Behind National “Awareness” Days…including National Pig Day
What’s so special about today? We hear announcements and see posters declaring “National This or That Day”, but are they real? How did they get started and who started them? Can I declare a special day?
The truth may surprise you. In fact, you may find that certain days you thought were official awareness days, are not. .
So, first let's start with some truths about National Awareness Days...and then, lets take a look at how you can create one too.
By the way..., Mother's Day may not happen next year!
Truth One: How Many National Awareness Days Are There?
Answering the question of “how many National Awareness Days are there?”, is like trying to pin down the number of how many websites there are. The truth is, as of this writing, there are literally thousands that I have identified so far, and the number is growing daily. To test it for yourself, go to your favorite search engine and simply type in three keywords: “national, (fill in the blank), and day”. Its kind of a fun exercise and actually enlightening if you dig deeper into the origins of each day. I've searched out a lot and found that some of the days I thought were just jokes, turned out to be widely celebrated. Did you know there is a National Pig Day, a National Toilet Day, National “talk like a pirate” Day, and my personal favorite, National Joe Day (March 27th)?
Truth Two: How Many “Legal” National Awareness Days are there?
There are “0” legal holidays and “0” legal National Awareness Days. The term "legal" is often confused with the term Federal. There are currently eleven federal holidays that occur each year even though certain states do not recognize them. Texas for example, chooses not to recognize Columbus Day.
List of (11) current federal awareness days:
- New Years Day: January 1st
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Third Monday of January
- Inauguration Day: January 20th (every 4th year) (or the 21st if the 20th is a Sunday)
- Washington's Birthday: Third Monday of February
- Memorial Day: Last Monday of May
- Independence Day: July 4th
- Labor Day: First Monday of September
- Columbus Day: Second Monday of October
- Veterans Day: November 11th
- Thanksgiving Day: Fourth Thursday of November
- Christmas Day: December 25th
Truth Three: Only Congress Can Propose an Official Federal National Awareness Day
It literally takes an "Act of Congress" to propose a new "official" National Awareness Day and can only be authorized with the Presidents signature. There is a long and tedious processes required that requires that involves a lot political maneuvering, formatting proposals, seeking local representation, and effectively connecting with a congress person to present the 'special day'. If it survives all of that, (this can take years), the current president must approve it to make it "official". It is a difficult process, but over the decades, many grass root driven awareness days have been enacted. Even then, these special days must be reviewed and proclaimed by the president each year.
47 days the President reviews every year:
Besides the eleven "official" federal awareness days, there are also also forty seven days currently that are presented to president by Congress. Of course, he can be proactive and do this without Congress poking him and he can also create new ones by Executive Order. Many times the President will, for example, proclaim a day to "mourn or pray for" the death of important people like U.S. Presidents, Chief Justices of the United States, or after tragic events or disasters like "911".
What is surprising to me, is that days like Mother's Day, and Father' Day are not "automatic..."
The "forty-seven" list:
- Religious Freedom Day: January 16
- National Sanctity of Human Life Day: 3rd Sunday in January
- Education and Sharing Day: March/April
- Susan B. Anthony Day: February 15
- Greek Independence Day: March 25
- Cesar Chavez Day: March 31
- National D.A.R.E. Day: 2nd Thursday in April
- National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day: April 9
- Pan American Day: April 14
- Loyalty Day: May 1
- Law Day: May 1:
- National Day of Prayer: 1st Thursday in May
- Military Spouses Day: 2nd Friday in May
- Mother's Day: 2nd Sunday in May
- National Defense Transportation Day: 3rd Friday in May
- National Maritime Day: May 22
- National Missing Children's Day: May 25
- National Child's Day: 1st Monday in June
- Flag Day: June 14
- Father's Day: 3rd Sunday in June
- National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day: July 27
- Parent's Day: last Sunday in July
- National Airborne Day: August 16
- Women's Equality Day: August 26
- National Day of Prayer and Remembrance: weekend before September 11
- Patriot Day: September 11
- National POW/MIA Recognition Day: 3rd Friday in September
- Citizenship Day: September 17
- American Business Women's Day: September 22
- Family Day: 4th Monday in September
- Gold Star Mother's Day: Last Sunday in September
- Child Health Day: 1st Monday in October
- German-American Day: October 6
- Columbus Day: 2nd Monday in October
- Leif Erikson Day: October 9
- General Pulaski Memorial Day: October 11
- White Cane Safety Day: October 15
- United Nations Day: October 24
- World Freedom Day: November 9
- America Recycles Day: November 15
- Native American Heritage Day: Friday after Thanksgiving
- World AIDS Day: December 1
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities: December 3
- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day: December 7
- Human Rights Day: December 10
- Bill of Rights Day: December 15
- Wright Brothers Day: December 17
Days that were not proclaimed:
The President may also elect not to proclaim a day. For example, If the president decided not to proclaim the national day of prayer, it would not be considered an endorsed day.
The most recent awareness days not proclaimed were: Afghannistan Day, Baltic Freedom Day, National Catfish Day, and National Coaches Day.
No Mother's Day This Year?
What's surprising to me is that Mother's Day and Father's Day are not "automatic" Days each year...these have to be approved by the president...
Days that didn't "make the cut" ...yet...
Currently, there are some proposed days to become either automatic or "yearly upon approval" days, but still have not made the "cut". Some are presently being re-introduced through the political process; most will simply fade away and others will continue to be talking points for years to come. Many times, politicians will capitalize on these "days" to bring a "sense" of patriotism to their campaigns and use them for political marketing purposes--especially in election years. There are many on the "books"...here is a sampling:
Susan B. Anthony Day : Third Monday of February
Cesar Chavez Day: Last Monday of March
Malcolm X Day: Third Monday of May
Flag Day: June 14
Native Americans' Day: Third Monday of September
Election Day: First Tuesday of November
Great Definition of Memorial Day Awareness
Truth Four: Anybody can create a national awareness day
Now here's the fun part...Anybody can create a national awareness day!
Some days that are created or started have very serious long term intentions and actually get supported to the point of making it to the President's desk. Others are created to educate the masses to very serious illnesses, moral dilemmas, or life challenges. The most common are created by businesses to promote products like greeting cards. Some people refer these as "Hallmark" days. And then there are, of course, days that are created just for fun!
An example of an awareness day for educating the masses of illnesses would be National Breast Cancer Awareness Day(month).
An example of a "Hallmark" day would be "National Hot Dog Day", July 23rd
An example of a National Just For Fun Day would be "National Talk Like a Pirate Day", September 19th
How To Get Your "Day" Started
Minimally, it takes two...One to come up with the concept or idea...another to agree. Many times organizations will establish certain days based on historic events or causes that need solutions and base the specific date very meaningfully.
Marketing plays a huge part regardless of the motivation. Nowadays, one of the easiest ways to begin is by using social media. Businesses will develop whole marketing approaches to promote their agenda which may include social media, print advertisements, radio, and even television campaigns.
Kids are especially crafty when it comes to starting their own awareness days and its funny how quickly it spreads.
The next time you shop for new calendars, take a look at how they use awareness days to bring significance to their content or support their theme.
I Officially Declare...
I officially declare that today, November 25th, is "National Kiss a Writer Day". Can I get a "second" on that?