My daily social media ritual includes searching Twitter for trending topics. I usually do this two or three times a day, as trends change depending on breaking news (e.g., election), sports (e.g., NCAA Final Four), and entertainment (e.g., The Walking Dead, or #TWD).
Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have made it incredibly easy to stay in tune with what’s relevant. In fact, according to a July 2015 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, many of us turn to social media first when looking for news.
Twitter and Facebook have also provided relevance for seemingly irrelevant topics, including holidays that only exist because of social media.
We refer to these as hashtag holidays.
Hashtag holidays are a favorite for social media users because, for the most part, everyone can participate.
For example, Wednesday was #NationalPuppyDay. This generated millions of posts with images and videos of adorable puppies that likely generated millions of “awws” and “so cute” as replies.
These holidays vary in their importance. Some are federal holidays, some are not, and others are, well, made up. Still, these hashtags provide us with avenues to connect with others who want to celebrate the same things on the same day.
For example, today’s relevant holiday, Easter Sunday, will undoubtedly provide us with ample hashtags to use. Go to Twitter or Facebook and search for #Jesus, #Eggs, #Peeps and #CreepyBunnies to see the trends.
However, today is also #NationalJoeDay. According to NationalDayCalendar.com, it’s a celebration of everyone named “Joe” or those who have some variant of the name (e.g., Josephine, Joanne).
It’s also #NationalSpanishPaellaDay. Why make ham for Easter when you can make a tasty rice-based dish from Spain?
That we use hashtags to legitimize lesser-known holidays is certainly peculiar, but nonetheless entertaining. Some of these holidays are the Hallmark type, created primarily for commercial purposes, used to sell cards and candy (e.g., Sweetest Day in mid-October).
Other holidays come out of the blue. For example, yesterday was #NationalSpinachDay.
Giving credit where credit is due, Darryl Villacorta of Sprout Social uncovered an interesting list of hashtag holidays. You can see Villacorta’s list by searching Google for “Hashtag Holidays Sprout Social.”
Here are a few of Villacorta’s interesting holidays to add to your 2016 calendar:
April 16 is “Wear Your PJs to Work Day” accompanied by the hashtag #PJDay. I have to admit, I’ve always been a little jealous of my elementary school- and preschool-aged children who get the occasional pajama day at school. May 3 is “Teacher Appreciation Day.” As a teacher, this is one of my favorite holidays. Be sure to celebrate on social media using the hashtag #ThankATeacher. Pull out your yearbook and find some pictures of your favorite teachers and post your gratitude.
Aug. 15 is “National Relaxation Day,” a day set aside to unwind and relax. Meditate, do some yoga, read a book. If social media stresses you out, today is the day to unplug. You can always use Aug. 16 to tweet about how relaxed you feel using the hashtags #DayAfter #NationalRelaxationDay.
You can follow Darryl Villacorta on Twitter at @TheMiddle.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.