When is Sweetest Day? The third Saturday in October. That's the easy question to answer. "What" is Sweetest Day takes a little longer. In essence Sweetest Day, October as its month of celebration, and the giving of Sweetest Day gifts, all originated in the mind of one man who just wanted to make some people feel a little better.
In 1922 a philanthropist who was also an employee of a candy company, Herbert Birch Kingston, came up with an idea to distribute candy and small gifts to orphans, shut-ins, and the underprivileged on a specially designated day. He called his day of distributing happiness Sweetest Day. October was the month he selected for his project.
Although Kingston's original inspiration pre-dated the advent of the Great Depression, an economic disaster of unprecedented magnitude that struck in 1929, more people began to observe his holiday during those dark times. Sweetest Day became, in some regions of the country, another way to lift, if only for a day, some of the desperation and despair felt by so many Americans with a modest gift and an act of remembrance.
In 1922, on the first Sweetest Day, gifts were given out by movie actresses Ann Pennington and Theda Bara, whose combined efforts led to the distribution of more than twelve thousand Sweetest Day gifts. Over the years the holiday caught on in the area of the Great Lakes and as people have moved from that area into other parts of the United States, Sweetest Day gifts and observances have become popular in other parts of the country as well.
In 2005 Sweetest Day fell on October 15 and the Hallmark Corporation, renowned in the greeting card industry, offered an expanded line of Sweetest Day cards, 142 up from only 48 in the year 2000. These cards come in a range of sentiments suitable for acquaintances, friends, family, and even those more dear to the heart reflecting a subtle shift in the point of Sweetest Day over the last few years.
In addition to the original plan to do things for those who had been forgotten and to brighten their lives with Sweetest Day gifts, the holiday has also taken on a romantic connotation and remembrances also extend to family and friends. For instance, the cover of one of the Sweetest Day cards offered in the Hallmark line reads, "Happy Sweetest Day to the One I Love," with the lengthy interior sentiment ending with the phrase, "I'm head over heels over you."
Although not celebrated widely across the United States the question "when is Sweetest Day" is now often supplanted by "who are you giving Sweetest day gifts to?" No doubt fueled by the movement of peoples from the original areas in which Sweetest Day was celebrated, and driven in part by the greeting card industry itself, Sweetest Day observances are becoming more prevalent.
An observance like Sweetest Day gives people an opportunity to reach out to those for whom cards on the more traditional holidays might not be appropriate. It is possible you would give a Sweetest Day card to someone to whom you would not give a Valentine, for instance. Sweetest Day is, in short, another opportunity for people to acknowledge the presence of someone special in their lives or to reach out to someone who feels forgotten.