Rapture Party Day
annually on May 21st (since 2011)
Harold Camping, former president of Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network, made a prediction in 2001 that the rapture—the start of the end of the world and the taking up of Christian believers into heaven—would occur on May 21, 2011. He predicted it would take place at 6 p.m. local time, and then happen around the globe one time zone at a time. Supporters believed about 200 million people—about 3% of the world's population—would be taken up. Camping predicted that Judgement Day would take place five months later on October 21. This wasn't the first time he had made a prediction for the rapture; he had previously predicted that it would happen in 1994.
Camping's followers began preparing for the impending rapture. They sold off their possessions, and some quit their jobs and spent their time trying to save souls. A retired subway worker spent $140,000 on billboards that told of the rapture. Most Christians did not believe Camping's prediction—they cited Matthew 24:36, which says, "but about that day or hour no one knows." Atheists in particular threw parties on the day, but other non-Christians and Christians who thought the prophecy was wrong also held rapture parties. A Facebook event for a "Post Rapture Looting" had over 830,000 registered as attending. The day has since become Rapture Party Day, and has been celebrated in various ways depending on the perspectives of the celebrants.
Of course, the rapture itself did not end up happening. After his prediction for the May 21 rapture did not come true, Camping changed his story to say the rapture, as well as the destruction of earth, would then take place on October 21. On October 16, he admitted he didn't know when the end would come, and he didn't comment after October 21 passed. In March 2012, he said he had been "humbly mistaken." Camping died in 2013.
How to Observe
The day may be celebrated differently depending on your religious beliefs. If you believe that the rapture will eventually come, you could use the day to witness to others about your beliefs. But, the day may also be a time to keep watch for people like Harold Camping who claim to know the exact day it will happen. Both believers in a coming rapture and those who don't believe can enjoy rapture-themed films such as the Left Behind trilogy, or its reboot, or the A Thief in the Night film series. The day could also be used as a day for preparedness in general—making sure you are ready for a natural disaster may be a good use for the day. But, as the day has the word "party" in its title, the best way to celebrate may be to have a party. Invite over some friends, have some drinks and food, and put on some music, such as "It's the End of the World as We Know It."