If only every day were a holiday.
Presto — you have your wish. And then some. In fact, every day is four or five holidays.
National Ice Cream Day, on Sunday, is a delicious pretext to celebrate sundaes, chocolate cones and every blend-in item, from coconut to Kit Kats, that crunches, munches, and tickles the taste buds. Many ice cream shops have discounts and deals: Ask yours about any special offers.
But National Ice Cream Day also happens to fall on the same day as National Give Something Away Day, National I Love Horses Day, National Tapioca Pudding Day and National Pet Fire Safety Day.
That's nothing. Christmas also shares a date — Dec. 25 — with National Pumpkin Pie Day, and A'Phabet Day (also known as "No L Day").
There are 1,500 of these national holidays, according to Marlo Anderson, founder of the National Day Calendar. Given that there are 365 days in a year, that means that holidays — those special days that are supposed to be a break from routine — actually outnumber ordinary days by a 4-to-1 margin.
"On our website, there's a form you fill out," says Anderson, who founded National Day Calendar in 2013 and has seen it blossom into an institution equally valuable to journalists, who are looking for an excuse to write about things, and lobbyists, who are looking for an excuse to have things written about.
"I think the relationship is symbiotic," says Anderson, whose North Dakota-based organization became an online presence 5½ years ago, and now does a print version of its calendar as well.
In fairness, Anderson points out, the majority of the holidays on his site are long-established, either by cultural tradition — Easter — or by congressional or presidential proclamation.
That was the case with National Ice Cream Day. It was actually President Ronald Reagan who, in 1984, proclaimed that everyone should celebrate ice cream in July, which he declared National Ice Cream Month, and on the third Sunday — National Ice Cream Day — in particular.
But there are also lots of holidays on the calendar that exist because special interests — commercial or otherwise — were willing to pay a few dollars (for, say, a small non-profit) or a substantially larger sum (for a big multi-national industry) to get their gala day on the radar.
It's a high bar, Anderson says: National Day Calendar gets 20,000 petitions a year, of which only a handful are selected annually by the group's four-member board.
For example: National Calzone Day (Nov. 1) National Missing Persons Day (Feb. 3), Jeep 4 X 4 Day (April 4), National Ampersand Day (Sept. 8), National Hangover Day (Jan. 1), and National Nail Polish Day (June 1).
It's no surprise that lobbyists, for the past five years, have been beating a path to Anderson's door. A spot on the National Day Calendar is all but a guarantee of coverage by TV, newspapers and social media.
Reporters — to use journalism-speak — are always looking for a "news-peg." That's the hook from which the story dangles — the excuse to write an article in the first place. It's National Calzone Day? It goes without saying that half the newspaper and TV feature departments in the country are going to do a calzone story. After all, it's news — right?
Anderson got a vivid demonstration of how this works when his calendar, last year, proclaimed National App Day to be Dec. 11.
"The post went out at 4 in the afternoon on Sunday that tomorrow is National App Day," he recalls. "When I woke up in the morning and turned on the news, it was like, 'Hey, today is National App Day.' It was on 'Good Morning America,' and then I turned over to 'Fox & Friends,' and it was there, too. And it was on our local station as well. Twelve hours ago, it wasn't a thing. And today it's all over the country."
So yes, there's a sense in which these "holidays" are self-serving, from the point of view of the industries that push for them, and the media that covers them. But they're also fun: who doesn't like to growl and roll his rrrrrrrrr's on Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19)? Bottom line, Anderson says: everyone loves a holiday.
"It's a great reason to gather some friends and go out and enjoy the day a little bit," Anderson says. "It's just a feel-good thing. I call you up and say 'Let's have a pizza today, it's National Pizza Day.' It's a reason to go out and celebrate."