You mean you didn't know it's national beanpole week?

Union leaders have attacked the tide of 'special' days marking less than special causes. Tom Peck asks if it's time to make other plans
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There are still several days to go, but in towns and cities across the world excitement is building. As if you did not know already, this Friday is International Dance Day.

The timing is not ideal. Already we are in the middle of National Bread Week, and it is just a few days after National High Five Day and National Beanpole Week. And all of these clash horribly with National Car Care and National Pet Month. (April? Cruel? What on earth was TS Eliot on about?)

Union leaders have criticised the growing number of dubious, and often public relations-inspired, special days, weeks and months that fill the calendar, claiming they take the focus away from more serious events.

But this, too, appears to be a public-relations tactic of its own. Thursday is International Workers' Memorial Day, yet the international media seems not to have taken too much notice.

"The hijacking of the idea of special days to mark significant events and occasions by an army of spin doctors to simply plug their clients' products is a sick joke," Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, said.

"Maybe we should have a special Ignore PR Puff Day to remind journalists to swerve the kind of garbage that the PR and ad agencies make a fortune out of inflicting on the rest of us."

Workers' Memorial Day, set up to remember those who have been killed, disabled, injured or made unwell at work, has a far more illustrious history, with roots stretching back to 1984, when it was started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

It was taken up in the US five years later and has since spread to much of the rest of the world.

Now it vies for attention, in the UK at least, with such events of global significance as Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (31 January), National Pie Week (7 to 13 March), National Cleavage Day (31 March), National Balloon Week (22 to 29 May) and International Talk Like a Pirate Day (19 September). The idea for designating special days took hold in America during the 1950s. An obvious tactic it may be, but it's here to stay, because, well, it works. "I'm a great believer in them, because they're successful," said PR Consultant Max Clifford, who has been involved in setting up promotional days or weeks for prostate and cervical cancers, among other charitable causes. "The media will focus on a day or a week, yes, but also if you want to get stars and big names involved they will be happy to concentrate their involvement over a day or a week. They wouldn't be able to do it for a year. Simon Cowell gave lots of interviews for Children's Hospice Week, which helped immensely. He might not have been able to over a longer period.

"If people want to try to compete with these things with their own, more commercial, national days, then good luck to them. The Unions are upset their day isn't getting the attention they want it to, well, they've got to be more creative haven't they? It's a democracy. Don't blame the competition."

PR Agent Mark Borkowski, who admits to a hand in establishing National Lemon Day in 2008, thinks that the Union bosses may have a point this time.

"The PR industry does have a lot to answer for. Some of the stuff that's been done is pretty facile," he said.

"But their main problem is they're trying to generate traction for their day when it's royal wedding week, so they've tried this stunt. They've got no chance."

The national days of 2011


18 Winnie the Pooh Day
23 to 29 Farmhouse breakfast week
24 Global belly-laugh day
24 to 28 Food allergy and intolerance week
31 Bubble-wrap appreciation day


National ironing month
6 Yorkshire pudding day
6 to 13 National bramley apple week
7 to 11 International networking week
7 to 14 Marriage week UK
14 Think about sex day
21 to 25 National chip week
21 to 27 National dairy week


National bed month
7 to 13 National pie week
20 to 26 Happiness week
21 to 27 Salt awareness week
21 to 27 Bacon connoisseurs week
31 National cleavage day


National car care month
2 April to 2 May National pet month
10 to 17 Tick-bite prevention week
21 National high-five day
23 April to 1 May National beanpole week
26 April to 2 May National bread week


National share-a-story month
National vaccination month
National wine month
Craft and design month
1 International dawn chorus day
1 to 7 Compost awareness week
1 to 8 National windsurfing week
3 to 10 International donkey week
9 to 13 National stop-snoring week
9 to 15 National real bread-maker week
14 to 28 National ferry fortnight
15 The start of National smile month
16 to 20 Walk to school week
16 to 21 British sandwich week
18 to 29 Be nice to nettles week
22 to 29 National balloon week
23 to 29 National vegetarian week
28 to 5 June National shooting week
30 May to 5 June National camping and caravanning week


National microchipping month
6 to 12 National tampon alert week
18 to 26 June Herbal medicine week
20 to 24 Falls awareness week
20 to 26 Jam week
25 June to 1 July National insect week


4 The start of National shed week
10 Don’t-step-on-a bee day
16 The start of National fishing month


13 International left-handers day


National dog-adoption month
3 International vulture awareness day
12 to 18 National cupcake week
16 Wear your wellies day
19 International talk-like-a-pirate day


National seafood month
1 to 9 National conifer week
9 to 15 National curry week
15 Global handwashing day
16 to 22 National ethical investment week


Make-a-will month
2 National stress-awareness day
8 to 12 National school meals week
8 to 14 World kindness week
14 to 20 Global entrepreneurship week
21 World hello day
26 Buy nothing day
18 to 25 National maintenance week
25 National gutters day
26 to 4 December national tree week


1 to 7 Anger-awareness week
6 to 11 National dads matter week