Happy Darwin Day

February 12, 2017

If you’re tired of the same old February holidays( ahem, Valentine’s Day), then maybe you should consider adding International Darwin Day to your calendar. Darwin day is a day celebrating, of course, Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin was a naturalist and geologist. He traveled around the world on the HMS Beagle starting in 1831, his study of species leading him to formulate his theory of evolution and views on natural selection. These led him to publish On the Origin of Species.  He was the first scientist responsible for making people aware of their place in the evolutionary process. While his work made a significant impact on the minds of the time, it also effected some of the greatest developments in health, philosophy, and  well-being. His impact on biology, cosmology, and the scientific process have been long lasting. 

However, Darwin Day is meant to celebrate not his discoveries, but his beliefs.  People find

Charles Darwin resting against pillar covered with vines.

inspiration from his intellectual bravery, his unwavering curiosity, and his desire for truth through scientific discovery. While celebrations have been held in his name long before his death, it was not until 1995 that celebrations of International Darwin Day began. It was not until 2002 that it became an official nonprofit, promoting public education about science and encouraging the celebration of science and humanity.  According to the International Darwin Day organization website, the vision of the holiday is as follows.

“International Darwin Day will inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. It will be a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.”

With hundreds of celebrations happening worldwide, there’s a chance for anyone to celebrate. Most are held on college campuses, and some are not registered on the official website.(That’s where Google’s your friend.) In some places, they’re simply celebrating, in others they are using the opportunity to educate their teachers on how to teach evolution. The Smithsonian National Institute itself is hosting a family scavenger hunt to celebrate Darwin Day. You can check for local events here, or google your area if you find none on the map.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”     -Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin believed in learning. He believed in change, in growth, and in taking advantage of every moment. While some people still stand against his theories, he had the courage to think differently than what everyone around him believed. That is what we celebrate on Darwin Day. We celebrate the passion of understanding the world around us, of learning, of not being afraid to ask questions. Charles Darwin can inspire the youngest of hearts and the oldest of minds by challenging them to keep going. To keep learning, to keep growing, and to keep changing. Therein lies the strength of species.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

                                                                                                                                                             -Charles Darwin