Some holidays are known around the world - Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter. Some are strictly religious observances - Rosh Hashanah, Eid-ul-Fitr, Ascension Day. Others are specific to individual nations - Waitangi Day, Bastille Day, Australia Day. But in the United States, we have some unique Hallmark holidays that are not widely observed by anyone other than greeting card companies. Some are even acknowledged by the federal government as nationally proclaimed holidays, but this does not guarantee increased recognition by society.

March 30th has been the official date for National Doctors' Day since 1933, when the holiday was first established as Doctors' Day. The date was chosen for its significance in the surgical profession - March 30, 1842 was the first day a surgeon used general anesthesia. The Congressional resolution for national recognition of the holiday came in 1958, and in 1991 the first celebration of the fully National Doctors' Day was held, following its signing the year before by then-President George H.W. Bush. Hallmark has only one card for National Doctors' Day. Secretary's Day, also known as Administrative Professionals Day, was formally established in 1952. The idea came from two professionals: Mary Barrett, the president of the National Secretaries Association, and C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation. They worked together with public relations specialist Harry Klemfuss and presented their idea to Commerce secretary Charles Sawyer, who established National Secretaries Week with the 4th specifically selected as the official day of recognition. Three years later, the celebration was moved back to the last full week of April, and the official day became the Wednesday of that week. In 1981, the National Secretaries Association became Professional Secretaries International, and the name of the holiday was accordingly changed to Professional Secretaries Day. The organizations name changed to the International Association of Administrative Professionals in 1998, and two years later the holiday became Administrative Professionals Day. Those who recognize this holiday typically do so with a card or flowers; some managers will give their secretaries time off. Hallmark offers 36 cards for Secretary's Day, plus an additional 26 in Spanish.

Although President Eisenhower was presented with the idea for National Nurses Day in 1953, he did not go ahead with the proclamation. Nurses waited until 1974 for their recognition, which came from President Nixon. In 1982, a joint resolution in Congress proclaimed May 6th as the national day for recognition of nurses; in 1991, the holiday was extended to a full week of celebration in part because nurses are often required to work long and strange hours. Hallmark had been making "You've Graduated Nursing School" cards since the 1950's, but they began making official National Nurses Day cards in 1992, and there are 23 card designs today. Nurses are also honored with gifts, dinners, and flowers.

In 1935, Congress proclaimed the first Sunday in August Friendship Day. The day is meant to encourage creative ways to show friendship, but some have said that setting aside a reserved day for friendship means we do not have good friendship practices during the rest of the year. Hallmark has no paper cards specifically for Friendship Day, but they do have 15 e-cards for the day; the company also has a line of friendship cards that are available all year round.

Mother's Day is in May, Father's Day is in June, and Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labor Day. It was initiated in 1970 by Marian McQuade, who spread the idea throughout her state. In 1973, the governor of West Virginia proclaimed the first Grandparents Day, and the proposal was introduced in the United States Congress. It took five years before it would be passed by the Senate, and the first national Grandparents Day was proclaimed by then-President Jimmy Carter in 1978. The holiday is intended to honor grandparents, and give both grandparents and grandchildren the opportunity to show love for each other. Grandchildren are especially encouraged to recognize the strength and guidance older relatives can offer to them. Hallmark offers 50 designs for Grandparents Day cards, including one design with slots for a gift card. The backs of the cards mention the purpose of Grandparents Day, and more than three million of these cards are sold annually.

One of the more esoteric holidays recognized by Hallmark is National Clergy Appreciation Day, which is the second Sunday in October. The non-profit group Under His Wing Ministries celebrated the first National Clergy Appreciation Day in 1992, encouraging religious people to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support for their religious workers. Suggestions for celebration include inviting the pastor to dinner, sending the minister a gift, and making donations or offerings in the priest's name. Hallmark has 35 cards for this holiday, including some with the artwork of Thomas Kinkade or Max Lucado.

The secretaries edged out their bosses by a few years: National Boss Day (also called Boss's Day) was created in 1958. A woman in Illinois named Patricia Haroski contacted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and registered the holiday on October 16th, which happened to be her father's birthday - she felt he was a good example of a good boss. Haroski felt that employees were not aware of the work bosses did to make companies run smoothly, and created the day to help improve employee-employer relations. As with Secretary's Day, traditional gifts include a card, lunch, or flowers. The first cards for National Boss Day were made by Hallmark in 1979. When the 16th falls on a weekend, many employees choose to honor their boss on the Friday or Monday closest to the day.

Always observed on the third Saturday in October, Sweetest Day is a regional celebration that is gaining popularity around the country. It started in Cleveland in 1922, when philanthropist Herbert Birch Kingston looked for a way to bring joy into the lives of the downtrodden, including orphans and shut-ins. He decided to distribute candy and small gifts to these people, and movie stars Ann Pennington and Theda Bara participated by passing out gifts. Sweetest Day is mostly observed in the Great Lakes region, but as that population has moved to different locations around the country, the holiday is turning up in other areas. Hallmark itself offers 142 card designs for the holiday, whose purpose now also includes the sharing of love and friendship amongst celebrants.

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written for nonficwrimo 06

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