. They also elect a president and vice president who are responsible for booking the shelters and ensuring the reunion takes place the next year.