A gimmick too far? Why every day is a national something day
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant
ANDREW PAPWORTH asks: does every day really need to have a special status attached to it?
Today is International Top Spinning Day. Tomorrow is Global Handwashing Day, while later in the week it is World Statistics Day.
Whatever day of the week it is, whatever time of year, everything seems to be a world something day. And it stresses me out a little (and not just on National Stress Awareness Day, which is November 6).
Of course, I don't mean to make light of any clearly important subjects here. Stress is absolutely a critical issue which deserves to be taken a lot more seriously than it current is. Washing your hands is also clearly very important and even more so internationally, where a lack of hand-washing facilities in some countries really does cost lives.
Top spinning? Erm, well I guess that's necessary too...
My question is, do we really need a day to celebrate a lot of the things that seem to have this special status granted to them?
I first started this phenomenon when I became a journalist in 2004. Suddenly I started getting repeated calls from eager press officers telling me how we must write a story to coincide with World Theatre Day (March 27, if you're interested) or could we possibly hold off on that story about high levels of smoking because May 28 is World No Tobacco Day (nice try, but no cigar was my response).
- 1 Smoke billows over Norwich as fire breaks out at Mousehold Heath
- 2 Demolition of former Tesco begins as historic business returns to city
- 3 Mysterious 'large black animal' spotted roaming in fields near city
- 4 Nine fire crews battling large field blaze near Norwich
- 5 'It was inevitable': Neighbours' horror as crews tackle heath blaze
- 6 Call for tougher action on 'inconsiderate' pavement parkers
- 7 Drought declared in Norfolk
- 8 WATCH: Nudist camp saved from field fire by farmers
- 9 Police hunt wanted man in Norwich
- 10 Missing 73-year-old from Norwich found safe and well
I'm sure someone, if interested enough, could probably dig out an example of me selling my soul somewhere and writing about International Cat Day or something - in which case, I'd have to hold my hands up to being utterly hypercritical.
My usual answer to these PR calls though is indifference. If we only wrote about certain topics and issues when they supposedly have a day allotted to them in the calendar, it'd somewhat curtail our news agenda.
About 18 months ago I wrote about the need (or lack of it, as I saw) for Valentine's Day, one of the bigger events of the year.
My argument there was that while celebrating love for a special someone in your life is indeed a wonderful thing to do, why should it only be on February 14? Shouldn't couples also mark their affection for one another on November 3, April 23, August 17 and indeed any other day of the year?
It's an argument I would repeat here. While no-one disagrees with raising awareness about lung cancer or the need to look after your eyesight, aren't these things we should care about all year round and not just on specific days?
As with Valentine's Day, I suspect the reason some such days are so heavily promoted is because of the commercial value.
Valentine's Day is a huge economic driver which shops and businesses up and down the country - Norfolk and Suffolk included - understandably exploit for everything its worth.
My answer to that is the holiday packages and special gifts hand-made in our county should also be enjoyed all-year round, not just once a year and then forgotten about.
Of course many days are just simply about raising awareness and are nothing to do with money-making whatsoever. And in fairness, I admittedly don't disagree with every special day that is on the calendar.
Last week was World Mental Health Day, which workplaces, schools and wider communities across Norfolk and Suffolk did a superb job of promoting.
Here again you could make the argument that we should be talking about mental health 365 days a year, not just on October 10. However I do actually think there are some issues that are so important that as well as discussing them all year round, we need a day to focus people's attention on it in even great detail.
World Mental Health Day definitely falls into that category, as does International Women's Day - and many others I'm sure. Come to think of it, having read its website I do actually think Global Handwashing Day is needed - so perhaps the publicity does work on me after all.
I do, however, believe we need fewer of them - otherwise it just diminishes and degrades the issues and debates which are truly important and that we need to focus on.
Perhaps the best day though is this Friday, October 18. That's because, surprisingly, it is a day that doesn't appear to have any special status or cause attached to it. At last, a day we can all rejoice in...