December 14 is Monkey Day! We may look just a bit different from our primate pals, but we shouldn’t forget that we share a common ancestor with them in chimpanzees! Warm up those vocal cords and get ready to unleash your wildest calls and cries in observance of this holiday, which celebrates not just monkeys, but everything simian.
When is Monkey Day 2023?
A part of the human family tree, monkeys are celebrated on Monkey Day on December 14.
History of Monkey Day
It’s a difficult task to pinpoint the exact moment that monkeys first emerged as a unique species within the animal kingdom, but it is believed that their appearance took place approximately 60 million years ago. This vast amount of time would pass, month by year by millenia, both creeping and speeding along, without the existence of a National Monkey Day! At long last, though, thanks to two pioneering college students, this would change in the year 2000.
Casey Sorrow and Erik Millikin, both studying art at Michigan State University, are responsible for the creation of this simian-centric celebratory day. Sorrow (fittingly) would admit to the Detroit Metro Times that he experienced a form of malaise around the holiday season and felt compelled to find a way to combat these December blues. After jokingly jotting down “Monkey Day” in a friend’s calendar, Sorrow took the idea and ran with it: when December 14th rolled around, he and his art school friends dressed up as monkeys and ran amok, putting on their best monkey impressions.
They would go on to incorporate ideas related to their newly-formed holiday into their artwork and homemade comics. Publishing these pieces online allowed for the notion of a Monkey Day to spread, and now, decades on, the day is observed throughout the world in countries including Germany, India, and Thailand.
What started out as a bit of fun has evolved into a full-blown operation. Monkey Day serves as an important anniversary each year for raising awareness of modern threats to monkeys, with entities such as National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and Greenpeace promoting the day. Sorrow and Millikin have also been instrumental in utilizing monkey-themed art as vehicles to serve this end, as well. Their work has brought an entirely new understanding to the term “monkey business!”
Monkey Day timeline
The word "monkey" originated in a German version of the Reynard the Fox fable.
Casey Sorrow and Erik Millikin celebrate the inaugural Monkey Day with their fellow classmates at Michigan State University.
Peter Jackson’s 2005 film King Kong is released on the fifth anniversary of Monkey Day.
Erik Millikin sends several works of Monkey Day themed mail to strangers; among the recipients were Koko (the gorilla that can use sign language) and then-president Barack Obama.
Traditions of National Monkey Day
Create Monkey-Themed Art
The first Monkey Day may have been just a few college kids getting together to monkey around, but the day gained popularity because of the art produced by Sorrow and Millikin. Carry on this tradition by painting or drawing some monkey art of your own!
Make Monkey-Shaped Foods
Bananas are the first food that come to mind when we think of monkeys, and cooking up some banana muffins wouldn’t be out of place on this day. You could also bake monkey-shaped cookies, or, if you want to get even further from a monkey’s natural diet, scoop up some Chunky Monkey Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!
National Monkey Day By The Numbers
200 — the number of monkey species.
50 — the number of monkeys remaining from the Cat Ba Langur species.
50% — the percentage increase in a monkey’s insulation after a grooming session.
200 — the number of Barbary macaques that inhabit Gibraltar.
50% — the percentage decline in the population of Barbary macaques over the past 24 years.
5 inches — the length of the pygmy monkey.
4 ounces — the weight of a pygmy monkey in adulthood.
25 pounds — the weight of a female mandrill.
Monkey Day FAQs
What is national Monkey Day?
National Monkey Day is a day dedicated entirely to celebrating monkeys everywhere! It was started by a group of ambitious and fun-loving college students in 2000.
Why do we celebrate Monkey Day?
We celebrate Monkey Day not only to give monkey-lovers the chance to voice their affection for these animals, but also to help raise awareness for the challenges facing the continued existence of monkeys in the world.
Which day is celebrated on 14th December?
National Monkey Day is celebrated on the 14th of December, along with National Free Shipping Day and National Bouillabaisse Day!
Monkey Day Activities
Primate, donate, celebrate
Help collect funds to support ethical animal research, primate awareness programs, or preserves for aging monkeys.
Go to the zoo
It’s fun to watch the animals we love so much, and many zoos around the country will have special programs and initiatives that focus specifically on monkeys during the week of December 14th!
Consume monkey media
From Curious George to Aladdin’s Abu, entertainment featuring primates can be fun for the whole family. So find an ape-propriate film and get watching!
5 Must-Know Facts About Monkeys
A tail story
One defining difference between monkeys and other primates is the tail.
Where they are mostly found
Monkeys are primates found primarily in tropical rainforests.
Among the species of monkeys that are endangered are the cotton-headed tamarin, the Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin, and the pied tamarin.
For monkeys, picking dirt and bugs off their fellow monkeys is a form of affection.
The smallest monkeys
Pygmy marmosets are the world’s smallest monkeys.
Why We Love Monkey Day
It’s a great day to monkey around
Feel free to interpret Monkey Day in a less literal way and use it as an opportunity to cut loose! Goof off, mess around, keep it fun… Everyone needs a good excuse to get silly sometimes!
It raises much-needed awareness
Though not everyone may know it, half of the 262 species of monkey in the world are threatened with extinction. Monkey Day plays an important role in educating people about the present dangers these animals face.
Monkeys are cute
Not only are they playful, intelligent, and friendly, but monkeys are also some of the cutest animals around!
Monkey Day dates