Let’s Help The Economy and Make More Fake Holidays

Here we are right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday name was originally created by the Philadelphia Police as a code name for huge traffic jams on the day after Thanksgiving.  Retailers translated it into the day when our books go from red to black. Cyber Monday appeared later  and represented  customers who could not find what they wanted in the “brick & mortars” so they went online.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas  can often be hugely challenging for small businesses. Not only can  more-moneyed competitors afford the door-buster sales that attract shoppers, but they’ve got much bigger marketing budgets too. Therein lies the beauty of made-up holidays: There’s no competition.

There is certainly precedence. The International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP, typically celebrates National Pancake Day on Shrove Tuesday, which this year took place on March 4–even though the breakfast staple has long been celebrated on Sept. 26. Next year, Shrove Tuesday is on Feb. 17–that is the day after Presidents Day and three days after Valentine’s Day. The company plans to celebrate the hotcake on March 3 instead.

It hardly stops with pancakes. Besides the 11 federal holidays, Americans observe a long list of religious holidays, feasts, and anniversaries–from Ramadan to Purim. Additionally, each state may have its own variety of local holidays, from Pascua Florida Day, which refers to spring and the Easter Season, to Statehood Day in Hawaii.

And you can’t possibly forget the “Hallmark Holidays”–so named for the greeting-card company that popularized the practice of sending cards to loved ones on certain days of the year, like Mother’s Day. There are approximately 23 of those.

All told, Nationaldaycalendar.com recognizes 1,100 annual holidays, says Marlo Anderson, the founder of the Mandan, North Dakota-based national holiday tracker. He adds that his site doesn’t even cover all of the holidays in existence. “We research [each holiday] and if just six people post [about it] on Twitter, we’ll pass,” he says. “We don’t want to dilute the days we have on there with days that aren’t so recognizable.”

Still, there is room for more. If you can make a case for why your day ought to be in existence and you can fork over $1,500 to $3,500–the fee National Day Calendar charges for issuing a press release and a 13-by-19-inch framed proclamation–Anderson is all ears. Just ask talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who recently snagged her own national day, which also happens to be her birthday, January 26.

The question is, how do you turn your holiday into a payday? For starters, consider teaming up, suggests Hopkins. “If I were a little corner shop, I would probably work with other people and get everyone to agree to promote it,” he says. “It would be such a shame if you go through the trouble of creating a day that was only for your square block. I would rather the mom-and-pop shops get together.”

To further confirm the power of fictional holidays, consider the success of Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving) and Small Business Saturday (the Saturday following Thanksgiving). The latter was created by American Express in 2010 to gin up sales at the nation’s small businesses, and last year it attracted $5.7 billion worth of purchases at independent merchants, according to the financial services giant.

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