Today is International Coffee Day. Not sure that an international day to celebrate coffee is required, given that 85% of the global population is already consuming at least one cup a day*. Today is also World Vegetarian Day, World Smile Day and the International Day of Older Persons. It’s pretty hard to keep up.
Just in October there are more ‘days’ than there are real days – thirty-five days marking an event or a cause in a month of only thirty-one.
What is also interesting is how many of these days relate in some way to food. Back in August, for example, there was also an opportunity to celebrate World Knife Day, which is on 24th August every year (and we dutifully drew your attention to it back then). In this month alone, in addition to World Vegetarian Day, we have World Day for Farmed Animals (2nd October), World Food Day (16th October) and Nude Food Day, as well as Fair Food Week (9th-17th October) and National Nutrition Week (11th-17th October). And this is just October! (or should we say Ocsober?)
Back in the day (pardon the pun), there were only a few days of note, namely all the main religious days, plus a smattering of independence days, commemorations of wars (or more precisely the endings of wars) and – in the UK – so-called ‘bank holidays’.
The origin and definition of a ‘bank holiday’ in the UK is interesting. Apparently, until 1834 there were no less than thirty-three holidays, mainly saints’ days and religious days, but these were substantially reduced in 1834 to just four – Christmas Day, Good Friday, 1st May and 1st November. Not a popular move.
In 1871 this was changed again when the Bank Holidays Act was passed allowing some additional days off – Easter Monday, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day were added, along with the first Monday in August (the ‘August Bank Holiday’) and ‘Whit Monday’ in June. There was quite some celebration about these new holidays at the time and the person responsible, Sir John Lubbock, was suddenly very popular indeed.
These days the UK has 8-10 public holidays every year (depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) and Australia comes in with 11-14, again depending on where you live. Globally both the UK and Australia are at the bottom of the list in terms of ‘holiday generosity’, with Cambodia being the country you should move to if you want plenty of days off – they have twenty-eight.
Unfortunately none of the new special days that have cropped up in the past fifty years or so allow you to take a day off work, they are really generally just to draw people’s attention to a particular issue – often a social issue or a medical or health issue. What is interesting is how many of these involve food and the food chain in one way shape or form. Here’s a closer look at some of these food-related days…
World Vegetarian Day (1st October)
As with many of these ‘days’ this one kicked off in the US in 1977, organised by the North American Vegetarian Society. The whole idea is – of course – to encourage people to consider not eating meat and to follow a more ‘plant-based’ diet. More info here – https://worldvegetarianday.navs-online.org/
World Day for Farmed Animals (2nd October)
This day has been running since 1983 and is timed to coincide with Gandhi’s birthday. It draws attention to instances of cruel treatment of farm animals. More info here – https://dayforanimals.com/
World Food Day (16th October)
This day is organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 150 countries to bring the world’s attention to the importance of a healthy diet for everyone in the world. According to this body, around 40% of the global population (3 billion people) cannot afford a healthy diet. More info here –
Nude food Day (no specific day, instead a day chosen by each participating school in October)
This day, run by Nutrition Australia, is all about encouraging schools and schoolkids in Australia to eat more fruit and veg and minimise the amount of packaging waste – the chip packets and chocolate bar wrappers – in lunchboxes. It’s been going for ten years, but it looks like it might have taken a break since COVID came along. Hopefully it’s back soon. More info here – https://www.nudefoodday.com.au/
Fair Food Week Australia (9th-17th October)
This week is dedicated to ensuring the food system in Australia is fair – fair to Australian farmers and fair to factory workers in the food industry. More info here – https://www.fairfoodweek.org/
National Nutrition Week (11th-17th October)
Like Nude Food Day, this week is also an initiative of Nutrition Australia, and is all about encouraging everyone (not just schoolkids) to ‘try for 5’, that is to eat more vegetables and specifically to get five different vegetables on your plate. More info here – https://www.tryfor5.org.au/
Pick a day!
*completely made up but we reckon a quick fact check would find it’s pretty accurate (or maybe just in Australia)