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It's National Garlic Day. Who Is Making Up These Weird Holidays?

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Not sure if you knew this but today is National Garlic Day. Tomorrow is National High Five Day. Saturday is National Jelly Bean Day. The list goes on. Kenny Malone from our Planet Money podcast wanted to find out who is behind these weird holidays.

KENNY MALONE, BYLINE: There's an article from over a hundred years ago complaining about National Raisin Day, about how it is just a shameless promotion by the raisin growers. And so yeah, some of these holidays are created for exactly the reason you think - shameless promotion. And sometimes...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED POLITICIAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MALONE: ...Even lawmakers get involved.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED POLITICIAN: I rise today to talk about National Golf Day.

MALONE: For years, the U.S. Congress was a holiday factory. They call them commemorative periods. And legislators went a little crazy with them in the 1980s. The peak of this was during the 1985-86 congressional session.

During that time, 1 in every 3 laws established something like National Air Traffic Control Day or National Bowling Week. It got so bad that the House of Representatives eventually said enough, we're not doing this anymore.

HOLLY MCGUIRE: Right. And people started submitting to us to kind of fill that void.

MALONE: This is Holly McGuire If you want to make up a holiday, you want her blessing. McGuire is the editor-in-chief of a big book called "Chase's Calendar Of Events."

MCGUIRE: It's very heavy. I haven't weighed it. It's 752 pages.

MALONE: The book started as a way for news organizations to keep track of actual holidays. But then at some point, "Chase's" began accepting submissions for what McGuire calls special days.

MCGUIRE: You know, one we had fairly recently - or in the last few years is National Argyle Day, a day in - (laughter) why are you laughing?

MALONE: It's fine. It's fine. I love argyle but I just didn't think it needed a day. But fair enough.

MCGUIRE: Well, OK. It's in January, when you might need some bright argyle to liven your day.

MALONE: She says most special days in the book come from two places - advocacy groups looking to raise awareness about an issue, so National Stop Bullying Day, for example. And then there are a lot of holidays that just come from regular people who make them up for fun.

Adrienne, how many holidays have you created?

ADRIENNE SIOUX KOOPERSMITH: Nineteen-hundred but there's more.

(LAUGHTER)

MALONE: Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith is one of the most prolific holiday creators. She's in her 60s, lives in Chicago. She started submitting holiday ideas to "Chase's" in the 1990s. She thinks it's important to celebrate ordinary things and so she's come up with what she calls holidates (ph) that celebrate everything from the penny to the last name Smith.

KOOPERSMITH: The ordinary things in life I have found are just as important as winning the lottery because these are the little things in life that get you through to the next moments.

MALONE: So where do holidays come from? Companies, sure, congress sometimes but the real holiday factory is a lady in Chicago with a list of almost 2,000 of her beloved holidates.

Ready? July 2, Take A Starving Artist Out To Lunch Day. July 9, International Teen Idol Day. July 16, Sports Club Day. July 23, Belle Of The Ball Day. July 30, King Biscuit Day.

Kenny Malone, NPR News.

February 6, PAC - Pay A Compliment Day.

KOOPERSMITH: Oh, yeah, that one was picked up by "Chase's Calendar Of Events."

MALONE: Really?

KOOPERSMITH: Pay A Compliment Day. Oh, yeah. That's a big day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLIDAY")

MADONNA: (Singing) Holiday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenny Malone
Kenny Malone is a correspondent for NPR's Planet Money podcast. Before that, he was a reporter for WNYC's Only Human podcast. Before that, he was a reporter for Miami's WLRN. And before that, he was a reporter for his friend T.C.'s homemade newspaper, Neighborhood News.

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