So this morning, your significant other looked at you coyly over your morning cup of coffee and gently asked you what you were doing for Sweetest Day. If you’re like millions of people outside of the midwest, you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It turns out, however, that Sweetest Day is a very real holiday celebrated throughout 11 states in the United States. Here’s the skinny on what you need to know for this other candy-related holiday in October.
While not a national holiday, Sweetest Day is most popular in the Midwest and Great Lakes region. Eleven states celebrate this annual celebration, including Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. For most, Sweetest Day presents are purchased, with parts of Pennsylvania and New York catching the sweet fever. As the years pass, it has started to fascinate others around the world.
Sweetest Day differs from Valentine’s Day in that it is a day aimed at making friends and acquaintances, not just that special someone. By giving a small gift, you are letting them know just how much you appreciate them in your life.
The traditional gift for Sweetest Day is candy or something else sweet. Cupcakes, cookies, or anything that will bring a smile to a friend’s face is considered appropriate. You can get Sweetest Day cards for your friends as well. Hallmark has been producing cards for this holiday since the 1960s.
Sweetest Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of every October, which is today. That means that the date may shift from year to year, but it always falls on a weekend. This makes it a perfect holiday for a fun get-together with family and friends, for no other reason than just because.
According to legend, Sweetest Day was started by Herbert Birch Kingston in 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio. Kingston worked at a local candy company and gave candy to the homeless and orphans that lived in his city. He did this for no other reason than he wanted to make them smile. Celebrities got into the spirit, hosting give aways of candy of their own, bringing smiles and joy to orphan girls all around Cleveland.
A 2010 story by The Atlantic refutes this tale, however. According to their research, Sweetest Day was started by major candy companies in an effort to boost sales during an otherwise empty fall season. It was originally called Candy Day and was meant to boost sales, celebrate candy, and transition into the Christmas holiday season. The holiday was renamed to Sweetest Day to shift focus from the original intent of selling candy to feelings of generosity and gratitude.
Just because Sweetest Day wasn’t based on a centuries old tradition like Valentine’s Day doesn’t make the sentiment any less valid. After all, Mother’s Day wasn’t officially celebrated until 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in West Virginia. Taking the time to tell your friends and family how much they mean to you is never a bad thing, and when you add in a bit of candy; well, that just makes the entire thing a little better.
Keep in mind that Sweetest Day was started before the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating had come about. Trick-or-treating at Halloween started in the 1930s as a way to stop the pranks that were the usual way of celebrating the holiday. The practice didn’t really take off until the 1950s after the sugar rationing of World War II stopped. So while Halloween is the most commonly known candy-based holiday in October, Sweetest Day was here first. That doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy and celebrate both, however. After all, there’s really no such thing as too much candy.
[Featured Image by Ruth Black/Shutterstock]