A possible UFO signing in Bulawayo in December 1953. (Photo by Barney Wayne/Keystone/Getty Images)

March 20, 2017 isn’t just the first day of Spring. It’s also National Alien Abductions Day, also known as Extraterrestrial Abductions Day.

The origins of the holiday are a mystery. However, back in 2008, Toronto hosted an Alien Abduction Festival on March 20. Since then, the holiday has been celebrated on March 20.

In addition to National Alien Abductions Day, there’s World UFO Day on July 2, 2017.

Here’s what you need to know about the bizarre holiday.


1. The Holiday Has its Origins in a 2008 Toronto Alien Abductions Festival

Back in 2008, the Toronto-based toy company Happy Worker hosted the one-day Alien Abduction Festival on March 20. The point of the event was to celebrate “all things extraterrestrial & sci-fi, for alien fanatics and creative types alike.”

Happy Worker didn’t take credit for creating the holiday, noting that it existed before 2008.

“Despite our extensive research, we don’t know who created the day or for what specific purpose,” a statement on the Happy Worker site reads. “But we assume it’s the special day chosen by our alien overlords themselves. Every year on March 20 they swoop down and select lucky humans from around the globe for a personal tour of their spaceships, along with the unique opportunity to take part in various exciting testing procedures.”

The event included free UFO rides, an “alien birthing room” and “tin hat tailoring.”

Although the holiday continues to be celebrated, it looks like this was a one-and-done event for Happy Worker.

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2. 80 Million Americans Believe UFOs Exist, According to a 2012 Study

According to a National Geographic survey published in 2012 that was timed with their Chasing UFOs series, 36 percent of Americans – or 80 million people – believe that Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) exist. Just 17 percent said they didn’t believe in them, while 30 percent said they were unsure. ABC News reports that 55 percent of those polled think there are government agents – like those in the Will Smith movie Men In Black – who threaten people who report UFO sightings.

Notably, the study showed that 77 percent of Americans think there are signs that aliens visited earth.

But National Geographic executive Brad Dancer told ABC News that the study could be open to interpretation since a “UFO” doesn’t necessarily have to be an alien spacecraft.

“UFO doesn’t necessarily mean alien spacecraft,” Dancer said. “There are things that are unexplained. They’re interesting because they’re unknown. People love a mystery.”

The study asked 1,116 Americans 18 and over about their thoughts on extraterrestrials.

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3. 79 Percent of Americans Think There is Life on Other Planets, Says a 2015 Study

A more recent study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs shows that 79 percent of Americans think there is life on other planets. That’s probably why NASA’s announcement last month that it discovered seven new planets that could be conductive to life captured the public’s imagination.

The same study of 1,005 adults aged 18 and over found that 56 percent of Americans believe in UFOs, but only 45 percent think that aliens have visited the earth.

Ipsos also found that 57 percent of Americans believe in the Big Bang theory of how the universe was born. Also, 65 percent of those who were polled believe in the theory of evolution.

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4. The Fascination With Alien Abductions Began With the Story of Betty & Barney Hill

America’s fascination with alien abduction stories is traced to the case of Betty and Barney Hill, whose papers are collected at the University of New Hampshire.

The couple claimed they were abducted by aliens in September 1961 in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. They were driving home in the middle of the night after a trip to Montreal, when they saw lights flashing from the sky. They claimed they saw a large spacecraft, with two “bipedal humanoid creatures” inside. They tried to drive away, but suddenly found themselves in the exact same spot where they saw the ship two hours later. They had no memory of what happened in those two hours.

According to the Boston Globe, the Hills later underwent hypnotherapy, which helped them remember the events. In 1965, their story was published in a Boston magazine and they gained national attention.

Barney died in 1969, but Betty lived until 2004 and became a prominent UFO researcher. Their story was told in the 1975 TV movie The UFO Incident with James Earl Jones.

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5. There Are Also Theories That Animals Have Been Abducted by Aliens

As Collective-Evolution points out, there have also been theories that animals have been abducted by aliens, too. As early as the 1906s, there have been strange animal mutilations found. Many of them are cattle, horses or sheep, who are discovered with the blood completely drained from their bodies and specific organs missing.

You can find a list of common traits among strange animal mutilations here. The essay “Alien Zoos” by Preston Dennett also suggests that aliens are abducting animals to create zoos.

Katharina Wilson of Oregon claimed she saw an alien zoo when she was abducted in 1988.

“This huge, dark area we are in looks like a zoo except, instead of cages, they use big glass rooms. They look like displays,” Wilson told Dennett. “I can walk all the way around them… Ooh! I’m looking inside one – I see two gorilla-like Beings and a large cat. The hairy Beings are very tall, and they don’t really look like gorillas, but they are all hairy like them. They are asleep.”

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