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An excess of national “days” leaves me dazed

David Colburn
Posted 4/29/20

It’s purely serendipitous that I’m writing this column on what turns out to be National Blueberry Pie Day, April 28, as anyone who’s known me for years will tell you I’d do …

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An excess of national “days” leaves me dazed

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It’s purely serendipitous that I’m writing this column on what turns out to be National Blueberry Pie Day, April 28, as anyone who’s known me for years will tell you I’d do just about anything for a slice of blueberry pie.
It’s also National Superhero Day, so for the record, my favorite superhero is Captain Underpants. Unlike Batman or Superman, Captain Underpants doesn’t have a national day all to himself, but at least his fans, casual or devoted, can celebrate him today. Hurrah!
We traditionally celebrate Friday, May 1 as May Day, although President Donald Trump calls it National Loyalty Day. Trump is in good company – every president since Dwight Eisenhower has annually declared May 1 to be Loyalty Day, in accordance with the law.
As to whether Trump celebrated National Honesty Day the day before, I suggest you check FOX News or CNN for an answer that suits you.
Meanwhile, it seems as though there’s a day for just about anything these days, doesn’t it? May Day and Loyalty Day share a crowded May 1 with tributes to Mother Goose, chocolate parfait, law, school principals, space, Silver Star military service, and school lunch heroes.
I first got caught up paying attention to the days of May back in 1988 when May 5 unofficially became “National Welcome My Daughter Kiersten Into the World Day.” Of course, that’s not really a national day, just like the star named after her in the International Star Registry isn’t really named after her at all. Star registries are a topic for another day.
How in the world did we get to the point where just the first week of May has around 60 national days for anything from lumpy rugs to roast leg of lamb?
For once, it seems government isn’t to blame. While Congress is responsible for National Loyalty Day and National Prayer Day, for example, it had nothing to do with National Honesty Day (no surprise there).
Blame free enterprise in no small part for the dizzying chore of keeping up with so many national days that were created specifically for advertising and boosting sales.
Take National Road Trip Day, celebrated the Friday before Memorial Day and promoted for the first time last year. Who benefits from road trips besides the people who take them? Why, Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers, the company that established the day, as those road trippers fuel up and chow down at their plazas across the country.
The website National Day Calendar makes it perfectly clear why they exist on their “Register a National Day” page:
“National Day Calendar is the premier destination for brands, nonprofits, and corporations to register an official National Day that aligns with their product or service. As the #1 trending topic of all time on social media, National Day Calendar offers a powerful media mix of digital, radio, social media and television news platforms that reach a hyper-engaged audience of Celebrators across the United States and around the globe. Over 20,000 media outlets source their stories from National Day Calendar’s website.”
Add one more to the mix, although there are many more sites that list national days.
Nonprofits are included in the marketing mix, and I certainly don’t begrudge them at all for wanting to get more visibility for their causes and a designated time period they can use for targeted giving campaigns.
Nonprofits appear to be more inclined to opt for national weeks or months, which makes sense. May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month, for example. I’ve been aware of cystic fibrosis since the late 1960s, as my cousin Marcia had CF and died from it in 1971 when she was just 17 years old. But it’s not a disease that has much visibility. It’s estimated only 30,000 people in the US have this genetic disorder, and only 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Having an awareness month is of great help in raising funds for care, support, and research.
But let’s get back to the world of capitalism and profits.
The entire month of May is also dedicated to national recognition of three essential food groups: barbecue, hamburgers, and salsa. I seriously doubt those applications were submitted by Michelle Obama.
And if that’s not enough to please your palate, you’ll eat really well in May if you observe the national days for chocolate parfaits, truffles, chocolate custard, raspberry popovers, candied orange peels, hoagies, crepe Suzette, shrimp, buttermilk biscuits, coconut cream pie, nutty fudge, croutons, apple pie, fruit cocktail, chocolate chips, cherry cobbler, walnuts, cheese souffle, devil’s food cake, quiche Lorraine, strawberries and cream, vanilla pudding, taffy, Yucatan shrimp, escargot, and blueberries. On beverage-oriented national days wash those meals down with a good homebrew, lemonade, orange juice, Coke, juice slush, wine, or a product from a craft distillery.
If none of that has any particular appeal, then mark May 11 on your calendar -- it’s National Eat What You Want Day.
All of that in only one month. If you’re on a diet, I’d strongly advise staying far, far away from the National Day Calendar.
A lengthy article on this topic that appeared in The Atlantic last August provides evidence that Marlo Anderson’s brainstorm to turn his national day blog into a true moneymaker was, to put it mildly, brilliant. At that point National Day Calendar was “very busy selling and placing ads on the website, distributing a printed calendar, developing a clothing line, doing appearances at festivals, collecting licensing fees, creating a nationally syndicated radio segment, and developing an app, a TV show, and a potential movie.”
All of that by capitalizing on capitalism and people’s seemingly insatiable desire to celebrate things both profound and trivial.
Meanwhile, some national days really do fit together well. National Lost Sock Memorial Day is May 9, and I have multiple reasons to observe that one. But the very next day is National Clean Up Your Room Day, providing hope that some of those wayward socks will be happily reunited with their mates.
And in a delightful ironic twist this year, National Clean Up Your Room Day shares the spotlight on May 10 with a much more familiar national day – Mother’s Day. How apropos.

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