Today is November 4th, and it’s the day that Alice went through the Looking-Glass. Carrollians and Alice fans have quite a number of “holidays” that they can celebrate throughout the year. What are these days, and how do we know about them? Read on to learn more!
January 27: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson/Lewis Carroll’s birthday
Born on this date in 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was the mind behind the Alice stories as well as many other fascinating works. Truly a man to be celebrated, and no better time than his birthday to do it!
May 4: Alice Liddell’s birthday and the day Alice went down the rabbit hole
Alice Liddell was born on May 4, 1852. It was the story that Lewis Carroll told her and her sisters on a boating trip that eventually became the first Alice book.
We also know from clues in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that the date of our Heroine’s journey was May 4. Alice says of the March Hare,
‘the March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad—at least not so mad as it was in March.’
So from that we know it’s May, and we find out it’s the 4th from this exchange at the Mad Tea Party
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. ‘What day of the month is it?’ he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said ‘The fourth.’
‘Two days wrong!’ sighed the Hatter.
I think it’s a very sweet detail, that Lewis Carroll would sneak a nod to the real Alice in by using her birthday!
June 10: Mad Hatter Day (part 1)
This one is easy — the tag on the Mad Hatter’s hat says “In this style 10/6”, meaning that the hat costs ten shillings and six pence; it’s a price tag. In the parts of the world that write the date in day/month format, June 10th is 10/6! I have seen people celebrate this day by dressing as the Hatter and sharing their favorite pictures of him online. It’s a good day to muse on why a raven is like a writing desk.
July 4: Anniversary of the first telling of the Alice story
While I participate in Independence Day festivities, I also think of the boating trip that Lewis Carroll went on with the Liddell sisters, which took place on this date in 1862. This is when Alice and her sisters begged him to keep telling the story he’d started, and although most stories were forgotten soon after being told, this one stood out to Alice, and she asked him to write it down for her. This became Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, the manuscript he presented to Alice and that later evolved into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You can read more about the boating trip here, and see Lewis Carroll’s diary entry for this date here.
October 6: Mad Hatter Day (part 2)
The same as the June Mad Hatter Day, but for those who write the date in month/day format! I’m in the United States, so this is when I usually celebrate it — sometimes I wear my Mad Hatter hat, and every year I take a selfie with the Hatter part of my Alice full-sleeve tattoo.
November 4: The day Alice went through the looking-glass
Clues in Through the Looking-Glass tell us that this book took place six months after Alice’s birthday. We know that her birthday is May 4, so when she tells the White Queen she’s “seven and a half exactly”, that would be November 4. Additionally, this quote suggests that it is the day before Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night
‘Do you know what to-morrow is, Kitty?’ Alice began. ‘You’d have guessed if you’d been up in the window with me—only Dinah was making you tidy, so you couldn’t. I was watching the boys getting in sticks for the bonfire—and it wants plenty of sticks, Kitty! Only it got so cold, and it snowed so, they had to leave off. Never mind, Kitty, we’ll go and see the bonfire to-morrow.’
The next day is apparently a momentous occasion, and it’s during a cold time with snow, so November makes sense. Through the Looking-Glass is my favorite of the two Alice books, so I especially like knowing it took place on this day!
I hope you enjoyed reading about these holidays, and if you know of any others — I’m sure there must be more — please let me know! Also, feel free to tell me what you like to do to celebrate these days!