Sympathy Hanky, Oh Darn Hanky, and My New Year's Resolution

New Year's Eve fireworks in Seattle
When I was thirteen years old I attended a New Year’s Eve party at my church. In one of the games each person wrote a resolution on a slip of paper and placed it into a bowl. Everyone drew one, read it aloud, and all tried to guess who wrote it. I wrote, “I want to be a better person.” I was guessed immediately. I didn’t understand it was supposed to be a gag. I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions since. You have my permission to unfurl your Sympathy Hanky.

By my estimate—and I could be wrong, as they say—thousands of special days, weeks and months are observed every year. Some are obscure and some are well-known. Among the best-known in the United States are Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas. These often are marked on calendars.

Among obscure observances are Old Rock Day, National Yo-Yo Day, Presidential Joke Day, and Wear Brown Shoes Day. A longer list of these rarely celebrated occurrences is at Bizarre American Holidays. Be warned, though, it’s unlikely you will be successful in getting off work one of these days. Nor are you likely to find an appropriate greeting card (I authorize you to get out your Oh Darn Hanky), although you could pick up a blank card and write something. Your friends will be impressed that you cared enough.

Below is a list of literary and cultural observances in 2012 of which I am aware. (Winston Churchill would have been delighted had I written, "which I am aware of.") Most are in the U.S. where the word national usually means officially recognized by Congressional resolution, but not always. It’s possible I missed a few; what the heck, I may have missed a bunch. My New Year’s resolution is to write a little about each as it comes up. If you are aware of a well-known national observance along the lines of my list, and in any country, please leave your comments.

National Story Telling Week, January 28 – February 4, UK

Black History Month
Library Lovers' Month

National Women’s History Month
Greek-American Heritage Month
Irish-American Heritage Month

National Library Week, April 8 – 14
National Poetry Writing Month
National Card and Letter Writing Month

Asian Pacific-American History Month
Jewish-American Heritage Month

National Storytelling Conference, June 28 – July 1



National Book Festival, September 2
National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15
Banned Books Week, September 30 – October 6

Diversity Awareness Month
German-American Heritage Month
National Italian-American Heritage Month
Polish-American Heritage Month
National Book Month
National Storytelling Weekend, October 5 – 7
National Family History Month

National American Indian Heritage Month
National Life Writing Month   
National Novel Writing Month
Write Nonfiction in November


More information 
The Ultimate Literary Calendar 2012
Literature Calendars and Wall Calendars 2012
Calendar Club, United Kingdom
Multicultural Calendars 2012, Canada and United Kingdom 

Leave your comments on the literary and cultural activities will you observe in 2012.

Photo: New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington by Shannon Kringen


  1. Good list, Wayne. I'd forgotten about the National Women's History Month and the invitation to partcipate in our local university's observance. Thanks for the reminder. I need to get busy writing my submission for it.

    Love the picture of the Space Needle. I grew up in Seattle, remember the building of the Space Needle for the World's Fair in 1961, and have lots of good memories associated with that great Seattle symbol.

    Thanks for your inspiration today.


  2. I was at a conference in Seattle when 9/11 occurred. The conference was cancelled and we stayed an additional three days before we could get a plane.

  3. Kathy Hansen,, suggested at I saved the link for next year.

  4. Great post. I'll check the link. Since we have a Nat'l Letter and Card Writing month, I propose we initiate a "Email and Tweet Month." Kidding of course.

    I am interested in having my blog added to the Life Writers Forum. Thank you and Happy New Year! :)