The Fourth of December is World Dice Day. It is, unsurprisingly, a little known event with no formal rituals. Only a handful of dice enthusiasts even know about it. I have not yet found out details about its origin, but I will relate what I can about its history.
Origins as National Dice Day
Before it was declared an international event, it merely was „National Dice Day“ in the United States of America. The earliest reference that I could find for it via Google was Chase’s Calendar of Events for 2005, printed in 2004.1 Chase’s Calendar of Events (wikipedia entry) is an annual publication in the US, started in 1957. It includes commercial promotions, which is maybe how Dice Day found its way into the calendar.2 Whether 2005 was the first year the event was listed, or if National Dice Day had graced Dec 4th already in previous years, I do not know. It seems possible that it was invented as promotional event by a toy company.
The date was picked up as a curiosity by The World Almanac for Kids in the following year.3
Gamers on the Internet
In 2007 gaming company Wizards of the Coast apparently saw a marketing opportunity. Mike Fahey posted about it on kotaku, and John Baichtal posted the holiday on geekdad and wired. Also, a Belgian user on BoardGameGeek created a geeklist for National Dice Day.
While it doesn’t look like any of these entries gained much traction, I assume these remaining traces on the internet helped propel the date onward:
Rolling Around the World
In 2010, dice collector and BoardGameGeek user Keng Ho Pwee from Singapore decided the event should be international:
I see no reason why the love of dice should be confined to any one country, so I designate todayKeng Ho Pwee, Dec 4, 2010
WORLD DICE DAY!!
Keng Ho Pwee started a thread and a geeklist which got the attention of Michael Schäffer, a German dice collector and, like Keng Ho, member of the Dice Maniacs‘ Club (DMC). The DMC is a community of collectors and enthusiasts, in its beginning also calling themselves „The Random Fandom“. The group was started in 1999 by British collector Alexander Simkin as an MSN group. In 2012 a Facebook group became the new home of the Dice Maniacs‘ Club,4 and it’s here that our story continues.
Schäffer posted about World Dice Day in 2012.5 Kengo Ho Pwee, a fellow DMC member, replied that he had forgotten his own initiative but was delighted it was carried on. From then on a few collectors remembered the date and posted about it each year. In 2015 somebody (Christopher Hoffmann aka Würfelschmied, I believe?) designed a commemorative die, and for five years a small print run of these dice were manufactured by customdice.com (see image at the top).6
Today and the Future
The commemorative dice were discontinued in 2020.7 Since there is no established communal practice for the date, there is little to keep it going. Then again, there never was much to begin with, and yet the event flourished through grassroot actions of individuals.
As with any dice roll, the future outcome of World Dice Day is uncertain. It seems clear that so far, no big dice manufacturer or toy company has adopted the event, whether on a national or international level. However, the activities of enthusiasts in the Dice Maniacs‘ Club have kept the idea alive, and helped spread it. Let’s roll with it and see what to do with December 4 in years to come…
- Chase’s Calendar of Events 2005, McGraw Hill Professional, 2004, p. 612. ISBN 0071460020, ISBN 9780071460026
- Compare Kim Severson’s article on food days in Chase’s Calendar: Having a Snack? Make It a Holiday. The New York Times, nytimes.com, May 30, 2007.
- The World Almanac for Kids 2006, ed. by Kevin Seabrooke, World Almanac Books, 2005, p. 107 (according to Google Book search, but without any preview). ISBN 0886879604, ISBN 9780886879600 – Shelle Russell: The World Almanac for Kids: Charts and Graphs. Teacher Created Resources, 2006, p. 64. ISBN 1420680161, ISBN 9781420680164
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/495044377203084/ – not visible to the public.
- Christopher Hoffmann uploaded a WDD template STL file to thingiverse in 2019, for dicemakers.
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/4931223326918478 – not visible to the public.