As we launch into a new year, some clarification might be in order: National Lima Bean Respect Day (April 20) is not actually a national holiday. Neither is National Talk In An Elevator Day (July 28), or even the much-beloved National Taco Day (Oct. 4). What these so-called "National Days" are, really, are largely the invention of Marlo Anderson, of Mandan, North Dakota. "I've always had a love of celebration," he explained. "And I was digging around about where National Popcorn Day (Jan. 19) came from, and couldn't find any real information."
So, he started keeping a blog called the National Day Calendar which has since grown into the sort-of-official decider of those often weird days you see people celebrating on Facebook, or hear them talking about on morning TV.
"The first month there was, like, 1,000 people that came to the website," Anderson said. And after six months, "We had 1 million people in the month come to the website. And I'm like, 'This is really interesting.'"
Anderson had been running a video conversion and computer repair business out of a small building in Mandan, but then the calendar took off. "We actually had a meeting about two years after starting this, about whether it should go away or continue on, because it was stressing the company," he said. "We were really starting to get stressed here because of the hundreds of phone calls, thousands of emails for something we're not getting paid for."
Anderson decided to go "all in" on the calendar, creating a system whereby people can suggest new National Days online, which is where Amy Monette and Doug Philip come in. They are part of the team at National Day who vote on what does (and doesn't) get a spot on the calendar.
They told Burbank that really big days include National Pizza Day (Feb. 9), National Hot Dog Day (July 19), National Beer Day (April 7), and National Donut Day (Nov. 5). "We've got a lotta food days!" Monette said.
Burbank asked, "Are people just looking for an excuse to eat a donut?"
"I think people are looking for an excuse just to have some fun," Monette said.
Monette and Philip assured Burbank that they have no governmental authority to do this. "Absolutely not!"
The government, of course, has the 11 actual national holidays we are all familiar with.
On the National Day Calendar, there are also "sponsored" days, in which a company pays money to have a national day "declared" for its product, which makes business sense to someone like Kim Francis, spokesperson for the Checkers and Rally's chain of restaurants.
And they take National Days into account. "In an average year we can sell up to 135,000 pounds of French fries per restaurant," she said. "But National French Fry Day (July 14), we absolutely plan weeks in advance to make sure we have plenty of fries to satisfy the demand … that's how impactful it is."
Checkers and Rally's had actually driven their "Fry Love Express" to Mandan, N.D., to celebrate the amazing news: National French Fry Day was being moved from a Wednesday to a (naturally) Friday! Locals lined up for the free food, but seemed largely unaware these National Days were getting decided just down the block.
Burbank asked one woman, "Are you ever in a conversation with someone, or your friend or whatever, and they're like, 'Hey, guess what, it's National Wine Day (May 25), let's, like, have some wine'?"
"Yeah," she replied, also noting the celebration of National Grandparents Day (September 10). "I was for sure going to post 'Happy Grandparents Day' to my mom."
Which seems to be why this National Day Calendar thing has taken off, because we can all use a reason to reach out to a sibling (National Siblings Day, April 10), or eat a blueberry popsicle (National Blueberry Popsicle Day, Sept. 2), or even National Step in A Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day, which is just around the corner on January 11.
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Story produced by Julie Kracov. Editor: Carol Ross.
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