Are we awash in awareness?

Why national awareness days do little to raise awareness

With so many groups claiming calendar dates and lobbying for their causes, the significance of the day loses all meaning.
With so many groups claiming calendar dates and lobbying for their causes, the significance of the day loses all meaning.

Happy Brandied Fruit Day! Oh, and happy National Microfinance Day, too. I guess if you only have small amounts of brandied fruit, you can save it with low interest. Wednesday was World Menopause Day and Thursday was Evaluate Your Life Day. It’s also National Dental Hygiene Week, National School Safety Week and National Co-operative Week. October is known for being Car Safety Month, Innovation in Eye Care Month and National Occupational Therapy Month. Throw in a few more universally recognized holidays such as Thanksgiving and Halloween, and it’s a pretty busy month.

The list of national and international awareness days doesn’t stop there and it continues all year round. Nearly every day, week and month, has been dedicated to some cause or purpose. In 1957, Chase’s Calendar of Events was first published as the ultimate reference for specific awareness days. This year’s edition has more than 12,000 entries. That’s more than 32 different issues and events per calendar day.

Some of these pseudo-holidays have been created, and in some cases even copyrighted, by individuals or websites., a website that sells herbal remedies and “magickal elements,” has created and copyrighted 80 of these days. According to the website, this is an effort to encourage people to “celebrate life and its many quirky moments.”

Some days are recognized by charity organizations, farm marketing boards or other industries in favour of their particular cause or product.

Other days are created and recognized by governments and international bodies like the UN, in order to spotlight specific issues. I’m not sure what the criteria is for a national day to be declared, but it seems to be fairly easy to get. And maybe that’s just the problem; there doesn’t need to be a strict process for rating potential awareness days because there is no real power in having an awareness day anyway.

With so many groups claiming calendar dates and lobbying for their causes, the significance of the day loses all meaning. It becomes another National Fill-in-the-Blank Day that no one knows or thinks about, and ultimately does little to support the cause for which the day is dedicated.

We’re awash in awareness, but how aware are we really?

Important days like this week’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty become lost in the shuffle with all of the rest of the issues assigned to calendar days. Maybe that’s why Queen’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services dropped the ball on Mental Health Awareness Week –we’re so inundated with awareness days, weeks and months that the most important ones go unrecognized.

Having a specific day dedicated to an issue also raises the old cliche: “Shouldn’t every day be Fill-In-the-Blank Day?”

While it’s pretty unlikely that the only time you’ll worry about buckling up is during Car Safety Month, there is the risk of donating some money or attending an event to celebrate World Eradication of Poverty Day and feeling like you’ve done your part until next Oct. 17 rolls around. Many of these issues should be recognized as top priorities at all times.

Of course it’s important to be aware of important issues, and even to have fun and be silly sometimes. But do we really need a calendar day to remind us of this? Do we really need a What if Cats & Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day—yes, this is a real day—on March 3?

Instead of national awareness days, we need to take some personal initiative. Think about what issues are important to you and what interests you and get involved in solving those problems. If you feel like wondering what it would be like if cats and dogs had opposable thumbs, go ahead. Just don’t wait until the calendar tells you to.

Twelve Ridiculous Awareness Days

National Hugging Day
January 21
The one day a year for everybody to
get creepy on a nation-wide scale. I’m
pretty sure that unwanted hugging is
considered sexual assault. Be safe out
there on Jan. 21.

Northern Hemisphere
Hoodie-Hoo Day

February 20
A copyrighted holiday invented by, Hoodie-Hoo is a
day when dwellers of the northern
hemisphere go outside and wave
their hands and yell “Hoodie-Hoo!”
The idea is that the weird behaviour
will scare away Old Man Winter
and welcome back Little Miss Spring.
Apparently one man’s celebration of
changing seasons is another man’s
symptom of cabin fever.

Lips Appreciation Day
March 16
Go ahead, use a little extra lip balm.
Make out with someone. It’s an
appreciation day after all.

International Bird Day
April 8
Relish the pigeons cooing outside of
your window this morning. And do
your best to get crapped on—if it’s a
year-round sign of luck, imagine your
good fortune today.

Lumpy Rug Day
May 3
This is a day meant to encourage
an uprising against the lumpy rugs
of the world and to celebrate flat,
non-lumpy rugs. I guess this is
important, I mean, sometimes you
can trip over a lump in the rug.

National Bubba Day
June 2
A celebration of everyone named
Bubba, National Bubba Day is most
often recognized in the southern
United States.

Ugly Truck Day
July 20
Every other day recognizes nice
trucks, so it was important that a
special day be designated to honour
and celebrate the ugliness of ugly
trucks. Ugly trucks are good for
lots of things: running through mud,
transporting lumber, and letting your
friends puke in after they’ve had a
few too many. Don’t forget to get
your truck a nice card.

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your
Neighbour’s Porch Day

August 8
For when the abundance of food
in your North American lifestyle
becomes too much, and the summer
squash plant in the backyard is
starting to block out light to the
house. Maybe this could be like a
play on the old game “Nicky-nickynine-
doors.” Ring your neighbour’s
doorbell and run—
when they get to
the door, they’ll find zucchini on their
doorstep. It’ll be hilarious.

National Cheeseburger Day
September 18
The cheeseburger is becoming an
endangered species, which must be
protected. National Cheeseburger
Day works to raise awareness of this
important issue, passing along the
message that no burger should ever
go without cheese.

Bathtub Day
October 7
Polish that beauty up today and do
your best to stay put all day long.
It’s been long enough since the
summer that your skin is due for a
good wrinkle.

Cliché Day
November 3
The best thing since sliced bread,
Cliché Day goes against the grain,
encouraging everyone to use as many
clichés as they can.

Eat a Red Apple Day
December 2
You heard me. Don’t even think
about eating a green apple on Dec.
2. If you do, Cider Man is going to
come down your chimney and leave
bruised apples in your fruit bowl.

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