Get your diary out – there are always reasons to celebrate…
The mere hint of a significant day, week or month has us hanging out the bunting and donning the paper hats faster than you can say ‘easy to erect trestle table’. I’d always been aware somewhere in my subconscious (triggered perhaps by Hypnotherapy Awareness Day, 22 May) that we are a nation of celebrators, but it was Talk Like A Pirate Day on 19 September that finally got me hooked.
So, calendar in one hand and list of ‘Awareness Days’ in the other (yes, there is an official register) I charted my year.
Just this month, for example, I have enjoyed marking World Hello Day (21st), World Kindness Day (13th), National Schools Meals Week (3rd-7th) and, as we go to press, I’m looking forward to the most intriguing of all: Buy Nothing Day (29th). Vegan Day (1 November) passed almost unnoticed: I am already salivating at the prospect of British Bacon Day which is a full nine months away. I missed it last summer due to being in France on 30 August, where locating a single rasher of unsmoked was harder than finding a large white sliced in National Baking Week (13-19 October).
Not surprisingly, when it comes to punctuating our lives with random reasons to celebrate, Britain leads the way. It was on these shores that many of our Worldwide Days, such as World Population Day (interestingly in the same month, July, as International Kissing Day, National Shed Week and National Day of the Cowboy) were first proposed.
To be registered a day must have a dedicated website with contact details, (though quite who mans the National Cucumber Day hotline is an intriguing thought) and about half the hundreds of official Awareness Days have a serious purpose. All the major charities now encourage us to dig deep (rather than tip iced water over our heads) on a specific day or week.
Many of us, therefore, are just coming down from the caffeine-induced high generated by Macmillan's World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (26 September), after struggling out of our old Levis on Jeans for Genes Day (19 September) to raise funds for children with genetic disorders and wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Day on 24 October.
Our children meanwhile are eagerly anticipating the next official Mufti Day (named after General Mufti, who found that sagging morale in the British Army was boosted by the policy of allowing the men to wear civilian clothing instead of uniforms on certain days of the year). These days school children are encouraged to ditch their school uniform and donate a pound to a specific cause (only recently did I discover that it was one pound and not the two pounds that I thought was going to Children In Need but was in fact going to one specific child in need of a large packet of donuts).
Personally, I prefer my ‘National Day Days’ to involve the minimum of effort (think British Sandwich Day, National Tomato Day and National Towel Day – handily all landing in May). Luckily we have failed to adopt the American enthusiasm for a National Dress Up Your Pet Day (14 January).
As a family we all still shudder on World Book Day in March at the memory of the occasion ten years ago when my three primary school children were invited to dress up as their favourite book characters (about as easy as delivering world peace). Seventeen hours later I had duly cobbled together outfits for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe only for my youngest son to refuse point blank to dress in a large cardboard box, resulting in us making the front page of the local paper. ‘School marks World Book Day with The Lion, The Witch and Noddy!’
What I find particularly satisfying is when like-minded organisations clearly share calendars so National Pi Day and British Pie Week both fall in March. This allows us to use the much maligned mathematical symbol to calculate how to divide a large shortcrust Steak and Ale equally between a family of five taking into account their relative weight and hunger levels.
And no matter how cynical you may be about this, February is hard to resist. With British Yorkshire Pudding Day, World Marriage Week, National Chip Week and National Think About Sex Day all within four weeks, there’s surely going to be something for all of us to celebrate. Start planning now…