What First Contact Day Really Means To Star Trek Fans

Talk Like a Pirate Day? Amateur hour. Pi Day? Just an excuse to eat a Key lime or Boston cream. If you’re in need of a new holiday to defeat the monotony of everyday life right now, you’re in luck; First Contact Day is almost here. If you’re thinking the day might have something to do with aliens, well, you’re half right.

Canonically, at least according to Star Trek fans, April 5 is the day set aside to mark the Vulcans’ arrival on Earth. Bear in mind that the timeline of real-world Star Trek (dating back to the show’s earliest incarnation in the 1960s), all its iterations, and its fictional happenings is a bit messy. There have been enough versions of the show (and films) that each generation basically has its own memories (i.e., you’re a Picard guy, a Kirk gal, or a Janeway fan) yet most of the fictional events of the story haven’t even happened yet.

Notably, April 5 not only marks the day Vulcans first visited Earth, it’s also the day that fictional scientist Zefram Cochrane first hit warp drive in his spacecraft, says CNET. Hence all the celebrations. Only this particular April 5 won’t come around for a long time yet — not until 2063, says show lore. We say it’s never too early to start the party.

Star Trek fans take any excuse to celebrate

So how do you celebrate a day that hasn’t happened yet? However you want to. That’s the beauty of it. A Star Trek marathon is kind of a no-brainer and the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, in which the Cochrane scene first appeared, is a fine place to start. But don’t worry about going on a hunt to find it. As Collider explains, this year’s celebration is being planned for you over at Paramount+ (there’s even a trailer on YouTube).

The relatively new streaming service is queuing up the film, of course, but they’ll also be showing a collection of “first contact” episodes, where new arrivals are introduced for the first time in the property’s various series. But that’s not all. The channel will also be streaming a series of panels featuring creators and stars (including Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner) of the films and TV series. Good news for those already up to their eyeballs in streaming service fees: the events will be streaming for free on Paramount+’s Twitch and YouTube channels, as well as on the free streaming TV service Pluto TV.

Celebrate First Contact Day your own way

Not a joiner? More of a go-it-alone-type fan? No worries. There are plenty of other ways to mark the date offline. As CNET advises, you can choose to toast the auspicious day with a glass of whiskey, the drink of choice for noted hard-partier Cochrane, or throw back some cheese pierogies, his personal fave. As for music, several sites, including Days of the Year, suggest Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” which was purportedly what Cochrane was playing when he hit warp speed. The Star Trek fan site Memory Beta describes the Steppenwolf hit as “a rock and roll song from Earth.” (Oof. Anybody else feel old all of the sudden?)

Finally, maybe consider brushing up on some Vulcan cultural knowledge as a good-faith exercise to celebrate their appearance. There are plenty of sites and videos online that claim to teach you how to do the famously incapacitating vulcan nerve pinch (though, spoiler, even startrek.com says it’s not real). Maybe just start with the iconic split-fingered Vulcan salute, so ideal for right now that CNET additionally suggests it should replace the much germier handshake option. We’re on board. No matter how you celebrate, April 5 is as good a day as any to throw those you care about an old-fashioned (or is it futuristic?) “Live long and prosper.” Happy First Contact Day to all.

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