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A Hallmark Holiday

With Father’s Day just days away, it seems fitting to explore the holidays that exist solely for commercial purposes. Most holidays commemorate a traditionally, or historically, significant event; Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are widespread events, accepted by the public as days of celebration, but they are on the cusp of the Hallmark Holiday phenomenon. This term is often referred to in a reproachful manner, but Hallmark defends its card-sending occasions: “As a business, we wish it were so easy that we could dream up products and people would flock our stores to buy them. But we have to respond to what people want – not the other way around. There first has to be a real consumer need that we meet with our products.” Hallmark recognizes over 20 holidays each year, many of which are included in the Chase’s Calendar of Events.

Although Hallmark has been in business for 104 years, and might be the greeting card experts, the company doesn’t declare holidays. Up until 1995, Congress was responsible for establishing national holidays, but now the effort is primarily led by grassroots campaigns. Some local government offices still proclaim special days for their regions, but most holidays are now either acknowledged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations. In evaluating potential new holidays, Hallmark determines the “sendability” factor and whether or not there is large enough consumer interest.

Some holidays that may feel more commercial are Sweetest Day, Grandparent’s Day, National Boss’s Day, and Tax Day. Yes – Hallmark and other greeting companies have a card for all of these. More cynical shoppers criticize the retail world for capitalizing on traditional days of reverence and homage, as a way to encourage consumer spending. Snail mail is fast becoming a, lost art of communication but is still a meaningful way of bringing people closer together. Take an NHL announcer who declared he is on a personal mission to write one handwritten letter a day to someone who has made an impact on his life. Since many of us won’t have the time or discipline to bring such a ritual to fruition, set days throughout the year (as cheesy as they may sound), might be the perfect way to show someone you care.

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