October 15, 2021
Sweetest Day is October 16th. And 2021 marks the 100th Anniversary of Sweetest Day. Traditionally, it is the third Saturday in October, but some people 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 as a second Valentine’s Day with the emphasis being a special day to honor the men in your life. The first Sweetest Day was on October 10, 1921, in Cleveland, when a committee of twelve major candy makers 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 popularize "Sweetest Day" in New York City as well as across the country, but it was only marginally successful. On September 25, 1937, The New York Times reported that The National Confectioners Association was pushing for Sweetest Day to be nationally accepted Mother's Day, Father's Day, and St. Valentine's Day. Today, however, Detroit and Cleveland are the largest Sweetest Day cities.
Sweetest Day falls almost exactly between Father’s Day and Christmas. For some, Sweetest Day has become the twin brother of Valentine’s Day since the idea originally was for women to give their boyfriends or husbands small gifts to commemorate their love. Of course the most suggested gift for Sweetest Day was candy!
Is the day about being good or recognizing good? Sweetest Day can be observed by sharing a kind either with a card or small gift to someone you appreciate. For some, especially in the Midwest, this day has evolved into a Random Acts of Kindness day. 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.
When I perform weddings, I often read a section in the letter to the Romans where Paul speaks about Love. The most famous love passage is 1 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.”
Doing anything like that on Sweetest Day-- or any day-- is something we will never regret or 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.