Towel Day

On this date in 2001, Towel Day observances were inaugurated to honor deceased British freethinker Douglas Adams, creator of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in 1978. It became a franchise of sorts including radio series and science fiction novels, TV shows, stage productions, a 2005 film, video games and comic books. Adams had died of a heart attack at age 49 two weeks earlier on May 11.

A towel is “just about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can carry” for practical and psychological reasons, Adams declared in the Guide. He supposedly got the idea initially because he kept misplacing his beach towel when traveling.

A towel inside a Tesla Roadster’s glovebox went along in 2018 on the maiden flight of the SpaceX booster rocket, as well as a sign saying “Don’t Panic,” an iconic phrase from the book.

Futurist author Arthur C. Clarke was once asked what advice he would give to all humankind if he could. “Clarke: The best advice I think was given by Douglas Adams: ‘Don’t panic.’ ” (Sci Fi Weekly, Nov. 10, 2008)

Towel Day participants around the world note the day in some creative ways. Some groups collect towels, personal items and cash donations for shelters and the needy. Making use of another iconic Guide reference, in 2023 in Bozeman, Mont., New Ventures Brewing released a beer named “42” (the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”). The beer was ABV 4.2% and IBU 42.

Freedom From Religion Foundation