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Sweetest Day History and Ideas

written by: Vicki Perry • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 6/6/2012

Mostly a holiday believed to be for sweethearts, gifts or candies are given to those that are in your life as loved ones. The history of Sweetest Day may surprise you, as it was not a holiday started by greeting card companies.

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    Jimmy observes sweetest day in 1922 Sweetest Day is growing more popular throughout the country. Acknowledged in the Midwest, it is celebrated on the 3rd Saturday of October. Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio residents pass out small presents, cards, flowers, candy and good wishes to anyone they feel is “sweet”, no matter their relationship to them. Romantic Sweetest Day ideas fly through stores and the Internet, in hopes that candy sales, gift ideas, cards and flower sales all go up for this romantic holiday.

    The Sweetest Day wasn't started to show your romantic side to your loved one however. It holds a history of showing love to all humanity that needs it. The history of Sweetest Day may surprise you!

    The basic principle of Sweetest Day does not pertain to religious beliefs either, but more of a belief that humans should be good and kind to each other. The history of this holiday traces back decades ago, to a man that had a good heart.

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    History of the Sweet Day

    In 1921, the story in the Plain Dealer of Cleveland was printed, delighting readers everywhere. The tale was not of another holiday 12 candymakers on Sweetest Day Committee where sweethearts were graced with gifts from each other, nor one of candy hearts given to those who already have everything. The tale was about those who live on the other side of the tracks and one tale that is worth retelling.

    During the Great Depression, Herbert Birch Kingston, a candy store employee, decided that the people of the area were overlooking the orphan’s and shut-ins of Cleveland. The distribution of small gifts and candy became a goal of Kingston, with the help of friends and neighbors on a Saturday of October. People in the region soon caught on and decided to follow his lead.

    The story of the first designated Sweetest Day begins under stormy, rainy skies. The "Sweetest Day in the Year" committee decided to uplift the spirits of fellow Clevelanders, 10,000 of them to be exact, by the distribution of candy boxes to orphanages and charitable institutions. Ann Pennington, a celebrity of the Ohio Theater and Theda Bara, who was the vampire of the big screen, sent out five thousand additional boxes. This marked the first of the Sweetest Day in the Year celebrations. The day was inaugurated on October 8, 1922.

    Twenty five hundred paperboys ran to the Cleveland Advertising Club in the Hotel Statler to receive their candy boxes from Ms. Pennington. During this time, Theda Bara gave away another 2,000 boxes in front of the Loew’s State Park and the Liberty theaters.

    Cards were mailed to many families made up of names from charitable organizations around the area. Each person holding a card appeared to receive a free box of candy from Ms. Pennington and Ms. Bara.

    C.C. Hartzell was chair of the Sweetest Day in the Year committee and E.G. Winger watched over the candy give-away. Cheers sprang up all over the Cleveland area at each place they stopped to pass out the candy.

    The development of the holiday is to bring joy to all. The candy was passed out to those who were not able to purchase it. The inauguration to make Sweetest Day in the Year a national holiday began immediately.

    Weeks before the event took place; the Plain Dealer housed many advertisements for the purchase of candy. Advertisements boasted such claims as the Sweetest Day in the Year should represent the giving away of candy to everyone in the family and to your sweetheart, as well. It was even called “Everybody’s happy day.” Marketing strategy had begun for the holiday, as it does for every celebrated holiday in the United States.

    In 1922, more advertisements hit the newsstands as inserts in various newspapers. Articles about Sweetest Day bringing joy to the city’s orphans with the Woman’s club in the area passing out candy to the less fortunate children were featured.

    The holiday wasn’t created to sell cards this time, but candy for those who could not afford to purchase it themselves. It is a holiday based on giving of the human heart. To give to charities for Sweetest Day is a memorable way to celebrate this wonderful holiday. Giving to your family members, friends and sweethearts is perfect as well, sharing the gift of giving to those around you, while not forgetting those less fortunate, is the true spirit of the holiday.

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    Share the Love

    After sharing gifts with anyone that is down on their luck or disabled, you might choose to share love and the gift of giving with your sweetheart. Sweetest Day ideas can be the giving of smaller gifts to say, "I care about you," such as boxes of candy, flowers, and cards. Depending on where you live, it may be a bit more difficult to find Sweetest Day cards, however you can locate them on E-card sites.

    Gift ideas include:

    • Making candy, filling decorative containers or gift boxes with a mixture of soaps, potpourri or small gift items are wonderful ways to say you care.
    • A romantic candle light dinner with rose petals leading your sweetheart to the table is a very romantic way of letting your partner know you love them.
    • Visit a children’s home or hospital this Sweetest Day and share some time with those who are lonely and in need of a friend.
    • Send thank you cards to your friends and family members, just as a reminder of how much they mean to you on a daily basis.
    • As a more romantic gift for your sweetheart, get two boxes that will be able to fit inside of each other. Place as many boxes as you can inside the larger boxes until you have many. Place chocolates or sweets in the boxes lined with tissue paper. Continue filling each box until the boxes are filled with chocolate pieces.
    • Give candles in all scents, decorative styles and sizes. Place some ribbon around the base of them to dress them up for the recipient.
    • A gift card to a special place says plenty to those you wish to let know that you love them or care about them.
    • Chocolate covered strawberries and champagne enjoyed while taking a long hot bubble bath or giving a massage to someone you love, shares the love you have for your spouse or loved one as well.

    However you decide to celebrate, make it count! Showing someone you care, can be as simple as giving them a hug, running an errand for an elderly person or simply spending a bit of time listening to their stories. Romantic Sweetest Day ideas are a great way to share the day with your sweetheart; however, be sure to also celebrate by enjoying humankind of all ages, all relationships to you and of all races. The holiday has more meaning when it's celebrated the way it was intended - with an open heart, kind words, a smile, and a box of candy for those less fortunate who appreciate it immensely.

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