Unless you grew up in the Midwest, Sweetest Day is not a day you have ever heard of. Even if you did, it may not have been one you celebrated. But, it continues to be celebrated by its devoted following on the third Saturday in October each year.
Truthfully I had never heard of it until my cousin's wedding when their party favors were honey sticks in celebration of Sweetest Day. Maybe it was the novelty, maybe it was the honey, but it struck me as being a neat celebration of those we care about.
Sweetest Day's history is worth mentioning. It originated in Cleveland in the early 1920's both in an effort to bolster candy business, celebrate loved ones and provide a sweet surprise for some folks who had less. Combining love, sugar and charity: Overall, a thoughtful idea.
Even at its inception, it was not widely embraced but rather dubbed another "hallmark holiday." It seemed not to compete well with more established holidays like mother's day or valentines day. Or maybe it just simply didn't compel. Which says something about what we celebrate and why.
I have a friend who grew up with a 'You are special' plate in her family's kitchen. Probably lots of people do, though I love to hear her talk about it. Essentially it was the mark of a good day for a person and their place setting was the formal acknowledgement that there was a general sense of celebration over that individuals' birthday/great spelling test/lost tooth/college admission/boy scout merit badge/etc. Family tradition at its finest.
It also seems to speak to the heart of celebration--off the cuff, unscripted, as needed and sincere.
Maybe what the "Hallmark Holidays" threaten to remove is our own creativity with which we might choose to celebrate those in our lives without being told how to do it. Maybe not. The point seems to be merely to celebrate-- whether by city-wide candy distribution or the faded, worn out red plate that affirms each step of the journey as noted and embraced. They each matter.
“To reveal someone’s beauty is to reveal their value by giving them time, attention, and tenderness. To love is not just to do something for them but to reveal to them their own uniqueness, to tell them that they are special and worthy of attention.” ― Jean Vanier, Becoming Human