How beautiful a day can be.
When kindness touches it!
— George Elliston
Sweetest Day, observed on the 3rd Saturday in the month of October, has its origin in Cleveland in 1922, during the Great Depression. About 60 years ago, Herbert Birch Kingston, a Cleveland man and a candy store employee felt that the city's orphans and shut-ins were often being overlooked and neglected. To instill in them a sense of being cared for, he distributed small gifts and candy to those who had fallen on hard times, with the help of his friends and neighbors, on a Saturday in October. Other Clevelanders soon followed suit, and the celebration came to be known as the "Sweetest Day."
On the first Sweetest Day, movie star Ann Pennington presented 2,200 Cleveland newspaper boys with boxes of candy to express gratitude for the service they render to the public. Theda Bera, another popular movie star distributed 10,000 boxes of candy to the people in Cleveland hospitals and also offered candy to all those who came to watch her film in a local theater.
Primarily a regional observance, Sweetest Day is celebrated in the Midwestern U.S. states of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio. The day is gaining popularity and spreading to the other areas of the country. This tradition now seems to largely involve giving small presents, such as cards, candy and flowers, to family, friends, and lovers. It offers an opportunity to reach out and spread happiness. Sweetest Day does not pertain to any particular religion, but is based on the broader and all-encompassing principle of expressing kindness, affection and good wishes to others.
I was introduced to Sweetest Day in 1968 by my freshman dorm hall mates at Ohio Wesleyan University. The only rule was that gifts or cards or flowers had to be handmade and the makings couldn't cost more than $2. I still have a number of those handmade treasures! Now it's still a special day for me, remembering my now far flung but ever so dear college friends and all the bountiful ways their friendships have sweetened my heart and life.