National Pistachio Day – Where did all of these National Days come from?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

There is a National or World Day for almost everything. Pistachios are no different. World/National Pistachio Day is February 26.

You’ve heard of these special days, either via your Facebook feed or on the radio or during that hour of the Today show when they feature videos of water-skiing squirrels.

Where did all of the “National Days” come from?

The answer starts with online calendars that list the supposed “holidays.” There are dozens of varying popularity, but highly Googleable sites like National Day Calendar (nationaldaycalendar.com) and Days of the Year (daysoftheyear.com), which display about 1,200 and 1,500 days respectively, are at the top. For food holidays in particular, it’s Foodimentary (foodimentary.com), which regularly broadcasts 450 food holidays to its more than 850,000 Twitter followers.

From there, marketers, journalists and local businesses latch on, promoting different days for various reasons: to sell products, to bring people into their restaurant on a slow Tuesday. Hashtags are created, and a phenomenon begins.

But back to the origin. The United States recognizes only 10 days as national holidays, and they’re the big ones like Christmas and Independence Day. Go down a level and you’ve got government-sanctioned national observances, like Mother’s Day and Flag Day. But there are only 44 of those.

How did they end up on calendars?

Sometimes, “national days” are created via presidential proclamation or a resolution in the House or Senate. On July 9, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5119 declaring National Ice Cream Day, praising it as a “nutritious and wholesome food.” Other Reagan proclamations included National Frozen Food Day, also in 1984, and Catfish Day on June 25, 1987.

The catch is that such proclamations are meant to be a one-time deal, so there technically hasn’t been an official National Ice Cream Day since the ’80s. But that didn’t stop shops across the United States from giving out free scoops on July 17.

Marlo Anderson, founder of National Day Calendar based in Mandan, N.D., says only a small fraction of celebrated days have any whiff of government officialness. Others may have been proclaimed at one time on a state, city or county level, and spread outward. Some are rooted in local traditions or history, such as the massively popular National Doughnut Day. While that day now centers around freebies, it sprang from the Salvation Army’s practice of serving doughnuts to soldiers on the front lines of World War I, where resourceful “doughnut lassies” fried the dough in soldiers’ helmets.

A fair amount of national days have been invented by organizations or companies looking to drum up interest. That's where you get National Drive-Thru Day, created by the fast-food chain Jack in the Box, or National Underwear Day, from the online underwear retailer Freshpair.

And yet others are simply made up by random people. John-Bryan Hopkins created Foodimentary, which he started by compiling about 200 food holidays that already existed in some form. He readily admits to then making up Tater Tot Day, National Whiskey Day and others as a way to fill up the rest of the calendar.

How to get a holiday…

This didn’t begin with the Internet. The viral nature of our modern times has just allowed for more hype, more frenzy, more public participation.

Some of these days have been around for decades, perpetuated by their inclusion in various print calendars, though many of their origin stories have been lost to time.

Marlo Anderson launched National Day Calendar in 2013 after he found it difficult to find information on National Popcorn Day. He cataloged about 1,100 days in the first year, cobbling them together from various websites, Facebook pages and other sources.

Since then the site has added about 90 more days, which came from outside submissions. Anderson said the site receives about 18,000 a year.

Before becoming a “holiday,” each submission goes through a committee: A four-person team in a room in North Dakota reviews them and debates their inclusion based on national relevance and their chance of being widely celebrated. Decisions must be unanimous.

If you are ready to register a day, you can go to their website and fill out all of the information requested. At this time, they are only taking applications from businesses and organizations.

Where did National Pistachio Day come from?

We don’t know?! National Calendars couldn’t trace it back to anything and the American Pistachio Growers didn’t have any history on it either.

How should you celebrate National Pistachio Day this year?

Add pistachios to every meal of the day. Start with adding it to your breakfast oatmeal, substitute peanut butter with pistachio butter for your lunch sandwich, have a pistachio crusted pork chop or salmon for dinner and finish the day off with a scoop or two of pistachio ice cream or pistachio cake. Post a photo of yourself eating pistachios or visiting Heart of the Desert, tag us and use #NationalPistachioDay.

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.