“buy serif;”>did you know that Halloween was not the only holiday we should have been celebrating in the month of October?”
“buy serif;”>Legend has it that Sweetest Day was established around 1922, so it has actually been around for eighty nine years, believe it or not.”
“Arthur’s Day began in 2009 as a 250th-anniversary commemoration of the signing of the lease for the St James’s Gate brewery in 1759.”
Hayley Maher looks at invented holidays and examines which deserve our support and which don’t.
With Halloween over for another year, everyone has put away their nurses’ costumes and turned their attention to the next holiday, which if you’re American is Thanksgiving, but for the rest of us is Christmas. But did you know that Halloween was not the only holiday we should have been celebrating in the month of October? There was also Clergy Appreciation Day which is the 9th of October, Sweetest Day on the 15th of October and for those of you looking for that elusive promotion at work, National Boss Day every 16th of October.
Now you might well ask what Sweetest Day is. According to Hallmark, it is “an original American holiday not based on any group’s religious tradition. It’s simply a reminder that a thoughtful word, deed or small gift enriches the life of the recipient as well as the person giving it.” Legend has it that Sweetest Day was established around 1922, so it has actually been around for eighty nine years, believe it or not. Herbert Birch Kingston, a candy company employee, wanted to bring happiness to those often forgotten by society, so he and others distributed candy and small gifts to orphans, shut-ins and others to show them that someone cared. Hollywood stars even got involved in the day in the 1930s, with movie stars giving out sweets to paper boys and hospital patients.
Not to be cynical, but it seems that parallels could be drawn between Sweetest Day and a holiday recently created in Ireland, which has spread around the world: Arthur’s Day. Arthur’s Day began in 2009 as a 250th-anniversary commemoration of the signing of the lease for the St James’s Gate brewery in 1759. This year, however, we celebrated the third Arthur’s Day, which seems to signify that it is here to stay.
Both Arthur’s and Sweetest Day were thought up by employees of companies that wanted to create a reason for people to consume more of their products and both wanted people to associate their products with good deeds. In the case of Arthur’s Day, Diageo set up the Arthur Guinness Fund designed to provide support for social entrepreneurs. Diageo themselves even contributed an initial €2.5 million. Herbert and his colleagues may not have millions to spend, but these candy company employees gave to the outcasts of society to show a little bit of candy really shows you care. Diageo has big acts to promote Arthur’s Day while, Sweetest Day was promoted by Hollywood actors when it was first on the scene.
However, while it is easy to be cynical of holidays that are clearly just marketing ploys for large corporations, there are some holidays whose origins are far from organic that may in fact be good for society. There is for example Grandparents’ Day, which this year was celebrated in Ireland on the 25th of September and is widely celebrated in the USA. As long as we don’t turn this holiday into another commercial event and allow it to become a ‘Hallmark holiday’, a day that celebrates elderly people and gets us to show our grandparents our appreciation can hardly be a bad thing. Loneliness and isolation among elderly people in Ireland is a huge problem and if this day can be used to raise awareness then it deserves our full support.