Sweetest Day: Hallmark Holiday, or Something More?

It’s an Ohio thing, who knew? I didn’t, that’s for sure! But, I wanted to do a little digging into this so-called “Hallmark holiday” and find out what it’s really all about.

My Sunbird was not a convertible, but looked much like this one otherwise. There's a reason cars are special to me!

See, for me, Sweetest Day is something more. I admit to being cynical about it until 20 years ago, as I was about Valentine’s Day (“holidays that are great for someone who has a Valentine/Sweetest, and make the rest of us feel like crap”). What changed it for me twenty years ago was, I met my husband. Not on Sweetest Day, but on the night before Labor Day.

We met in a bar after a fireworks display. A friend of mine, who knew him through a friend, said hi, introduced us, then be-bopped off to someone else she knew, leaving me there at the table with the guy I had no idea I would marry, and his friend (whom he hasn’t seen since).  I got his number planning to have him work on my car, a Pontiac Sunbird with a bad oil leak. I couldn’t afford a repair shop bill – heck, couldn’t afford any repair bill at that moment – but a month later, I had some money saved so I called him.

I dropped off the car on a Monday night. He called the next evening to let me know what was wrong with it (cracked head gasket) and how much the repairs would cost, then we talked for an hour about all kinds of things. When I picked up the car a few days later, I paid him $400 to fix what would have cost three times that (or more) at a shop, and he asked me out for the following Saturday night.

Sweetest Day editorial that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in October, 1922 (click to enlarge)

That Saturday was Sweetest Day. He left roses on my doorstep earlier that afternoon, while I was out shopping.

Some sources credit Herbert Birch Kingston for starting Sweetest Day in Cleveland in 1922. His original purpose was to spread some cheer to orphans, elderly shut-ins, and other downtrodden or lonely folks by giving them gifts of candy. Kingston was employed by a candy maker, so there was certainly a commercial component to Sweetest Day’s origins. Other sources claim it was totally commercial, the concoction of a federation of Cleveland area candy industry insiders. Although the initial intention was to encourage people to gift candy to anyone, it’s mostly celebrated in romantic relationships  modern-day practice.

So, Sweetest Day is a bit more than just a “Hallmark holiday” for me. (Despite its long history, Valentine’s Day is still pretty much that.) I had never really heard of Sweetest Day before high school (1980), but it turns out it’s been around a lot longer – and it was started in Ohio!

The sources I found all stated that Sweetest Day is still largely celebrated in the Great Lakes states, and not much elsewhere – also something I didn’t know, being a lifelong Ohioan.

Sweetest Day is this Saturday, October 15th. I still don’t know what I’m going to get for my husband. Often, we just go out to dinner, which is what we did on our first date.

Do you do anything for Sweetest Day? Or is it a Hallmark holiday for you (or less)? Do you have a fun story of how you met a significant other? Please share!

Car photo via motorbase.com (unattributed)
Sweetest Day newspaper clipping via Wikipedia.org

5 Responses to \

  1. I’ve never heard of Sweetest Day. My hubby and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day either really. We are not particularly romantic people, although I do like having an excuse to dine out. Good for your husband going for the big gesture with roses – very sweet.

  2. What a great love story, Jennette. It shouldn’t surprise me that you would meet a guy who knows his way around vehicles, knowing how you appreciate cars and bikes.

    Being a Ohian myself, I’ve always known of Sweetest day, but must admit didn’t realize it was this Saturday. Hubby will probably be out in the field harvesting, so we won’t do anything special. But then he pretty much makes me feel special everyday.