October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s also National Physical Therapy Month, National Pharmacists Month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month and more than a dozen others. Other months of the year are similarly crowded. One online calendar lists more than 30 “months” for May alone.
How do all these months get scheduled?
It may have escaped your notice that October was Lupus Awareness Month. That’s “was,” past tense.
Lupus Month is now in May, but in 1994, when Duane Peters started working for the Lupus Foundation of America, it was October.
“We noticed that over the years the month became very crowded,” says Peters, who is now the organization’s senior communications director.
He won’t say breast cancer was the only big competitor, but that disease did lock up a lot of corporate support, which created awkward conversations.
“Certainly it would behoove us,” he says, “not to put a company in that position where they say, ‘Gee whiz, we already do something for breast cancer. We like lupus, we want to support it, but… ‘”
In 2003, the Lupus Foundation started looking seriously at May. It took years: first to decide, then to switch.
Other months are more straightforward. I asked Pam Paladin, who runs marketing for the American Association of Orthodontists, why October was National Orthodontic Health Month.
“As it turns out, the week following Halloween is generally the busiest week for orthodontists for emergency appointments,” she says.
Caramel apples — not so kind to braces. Be aware.
But what about all those commemorative days?
Sure, you’ll spend October being aware of all sorts of stuff, but if you’re wishing there were more to commemorate in a more arbitrary way, the month is full of many obscure holidays. In fact, you could spend every single day in October celebrating something. Some of these days are more official than others, but no matter. We assembled the list with some help from Marketplace’s professional datebook-er Michelle Philippe, who also reminded us that October is American Cheese Month.
October 9 — Leif Erikson Day
October 13 — National Kick Butt Day. Not to be confused with the anti-smoking Kick Butts day. Also happens to be Columbus Day.
October 16 — Take your Parents to Lunch Day and National Feral Cat Day
October 24 —National Food Day, kind of a catch-all. Not to be confused with…
October 25 —National Greasy Food Day
October 31 — National Breadstix Day. There’s conflicting information on this one, but you should probably give your trick-or-treaters bread anyway.