Not sure why I check what the nation is honoring on any given day from time to time, but sometimes it really pays off in amusement, inspiration, curiosity and bafflement. Who comes up with these days?
Apparently I am not the only one to wonder:
There are random and off-beat national days almost every day of the year. This prompted one of our podcast listeners, Katie Rowles, to send a question all the way from Australia for our series, “I’ve Always Wondered.” How do these days get declared? Who’s in charge of the list of days?
We start with International Talk Like a Pirate Day, one of the days Katie mentioned in her question. It’s celebrated across YouTube each September 19, and it turns out a couple of guys declared the day a few years ago because, well, they’re fond of talking like pirates…
“Because once you say something, it’s out there, you can’t call it back,” he says. Carnell submitted his idea back in 2006 to Chase’s, the yearly almanac that acts as a sort of loose gatekeeper for national days and months.
But not all national days are listed in Chase’s — the more extensive resource is the website nationaldaycalendar.com.
“There’s a couple ways it can happen,” says the site’s co-founder, Marlo Anderson. “Of course, a company or an individual can just declare it, and a lot of people do.”
Point being, really anyone can make up a national day, and there’s no accreditation process or government agency. Though Anderson says they don’t approve just any old day that comes across their desk.
“In the last year we’ve received over 10,000 requests for national days,” he says.
Out of the 10,000, he says they typically take about 20 to 25 days each year. They’ll focus on iconic items over brands — say, National Coffee Day as opposed to National Starbucks Day (which, as far as we know, hasn’t been declared). And they look for things everyone can enjoy or be a part of.
The most common request they say no to?
“You know, it’s my girlfriend of three months and she’s changed my life forever, can I have National Heather Day … that’s a very very popular thing,” Anderson says.
But most of these national days are recent inventions that have spread around on social media. As far as we can tell, only one of the June 1 celebrations goes back to before the internet: National Heimlich Maneuver Day.
“I do not know who wrote the article on it that made it come about,” says Dr. Henry Heimlich. He’s 95 and living in Cincinnati. Heimlich published an article about his life-saving maneuver on June 1, 1974. “Immediately lives were being saved.”
At some point, a day was declared, though he’s not sure exactly how. Heimlich is pretty amused to learn that he’s now competing with National Hazelnut Cake Day.
“I guess people could choke on that too,” Heimlich says, laughing.
Well, hazelnut cake might not be for everyone, but it’s your day — go celebrate! Take off your shoes, say something nice, help out a choking neighbor, and meanwhile, start polishing up on talking like a pirate.
I have a few suggestions: National string up your cat day, or pick a fight with your relative days. What about pick a random presidential candidate day or plain old honor the stupid day? Recognizable, noteworthy and celebratory, my entries ought to win the day.