April National Days
If you can get through 1st April without being made a fool of, there are some great days to look forward to & celebrate this month:
Alcohol Awareness Month
Autism Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
Jazz Appreciation Month
STD Awareness Month
1 April Fools’ Day
Also known as All Fools’ Day. It’s unclear where this originated from but is believed to have started in France. Until 1564, we used the Julian Calendar & New Year fell at the end of March. In some areas, the celebrations would last a week, until the beginning of April. With the switch to the Gregorian Calendar, New Year’s Day fell on the 1st January. Those who carried on with the April celebrations were jeered & called fools.
1 International Pillow Fight Day
Basically a lot of massive pillow fights in cities around the world! Started (along with other unique projects) by The Urban Playground Movement as a way to utilise public spaces, it is now in it’s 8th year. Organize your own pillow fight or visit one of the events held In 100+ cities around the world – what a fun thing to plan your holiday around!
2 International Children’s Book Day
A celebration of children’s books. Held on Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday, the day is celebrated to inspire a love of reading. Each year the Day is sponsored by a different country member of the International Board on Books for Young People. It decides on a theme and invites an author from that country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster.
2 World Autism Awareness Day
A United Nations day. Autism is a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions. World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) activities help to increase & develop knowledge of autism & the importance of early diagnosis & intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe. In celebration of WAAD & help raise awareness, the Light It Up Blue campaign sees buildings across the world take on a blue hue.
2 The Boat Race
An annual rowing race between Oxford & Cambridge Universities that takes place on the River Thames. The challenge was started by two friends, Charles Wordsworth & Charles Merivale who met at Harrow School but attended different colleges. First held in 1829, it is a major rivalry between the two universities.
3 World Party Day
An annual celebration on 3rd April for a happy world. It all started in 1996 from an idea in Vanna Bonta’s book, Flight & the idea caught on. It’s tagline is ‘the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s party’!
3-9 Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week
To raise awareness of the importance of checking yourself & getting checked out. Every year over 43000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate, testicular & penile cancer yet caught early enough, lives could be saved. The Orchid charity was set up in 1996 by a testicular cancer patient & the oncologist who saved his life to offer support, education, awareness campaigns & research programmes.
4 International Carrot Day
Celebrated yearly on 4th April. It was started in 2003 to spread knowledge about the carrot and its good attributes around the world. Carrots are usually orange although purple, white, yellow & red varieties can also be found. A versatile root vegetable, they can be boiled, eaten raw, juiced or baked in cakes. A good source of vitamin A, carrots also provide dietary fibre & vitamins K & B6.
5 National Caramel Day (USA)
Not to be confused with Chocolate Caramel Day on 19th March! A softer, chewier version of the English toffee, caramels were invented in America & came over to the UK in the 1880s. They are made in much the same way with butter & sugar although caramels have cream added (some toffees do too) & are heated to a lower temperature.
6 Tartan Day
Marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 at Arbroath Abbey. This historical occasion sowed the seeds of modern day democracy and was used as a basis for the American Declaration of Independence. Tartan Day was first celebrated in Canada. It was such a success that America joined in & in 2004 the House of Representatives decreed that April 6, the date of the signing of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, should be established as National Tartan Day. The Tartan Day Scotland Festival takes place at the beginning of April each year. The Festival is a programme of special events which commemorate all that is best about Scotland and the Scots, home and away.
7 World Health Day
To mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The day is used as an opportunity to highlight a current global health priority & the theme for this year is food safety. Unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized new threats are constantly emerging. Food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances is responsible for more than 200 diseases. Be informed to ensure that the food on your plate is safe to eat.
7 Walk to Work Day
Help your heart & de-stress at the same time by walking to work – or at least part of the way. It’s a better start to the day than sitting in a traffic jam or on a crowded bus or train & cheaper than a gym. You’ll also be helping the environment at the same time by cutting down on carbon emissions.
8 Grand National
Steeplechase horse race first run in 1839. The original course took the horses & riders over a stone wall. across a ploughed field & finished with two hurdles. The current course at Aintree is over conventional fences & hurdles but is famed for its unpredictable nature and rightly so, in the past century five 100/1 shots have triumphed over the famous fences.
9 Winston Churchill Day (USA)
On this day in 1963, Winston Churchill became an Honorary Citizen of the United States. Regarded as one of Britain’s greatest statesman, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 &1951 – 1955. Why not mark the day with a visit to his birthplace, Blenheim Palace.
9 Palm Sunday
Celebrates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. It is the last Sunday of Lent & marks the start of Holy Week, culminating in Easter Sunday. It gets its name from the palm branches waved in his honour by the crowds that gathered to see him.
10-16 World Homeopathy Awareness Week
Founded by homeopath, Gabrielle Traub in 2004. Homeopathy is a form of complimentary medicine where small doses of a natural substance are used to cure the same symptoms it would cause if taken in large amounts. Developed by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 from his belief that ‘like cures like’, the substance is diluted in water repeatedly until virtually none of the original substance remains. Scientifically, the medicine is just a placebo. Does it work? Find out more during the week when free public events such as lectures, media interviews, volunteer first-aid at sports events, free & reduced clinics, written materials, pieces on Twitter and Facebook, publication articles and much more.
10-16 National Gardening Week
Launched in 2011 by the Royal Horticultural Society to encourage people to enjoy their gardens & take up gardening. Garden related events are held up & down the country from workshops to guided walks & garden parties.
10-16 UK Coffee Week
A nationwide fundraising initiative where coffee operators, trade professionals and their customers join together to celebrate the vibrancy of British coffee culture while raising valuable funds for the communities which grow our coffee. All funds raised during this week go directly to Project Waterfall, an initiative established to bring clean water and sanitation to coffee growing communities around the world.
10-16 Parkinson’s Awareness Week
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine, people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear. One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s; around 127,000 people in the UK and there is currently no cure. This years campaign is all about getting everyone to be a whole lot friendlier. Holding open a door or a little patience in a long queue can brighten up someone’s day but for people with Parkinson’s, it can make all the difference.
11 Cheese Fondue Day
A dish of melted cheese & wine served in a communal pot into which cubes of bread are dipped. The word fondue is from the French verb fondre, to melt. Already a popular dish in Switzerland, Italy & France, the Swiss Cheese Union promoted it in the 1930s as a Swiss national dish to encourage the sale of cheese. It made it’s way to the USA in the 1960s & the UK in the 70s, becoming a dinner party regular.
11 National Pet Day (USA)
A day to celebrate & appreciate the pets in your life. Founded by celebrity pet lifestyle expert and animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige (she’s founded quite a few animal days!), to raise awareness about the importance of pet adoption – Don’t shop! Adopt! it is sponsored by the Animal Miracle Foundation, whose mission is to help animals in shelters find forever homes.
12 Liquorice Day
Started by Licorice International, an American company, hence usually spelt Licorice Day. Liquorice comes from the root of a plant related to the pea & originated in Asia before spreading west. It’s medicinal properties & ability to quench thirst were known as far back as the Pharaohs of Egypt. It was first grown in England at a monastery in Pontefract for the monks to use in medicine. In the 1700s, a local chemist experimented with mixing it with sugar & the famous Pontefract Cakes were born.
14 Good Friday
The day Jesus was crucified on a cross. Following the last supper, Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers & tried, whipped & made to wear a crown of thorns. He was then forced to carry a large wooden cross through Jerusalem & up a hill to the crucifixion site where he was nailed to the cross. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on this day to symbolise the cross that Jesus dies on. The name Good Friday is thought to be a derivative of God’s Friday.
15 Record Store Day
Celebrating the UK’s independent record shops. CDs are great but there’s nothing like the ritual of taking a record out of it’s cover & cleaning it before putting it on the turntable. A day of live bands, DJs & promoting records. Check out the official website for a list of what’s happening where.
16 Easter Sunday
For Christians, this is the end of Lent & a feast day to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to join God, his father, in Heaven. It joins with the pagan festival to celebrate rebirth & gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. Painted eggs were traditionally given as gifts to represent fertility & rebirth. We still use them today as decorations but since the mid 19th century have given chocolate eggs as gifts instead. Simnel Cake was originally a Mothering Sunday gift but has gradually become associated with Easter. It is a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan cooked in the middle & decorated with 11 balls to represent the apostles, excluding Judas.
17-23 International Dining Week (formerly National Eating In/Out Week) (TBC)
Organised by The Curry Charitable Fund to celebrate the diverse cuisines available in Britain. It also raises money for the malnourished & those living in disaster zones around the world. Each day pays homage to the different countries represented. The 19th starts with Spanish/Mexican, followed by Caribbean/Cajun, Thai/Malaysian, Japanese/Vietnamese/Korean, Chinese & finishing on 24th with Italian.
21 National Skipping Day
Organised by Skipping Workshops to encourage children to have healthy exercise through play. Last year 47,480 children took part in the simultaneous skipping event. It needn’t be just children either; there’s no reason why adults shouldn’t take advantage of this great cardio workout.
21 National Tea Day
We’re a nation of tea drinkers, reportedly drinking 165 million cups of tea a day so it’s only right that we have a day to honour it. Whether you like a builder’s, elegant Earl Grey or green, with milk or with lemon, there’s certainly plenty of choice. But it’s not just about the drink. The day also celebrates the way a tea break at any time of day brings people together, to talk or just sip companionably.
21-1 May Big Chocolate Tea
Organised by The Sick Children’s Trust. Host a tea party, cake sale or bake-off in the last week of April & raise money for the The Sick Children’s Trust. The charity provides accommodation for families with sick children in hospital. They currently have 10 homes around the country where the whole family can stay to be close to the child’s bedside. Just £30 will support a family for one night. Visit the Big Chocolate Tea website for more details & a free pack for your event.
22 Earth Day
Started in America in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 2009 it was adopted by the United Nations to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution. Some ideas to celebrate are: plant a tree, check you have a recycling system in place, get together with neighbours & tidy up the area where you live.
The patron saint of England, he is celebrated on the day of his death in 303AD. St George held the post of tribune in the Roman Army during the reign of the Emperor Diocletion. Diocletion wasn’t too keen on Christians & was in the habit of persecuting them, which George objected to. He complained to the Emperor & was thrown into prison & tortured for his effort. As he would not repent, Diocletion had him beheaded.
George was adopted as the patron saint of soldiers after he was said to have appeared to the Crusader army at the Battle of Antioch in 1098. Stories about George reached England carried by Crusaders who heard them from Byzantine Christians & were circulated by troubadours. King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) adopted St George as the army’s protector during his 1191-1192 Crusade & this was possibly when the red cross on a white background became part of the uniform of English soldiers. A holiday in honour of him, on 23 April was declared by the Synod of Oxford in 1222 and by the end of the 14th century, George had become the Patron Saint of England.
23 World Book Night
An annual celebration of reading and books run by the charity, The Reading Agency. World Book Night brings together publishers, printers, distributors, libraries, booksellers, private donors, trusts and foundations to inspire more people to read. Thousands of volunteers share their love of reading by giving out books to people in their communities who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books. National, regional and local events up and down the country celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives.
23 Drive it Day
Run by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs to celebrate the UK’s transport heritage. Owners of historic vehicles are encouraged to take to the roads on this day to demonstrate how many historic and interesting machines are still on the road today.
23 London Marathon
First held in 1981 & the ultimate running challenge for people that haven’t seriously run before. More than three quarters of competitors now run for a good cause & it is supposedly the largest annual fundraising event on the planet. Despite the long run, it is a day of fun with many competitors in fancy dress, bands playing & spectators cheering on.
24-30 Allergy Awareness Week
Organised by Allergy UK to draw attention to the plight of the allergy sufferer. The week raises awareness of all allergic conditions (including food, respiratory, skin and children’s allergies) & food intolerance. It highlights the issues faced by those with allergies as allergies are life changing and can be fatal.
25 Anzac Day (AUS & NZ)
25 World Penguin Day
What can you do to share the love of penguins? Find out more about penguins, explore what others have to say about penguins, tell your friends about penguins, send a penguin ecard, play penguin games and share the penguin love!
26 World Stationery Day
29 International Dance Day
29 Astronomy Day
Created in 1973 to raise the public’s interest in astronomy. Astronomy clubs, museums, universities & observatories hold special events around the country to get the public involved. For some, it’s a first chance to look through a telescope. The day is held twice a year around May & October, depending on the 1st quarter moon.