Inventing the holidays

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For decades, Chase’s Calendar of Events has served as an authoritative reference guide to holidays, anniversaries, and miscellaneous special events. Published by McGraw-Hill, it’s got entries for everything from Flag Day and Washington’s birthday to National Horseradish Month.

If you’d like to see a particular event included the book, simply fill out an online form, and the editors will consider it. There are no guarantees, however. According to a New York Times article last May, An organization has to agree to sponsor the holiday, or there has to be some sort of ongoing promotion or tangible enthusiasm for it. You can’t get too greedy, either: the National Confectioners Association, for example, currently recognizes four separate chocolate holidays. As a consequence, I won’t have that in the book, explains Holly McGuire, the book’s editor. If they’re not taking a stand, then I’m not going to.

Yesterday marked Chase’s 50th anniversary. According to the McGraw-Hill website, the first edition (for the year 1958) was 32 pages long, contained 364 entries, and sold for $1. Next year’s edition, by contrast, runs some 750 pages long, contains more than 12,500 entries, and sells for almost $65 on Amazon.com.

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