My calendar, I am saying, contains multitudes. Yours does, too.
And so does Jono Alderson's. Days of the Year currently has around 1,200 holidays published on its calendar, Alderson told me. This averages to roughly 3.3 micro-holidays for every day of the year; several days, given your Christmases and your Thanksgivings and your other attention-hoggers, host many more than that. "There isn't really any official guideline or legal infrastructure, I don't think," Alderson, who runs the site from the U.K. but has a largely American audience, told me. "There's no legal definition of what constitutes a 'Day.'"
While federal holidays are approved by Congress and, ultimately, by the president (who is also empowered to bypass Congress by proclaiming holidays), there's a free-market element to the micro-holiday. Chase's Calendar of Events, a printed compendium of "special events, holidays, federal and state observances, historic anniversaries, and more," explains that it "includes a special day, week or month in the annual reference based on the authority of the organization observing it, how many years it has been observed, the amount of promotion and activities that are a part of it, its uniqueness and a variety of other factors." Alderson, for his part, fact-checks the days that are up for being Day-ified on Google and Facebook, looking for evidence that some critical mass of people does indeed celebrate the holiday in question.
This evidence can sometimes be hard to find, in part because the sources of the holidays themselves can be hard to track down. (An entry on nationalday calendar.com, which does similar work to that of Days of the Year, summed this up nicely: "Our research," the site lamented, "was unable to find the creator of National Bubble Bath Day, an 'unofficial' national holiday.")
While official holidays often celebrate their own origin stories—while for many of them, the whole point is their own origin stories—micro-holidays are partly defined by the fact that you're never entirely sure where they come from. Who, exactly, made the executive decision that today, of all days, should exist to celebrate social security? And also chocolate chips? And also assistance animals? And also the Coast Guard? (And also—but maybe you already knew about this—psychics?) Who decided that tomorrow should exist to celebrate underwear? And, while we're at it, what set of circumstances decided that January is National Meat Month, and also National Egg Month, and also National Soup Month, and also National Candy Month, and also National Wheat Bread Month, and also Bread Machine Baking Month, and also National Hot Tea Month, and also National Oatmeal Month, and also Prune Breakfast Month?
Those are rhetorical wonderings, for the most part (though I really would like to know about the prune breakfast thing). We already know, for the most part, who is making these decisions about the timing and targeting of our amoebic attention: marketers. For every Nancy Hoffman—for every one-person interest group—there is also a traditional interest group, one that has commercial reasons for colonizing the calendar. As Chases's explains of its own catalog of micro-holidays: "The majority come from national organizations that use their observances for public outreach and to plan specific events."