October 15, 2021
Sweetest Day is October 16th. And 2021 marks the 100th Anniversary of Sweetest Day. It is traditionally the third Saturday in October. Some people know this holiday well and others have never heard of it. Sweetest Day is primarily celebrated in the Midwest, parts of the Northeast, and in Florida. It has jokingly been referred to as a "Hallmark holiday," or the second Valentine’s Day created by candy companies to… sell candy! And once you know the origins, it is hard to argue with that description.
The first Sweetest Day was on October 10, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio. The following year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Sweetest Day was planned by a committee of 12 major candy makers. That first year, The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee distributed over 20,000 boxes of candy to "newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor" in Cleveland.
Over the years, there were several attempts to start a "Sweetest Day" in New York City and across the country. On September 25, 1937, The New York Times reported that The National Confectioners Association had launched a "movement throughout the candy industry" to rank Sweetest Day with the nationally accepted Mother's Day, Father's Day, and St. Valentine's Day.
Sweetest Day is much more important to Candy Makers is some parts of the country. Today, Detroit and Cleveland are the biggest Sweetest Day cities. So by all rights, the day is a fabricated day. But over the years, it has evolved past just the idea of candy.
Sweetest Day falls almost exactly between Father’s Day and Christmas. For some, Sweetest Day has become the twin brother of Valentine’s day. And it has evolved into a day primarily for the guys. The idea is for women to give their boyfriends and husbands small gifts to commemorate their love. Commonly “suggested” gifts for Sweetest Day include, of course, candy!
Or in other words, the day is about being good or recognizing good. Sweetest Day can be observed by sharing a kind thought or a small gift. It’s a day to give a card with a sweet message to someone you appreciate. Little gifts of candy and other sweets are shared, as well.
But for some, the idea of Sweetest Day became a day for Random Acts of Kindness or saying thank you for good deeds. The theme of promoting smiles and thankfulness took root in the mid-west. Areas like Michigan, Indiana and Ohio combined the meaning of the day with good, old-fashioned mid-western values like honesty and caring for your neighbors.
Sweetest day started as a way to say “thank you” to the special people in your life, and as a way to give something nice to people who had little or nothing. It was a day of good deeds.
While Sweetest Day can be lumped in with Valentine’s Day. Romantic gestures of flowers, small gifts, love trinkets and, of course, candy to those they love. Sweetest Day, also has that added emphasis on helping those in need with material gifts as well as giving moral support to those who may not have the easiest lives. Every little bit helps and it’s something to remember on one of our Sweetest Days. Sweetest day started as a way to say “thank you” to the special people in your life, and as a way to give something nice to people who had little or nothing. It was a day of good deeds.
When I perform weddings, I often read a section in the letter to the Romans that Paul writes about Love. Now the most famous love passage is1 Corinthians 13. “Love is Patient, Love is Kind…” While what Paul writes in Romans 12 is not as well known, it is just as compelling. He writes:
“Your love must be real. Hate what is evil and hold on to what is good. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes and pray at all times. Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.”
Real love is hating evil and doing good. It goes well beyond romantic attraction. Pauls’ definition of love that is sweet has a lot of action, a lot of doing. It is a verb of action not an adjective of a feeling or emotion. You are to actively love people like they are your family and honor them the way you want to be honored. And true love is seen in sharing with those who are in need. Be generous and hospitable. Later in the chapter, Paul continues by quoting an old proverb and putting it very bluntly:
“But you should do this: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.”
If we do anything like that on Sweetest Day or any day, it will surely be a sweet day and one we will never forget. Eat something sweet, perhaps honor the men in your life and most of all do something good for those around you.
Happy Sweetest Day.