March 29, 2018
Working on a Cinco de Mayo campaign for a client got me thinking about holidays.
Everyone knows there’s a made-up holiday with a corresponding hashtag for just about every day now. Need a hug? #NationalHuggingDay is January 21. Fancy a donut? #NationalDonutDay is June 2. Want an excuse to wear denim head to toe? Sorry – you just missed #DenimDay on April 25.
The day-naming trend definitely took off with the meteoric rise of social media over the past 10 years, with these silly labels providing a hook for an endless stream of Instagrammable moments. But it’s hardly a new thing. My husband uses the excuse that Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday every year to dodge gift-giving. Hallmark didn’t actually create St. Valentine’s Day; people have been celebrating love (and some other weird stuff — Google that if you will) for more than 600 years.* Back in 1913, some bright spark at Hallmark was just clever enough to pounce on the growing popularity of exchanging love notes and decided to get in on the trend – now a multi-billion dollar industry. Boom. A brilliant marketing move.
Which brings me back to Cinco de Mayo. It’s not Mexican Independence Day, as most Americans think. South of the border, Cinco is a minor holiday to Mexicans, to celebrate a victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. So why is it such a big deal the U.S.? Marketing!
In the early 1980s, Anheuser-Busch and Miller Company began advertising directly to Hispanic markets and sponsoring Cinco de Mayo celebrations to create another reason to drink beer. Today, Cinco de Mayo is a boozier holiday than St. Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl, with Americans spending more than $800 million last year on beer and “related malt beverages.” Cheers, nice work.
Just for the record, I love Cinco. I don’t love drunken sombrero-wearing, maraca-waving bar fools, but anything that gives us an excuse to celebrate our Mexican neighbors, drink more beer and eat more avocados is fine by me.
Which gets me to my point — I do think there are way too many ridiculous holidays, but if you zero in on a few, there’s a lot to like. With all the terrible things going on in the world, it’s kind of nice to have random things to celebrate and a date on the calendar to give you the nudge to do it. It’s great to have a reason to recognize someone else or to take a pretty picture of your donut. Does that sound dirty to anyone else?
So, with that… Happy Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day! (Disclaimer…my kids are at school).
*This isn’t a veiled attempt to shade my husband — though I hope he does get the hint for next year.