Holiday intended to bring cheer to needy

Erin Hopkins

Sweetest Day’s meaning has changed over the years

Margaret Skeya, junior exercise major, and boyfriend Brian Reid, junior education major, hold hands outside of Bowman Hall on Wednesday. Skeya and Reid have secret surprises for one another on Sweetest Day. The couple was introduced through a mutual frie

Credit: Jason Hall

The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping and a number of holidays are just around the corner. Forget the food on Thanksgiving and the presents on Christmas, it’s time to celebrate Sweetest Day. 

While those without sweethearts may groan at the thought of another lovey-dovey holiday like Valentine’s Day, take note that Sweetest Day was not created for lovers.

According to the Web site, the holiday started in Cleveland in 1922. Herbert Birch Kingston, an employee at a Cleveland candy company, decided to acknowledge underprivileged people in the city by doing something kind for them. He got together with friends on a Saturday in October to pass out gifts and candy to orphans, the sick and the poor. This act of giving was his way of letting people know that someone cared about them.

Each year, more people became involved in gift-giving, including athletes and movie stars. About 10 years later, the city of Cleveland designated the third Saturday in October as “Sweetest Day”.

According to the Hallmark Web site, the company created the first card in the mid-60s. Rachel Bolton, spokesperson for Hallmark Cards at the U.S. Headquarters in Kansas City, Miss, said since the 1960s, demand for cards about love has increased about 800%.

“I think people welcome something on their calendar that says to slow down, let someone know you care,” Bolton said. “A holiday like Sweetest Day forces you to pause for a moment in your busy life.”

Bolton said people commonly refer to Sweetest Day as a “Hallmark holiday.” The term implies that card manufacturers create cards for previously unknown days to make them into holidays.

“We’ve never started a holiday,” Bolton said. “We stay close to our consumers and are constantly voting on new cards. Consumers direct the way things go. If the demand is high enough for a card, we create one.”

Bolton said Sweetest Day cards are offered at stores nationwide, even though the holiday is more heavily celebrated in the Great Lakes region.

“As people moved from Michigan and Ohio, they took the tradition with them, which created demand for cards to be sold in those new areas,” Bolton said. “In certain communities, Sweetest Day cards do as well as Valentine’s Day cards.”

However, not everyone in love will celebrate Sweetest Day.

Dusty Kellar, senior nursing major, said she and her boyfriend only celebrate the holiday if they know when it is. 

“Last year, my boyfriend figured out when it was and got me a present,” Kellar said. “This year, I asked him about it and he said, ‘I think that day already passed, didn’t it?'”

Jacob Brown, junior international relations major, said he wanted to celebrate Sweetest Day, but his plans have changed.

“My boyfriend and I just broke up,” Brown said. “So I guess I’m not doing anything for Sweetest Day now.”

Brown said he feels a much better knowing that the holiday does not have to be celebrated with a significant other.

“I just might go out and give gifts to other people instead,” Brown said. 

So, put on a warm jacket, grab a friend and spread some cheer to people in your community. Significant other not required.                  

Contact features reporter Erin Hopkins at [email protected].