What a difference a day makes

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

Today, I'm going to be drinking coffee. Of course, because it's a day with a "y'' in it. But today I can drink coffee with special purpose and meaning because today is International Coffee Day.

International Coffee Day, you'd think, by virtue of the name, would be celebrated internationally. But it turns out, in the fine print, that today is only International Coffee Day if you live in the US of A. Which begs the question: what the heck?

I'm clutching at straws to suppose that there are new and protective trade regulations that mean people in the US can only drink coffee grown in California or Hawaii (or that stuff in filter pots made out of old diesel oil which doesn't count because it isn't actually coffee) every other day of the year, and then on September 29 they splash out on something exotic like a single origin Yirgacheffe roast from Ethiopia or a possum-pooed Luwak brew from Bali.

So perhaps the internet, or the Americans, or my addled jet-lagged understanding of both, are wrong about the timing. International Coffee Day, according to inter-agreements with other nations, (like Italy, where small coffee is big business, and Brazil, where they make 40% of the world's supply) is also on October 1, and I'm OK with having to drink coffee again that day just to be sure.

As well as being as good a reason as any for a coffee fest, it's International Lace Day today in the States, though that particular festival seems to have been celebrated on July 1 in Ireland and Spain. And yesterday was International Ask a Stupid Question Day.

Yes, of course, it started in the 1980s in the good ol' USA, but it's had a bit of traction in India and the UK. So-called-stupid questions and answers are often where the gold is, like this one from the UK's AnyQuestionsAnswered text service - Q: What's the opposite of a camel? A: The opposite of a camel is a soap dish: it has dimples instead of humps and lives in a mostly moist area. I might be jet-lagged, or that might be genius. Anyway, Benjamin Franklin said it is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. So. Yesterday was also International Safe Abortion Day. Not-so-stupid question for anyone in authority: why isn't every day an International Safe Abortion Day? More constructive question, perhaps: how can we make sure every day is an International Safe Abortion Day?

Truth be told, almost every day of the calendar has been co-opted for celebration, protest, commemoration or creative space. The United Nations has a long and worthy list including days for parliamentarism, asteroids, press freedom, oceans and, of course, poetry. They tell me that yesterday was also World Rabies Day. And that bothers me. Not just because rabies is awful. But the linguistics of the thing. It should be World Day Against Rabies. Otherwise it sounds like a happy spotlight.

I have a suspicion that deciding on having an International Day of Whatever might just be as easy as having a calendar, a couple of connections and some big ideas.

To be fair, most of these International Days pass most of us by, a blip on the slactivist radar, or a chance to wear an eye patch for a while. I missed World Sparrow Day in March. I paid my Jedi dues on May 4th and I'm not too bothered that I completely ignored International Talk Like a Pirate Day a couple of weeks ago. International Skeptics Day is on October 13th, or is it?

And I'm looking forward to World Smile Day in October if I can only properly establish the date. I wouldn't want to go around smiling if it wasn't the proper time.

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