Douglas Adams, the creator of Britain’s science fiction franchise The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, died on May 11, 2001, but his fans around the world celebrate his legacy on May 25. Towel Day, as Hitchhiker fans call it, began just two weeks after Adams passed away, with a commemorative ceremony run by volunteer fans. Every year since 2001, more and more fans have joined the celebration, honoring a science fiction creator so dedicated to his stories that he was cremated with his towel.
Why towels? Among Adams’s cheerful and nonsensical rules about the universe, he writes in Hitchhiker’s Guide that towels are the most useful tool for interstellar travelers.
A towel [...] is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
This year, Towel Day participants either brought towels with them to work or school, or simply posted towel-related memes on Twitter. The best of those are below.