National "Holidates"

by Andrea Vega

Graphics by Gabby Dipietro

Scrolling through social media last week, I found myself once again rolling my eyes at the cheesy captions underneath “National Best Friend Day” pictures, thinking that there’s no way it has already been a year since the last time I saw a #nationalbffday hashtag.

It turns out both June 8 and August 15 are “best friend appreciation days.” There seems to be a slight miscommunication in the “national holiday” world.

But with the hundreds of national days to keep track of, the lack of unison is understandable.

Some of these holidays are hard to miss, like the around-the-corner lines that form outside of Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme on National Donut Day (June 2) or the prolific dog and cat Instagram photos on National Pet Day (April 11).

You could go your whole life without knowing about other national days unless you check the “official” National Day Calendar. The calendar’s creator has spent years accumulating all of the strange “holidates,” which include National Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4) and National Fettuccine Alfredo Day (February 7).

Most of these so-called “national” days, especially those pertaining to food or consumer products, were created as public relations and marketing campaigns by large companies as a way to set themselves apart from their competitors and gain social media buzz. Others, however, have far more interesting origins.

National Donut Day was started by the Salvation Army as a way to raise funds and awareness for their social service programs during the Great Depression. “Donut Lassies” were Salvation Army volunteers who provided writing supplies, stamps and—of course—donuts, to men on the front line in WWI-era France.

“It’s unfortunate that some of these days had such deep and meaningful origins that were forgotten over time, but from a public relations perspective, it’s absolutely genius,” said Shalini Ramaswamy (COM ’19), who studies Public Relations. “I can’t think of anything that people respond to better than free food.”

IHOP has started one of the most widely celebrated holidates: National Pancake Day. Started in 2006, the day consists of free pancakes at over 1,500 IHOP locations around the U.S. While enjoying their complimentary short stack, customers are asked to donate to IHOP’s partner charity, Children’s Miracle Network, or other local organizations.

Since 2006, IHOP has raised over 20 million dollars for their partner charities, while gaining some quality publicity along the way.

All is fair in the publicity world and national holidates are no exception. John-Bryan Hopkins, creator of the popular food website Foodimentary, would agree. Hopkins started his website in 2006, listing plenty of national food days that had already been established during World War I.

“I filled in the rest,” Hopkins told TIME; he admitted to making up days like National Onion Ring Day out of the blue or even getting rid of days when they become underwhelming.

“I might wake up a little groggy one morning and decide that I don’t like what’s being celebrated that day. So I make it a new one,” he said.

Hopkin’s Twitter now has over 860 thousand followers who tune in every day for food related quotes, pictures and national days.

Just in case you were wondering, here are some exciting days (and possible social media posts) to look forward to in the month of October.

October 4: National Taco Day

October 6: No Makeup Day

October 11: National Coming Out Day

October 13: National No Bra Day

October 15: National Cake Decorating Day

October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day

October 23: National Boston Cream Pie Day

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

October 29: National Cat Day