It was a brisk October in 1921. World War I was over. Warren G. Harding was President. Hopes were rising after the long conflict. But, many had fallen on hard times. In Cleveland, Ohio, local businessmen joined together to boost morale by giving out sweets and other small gifts to thousands of the city’s working children, homeless, and shut-ins on the third Saturday of the month. Sweetest Day was born.
Some critics argue it was largely a local publicity stunt designed to spur sales by candy companies, but the idea of spreading kindness caught on. Over time the occasion broadened to include friends and loved ones, growing in popularity throughout the Great Lakes and Northeast regions. Other states joined through the years, as Midwesterners relocated to other parts of the country, and the occasion grew to embrace a weeklong period of giving. Today, this still largely regional, grass roots holiday has evolved into a miniature “Autumn Valentine’s,” with flowers, candies, and cards exchanged between millions of spouses, sweethearts, and friends. Why has it stood the test of time?
Sweetest Day appeals to the thoughtfulness and romance in all of us. It crosses the boundaries of race, religion, politics, and age. It offers a heartwarming break in the otherwise dreary month of October. And, it’s managed to avoid being over commercialized. After all, a bouquet of roses or special dinner out is almost a requirement at Valentine’s, but it’s a sweet, unexpected surprise during Sweetest Week. So, there’s less pressure but just as much appreciation. And, it’s appropriate for every stage in a relationship — from newfound friendship to budding romance to lifelong commitment.
It doesn’t take a lot to make Sweetest Week special — a thoughtful card, box of candy, bouquet of flowers, or cozy dinner for two. All it takes is a little planning, a sincere expression, and a kind word. We’ll probably never see Sweetest Day rise to the level of national prominence and media hype that plagues other holidays — and that’s good. Being a little under the radar is what makes Sweetest Week spontaneous and fun.
So, remember Sweetest Day — the third Saturday in October. Then, call your florist, drop by your local gift shop, or order a little something online, and show someone special just how sweet you can be.