I know, I know. We’re a bit early. But make sure you keep 4 August free.

What are we celebrating? What do you mean?! Since 1988, 4 August has been Mustard Day, a day of celebration dedicated to that classic condiment.

No, this isn’t a joke.

In the world of marketing, every day is the day! 🎠 🎉

In addition to US National Mustard Day on 4 August, there is also Sweetest Day on 20 October, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (yes, really) on 3 February and World Sleep Day on 16 March. And so on.
The celebrations have been dreamt up and the dates chosen: because every day is a good day to spend our hard-earned cash.
These special days haven’t happened by chance. They are often invented to tempt us to open our wallets and make us feel the need to mark the occasion with a special gesture, bunch of flowers or dinner out – regardless of how frivolous or unauthentic it might be.
And so, the world is split into two camps: those who think these holidays are wonderful ways of celebrating the beauty of day-to-day life, and those who turn their noses up, picturing marketing gurus rubbing their hands as their sales spike.

So who are these brands filling our calendars with commercial holidays?


💡 Many of these fabricated holidays are related to the world of food. Here are some of the most popular around the world: 16 January is International Hot and Spicy Food Day 🌶, 6 April is Carbonara Day , 3 August is International Beer Day 🍺 and 18 June is International Picnic Day. Wondering how you’re going to digest all that? You’ll just have to wait until 30 December: US National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! 


Holidays dreamt up in meeting rooms 📈📊

Ever heard of Small Business Saturday?

It’s an event devised by American Express – and backed by advertising colossus Crispin Porter + Bogusky – who in 2010 launched a marketing campaign to support small businesses suffering from the growth of big chains – or so they said.

And while Amex urge you to “shop small”, there is nothing small about the level of popularity enjoyed by the initiative, which has over three million likes on Facebook and even prompted former US president Barack Obama to tweet about it. The economic results have been impressive too, reaching massive highs in double-quick time.

💡 $12.9 billion spent during Small Business Saturday 2017 in the USA and £748 billion spent in the UK in 2017, with over 115,000 tweets posted about the event.

International Coffee Day ☕ was another holiday invented in a meeting room. It’s all down to the International Coffee Organisation, who declared 1 October a day dedicated to the best-loved drink in the world back in 2015.

It is a now a global celebration featuring events, discounts, promotions and awareness activities taking place throughout the supply chain. Take the global “Thanks for the coffee” – #THANKS4THECOFFEE campaign launched by the Italian brand Illy to mark the 2016 edition of International Coffee Day. The marketing initiative focused the attention of consumers used to simply drinking their espresso, on the work of coffee growers.


So, how do you create a holiday?💡 

According to well-known US food blogger John-Bryan Hopkins, the creator of a number of fabricated holidays including National Onion Ring Day (22 June), it’s easy. All you need to do is choose a date and promote your holiday through social media in the hope that it goes viral or captures the attention of brands with similar interests.

It’s difficult to argue with him. Just think of World Nutella Day on 5 February, a delicious celebration devised by popular American blogger Sara Rosso in 2007 and now overseen by Ferrero, the Italian company that produces the product.



World Nutella Day

World Nutella Day is a global holiday celebrating one of the best-loved foodstuffs in the world. The popular hazelnut spread – synonymous with Italy – is more than deserving of a holiday all of its own, in the eye of its many fans around the world.

Lo and behold, every 5 February people from all over the world share photos, images and stories of their day on social media – all in homage to the legendary spread.

Happy Completely Fabricated Holiday Day FATHER CHRISTMAS

💡 “Speaking of ‘Brand Holidays’, did you know that Father Christmas 🎅 was invented by Coca Cola? That’s right! The idea of a portly man with a beard and a bright red coat – see where this is going – was created by designer Haddon Sundblom, from Michigan, in 1931 after he was commissioned by Coca Cola. Before then, Father Christmas resembled an elf: he was short, skinny and dressed in green. But the new Father Christmas was perfectly in sync with the soft drinks manufacturer’s brand identity, making his marketing campaign debut in the Saturday Evening Post and the New Yorker before going on to become a universally recognised icon.”



It’s a lucrative business!

One holiday entirely deserving of its reputation as artificial and capitalist is Black Friday. It is the holiday of all holidays, one that generates as much revenue as Christmas itself.

Created in Philadelphia, in the USA, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and – for Americans – the first day of the Christmas shopping season.

Around the world, however, Black Friday is simply synonymous with huge discounts and unmissable offers: it’s a real celebration of spending oriented largely at Millennials and the male market, who are more likely to wait for big discounts before making a purchase, particularly when it comes to technology.

And it’s a growing phenomenon. In the space of the past year, the number of people that celebrate Black Friday around the world has increased from 25% to 33%. That 8% increase has given a massive boost to all stores that take part in the celebration, fuelling the phenomenon in the process. And it will come as no surprise that Amazon lead the way.

Then, of course, there’s Cyber Monday.

Know where this one comes from? The event coincides with the Monday after Thanksgiving Day. It’s the day when Americans return to work and – still inebriated with the festive spirit – console themselves by making online purchases, often while at work.

It might seem like a joke holiday, but it is anything but.



Do you know just how big an effect these fabricated holidays have on the economy?

  • During Cyber Monday 2017, the USA registered sales of over $6 billion.
  • 400 million spectators watched the opening ceremony of Singles’ Day 2016 (which we’ll look at in more detail later on), promoted by Alibaba. That works out as 300% more spectators than watched the Super Bowl. Guest stars at the Chinese-backed event included Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and his wife Victoria.
  • Amazon sold 12 products per second during Black Friday 2016.
  • One in every two people start thinking about Christmas shopping at the end of October – two months early!


So, even if they are fabricated, these holidays really do help to drive sales.
But how many sales?

💡 “30% of all sales made in the USA come during Black Friday and Christmas.”

A lot.

💡 “Echo Dot was Amazon’s best-selling product on Cyber Monday 2017.”

Alibaba singles day


From west to east, everyone is crazy for Fake Holidays! 

The popularity of fabricated holidays is growing all over the world, from west to east.

💡 It may only be a made-up holiday, but that doesn’t stop Sweden and the USA squabbling over Waffle Day. Why? Become while the Swedes believe the holiday should fall on 25 March, the Americans celebrate it on 24 August – the day the waffle iron was invented..

While the Americans believe they are the specialists when it comes to creating commercial holidays and events, they face stiff competition from the other side of the world.

In China, 11 November is Singles’ Day – a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day – which pays tribute to the fact that the Chinese population is made up of nearly 200 million singletons. The date of the event speaks for itself: 11/11. With all those ones, it’s little wonder that the day is used to celebrated being single!
It’s such a big event that Alibaba, the leading e-commerce company, has registered the event as a trademark, ringfencing the image rights and adding their brand to the holiday.

It’s a bit like eBay obtaining exclusive use of the world “Christmas” to offer crazy discounts on 25 December.

And while, in principle, 11/11 was all about giving singletons the chance to treat themselves, it now looks like the situation has got out of hand. On 11 November 2017, Alibaba recorded revenue of over $25 billion.
The year before that, in November 2016, purchases to the tune of $1 billion were made during the first five minutes of the official opening of Singles’ Day.

China’s Singles’ Day is now the biggest retail event in the world, bringing in more revenue than both Cyber Monday and Black Friday put together.


Don’t worry, 9 June is World Gin Day – that’ll take the edge off.