I’m not sure if you noticed that on 19 November we celebrated International Men’s Day. I was surprised: what with being paid more to do the same job, possession of the TV remote and no requirement to wear high heels, every day is essentially Men’s Day. Except for 8 March, of course, which is International Women’s Day – which, despite being a holiday on half the planet, British men ignore every year. Maybe we’re just doing the pretend-to-forget thing, like with anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine’s Day.
Unaware of the correct way to celebrate International Men’s Day, I checked on every ignorant journalist’s go-to resource: Wikipedia. The entry from 2008 tells us only that “University of Kent students celebrated International Men’s Day at Mungo’s Bistro on the university campus”. I can’t imagine how I missed that item on the news.
Thanks to the vacant minds of some people in marketing departments globally, every day is basically International Something Day (ISD). Competition for ISDs is so intense that some are Trade Marked. Imagine if a rival band of angels decided to steal International Angel Day (TM) for example. On the other hand, you’d have thought that the angels among us would have been able to sort this out amicably.
The food business is a great creator of ISDs, because it encourages us to buy things to eat when we’re fat and not hungry. If you like bacon, chefs, sushi, beer, pickles, waffles, picnics, cachaca, fruit or goats, there’s an ISD for you. I’m not sure if you are meant to eat the goats or save them on International Goat Day, but take it from me: they’re really tasty in a curry.
Causes love an ISD, and have grabbed special days for ozone, the Poles (just one for both North and South), democracy, mountains, nurses, blondes, lighthouses, bogs, the dawn chorus and ponchos. Even jugglers have an ISD, which makes me want to slap them even more.
Like the nude charity calendar ISDs have also become a joyless way to commercialise sex, so there are ISDs for whores, fetishes, kissing, orgasms… and firefighters.
And of course there’s the niceness industry, equally divided between making us better people and the need to sell us things that exploit our self-loathing and consequent desperate desire to improve. For this try International Hug Day, or the ISDs for understanding and jokes or, for those who like to celebrate the truly meaningless, International Awareness Day.
Then if you are one of the few people on the world for whom a PR company has not created an ISD, why not simply piggy-back on someone else’s: "In celebration of International Waffle Day, Radical Breeze is offering discounted packs of their software for MacOS X… “Every year on March 25th, people around the world eat waffles. Lots and lots of waffles. Stacks of waffles,” stated Bryan Lund, president of Radical Breeze. “This beautiful day must be commemorated. And what better way to do so than to offer stacks of great MacOS X software for a low price?”
Then there’s the merely baffling. I’m hoping that the first International Accreditation Day (9 June 2009) will not be the last. Who could possibly miss the opportunity to take part in "a global initiative jointly established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation-related activities."
Instead of this piecemeal approach, let’s get organised and sell off the calendar properly, day by day. It would give the people who organised International Organizations Day something useful to do, and it might show us how important accreditation really is. We’d have to ring-fence important stuff like Christmas and International Weblogger Day (oh yes, we have one too), but the others should just go to the highest bidder, no more than one day per group. Then we could stop messing around with greetings cards and parades and make some serious money out of celebrating the anniversary of nothing in particular by marketing 365 separate franchises and suing the hell out of each other. In this case every day would be International Lawyer’s Day (currently limited to 5 April), but that’s a small price to pay.
If you work in some brass instrument public relations capacity and you were the person who scheduled International Tuba Day for the first Friday in May because you were flat out of ideas and nobody cares about tubas, this might seem like bad news. In PR, one of the few reasons to create an ISD is that nobody owns the days of the year: your ISD may be pointless but it is very cheap, so clients like it.
Global capitalism solves this problem. A clever entrepreneur could pick up one of the cheaper days and resell it at an affordable price moment by tedious moment, so 3am to 4am on May 18 can be international Kilt hour, rather than the entire day it is given currently. Nobody want to celebrate the kilt for an entire day, not even kilt manufacturers. And for pointless imagination-free PR-driven celebrations of nothing (whoever came up with International Crochet Day, I’m talking to you), two minutes a year ought to be more than enough.