It’s almost time to honor the people who keep company websites running, maintain Twitter accounts or archive company documents.
Yes, it’s almost May 17, the eighth International Virtual Assistant Day, when virtual assistants will celebrate with colleagues to recognize their efforts. And from May 17-19, virtual assistants around the world will join an online convention to network and share ideas.
Holidays used to be created to observe special occurrences, such as Memorial Day to remember those who died in battle, or religious days, such as Christmas. Some started out that way and became known for other things, such as St. Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Then companies got into the act of promoting products through special days, like NASCAR Day (third Friday in May) or National Painting Week, April 15-21, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams.
And while days honoring teachers and nurses have existed for decades, organizations for less-well-known professions have been establishing more special days and asking holiday-listing websites and publications to recognize them. International Virtual Assistant Day is one of those professional holidays.
“It gives a virtual assistant an opportunity to step back and to assess their own business growth and development,” said Sharon Williams, founder of the International Virtual Assistants Convention. “It also gives them a time to develop new relationships with other VAs that they didn’t know.”
Sheila Cicchi has taken note of International Virtual Assistant Day and placed it on her site, brownielocks.com, where she has listed holidays for more than 15 years.
Recently, someone asked Cicchi if there was an observance for cleaning ladies or maids. She said there was not, at least not listed by her, yet.
“I think people want to be appreciated for their hard work,” Cicchi said. “Those that do jobs that we either take for granted or don’t know about, want a bit of a spotlight or attention at least one day a year. Call it their 24 hours of fame.”
So who says what is a holiday and what isn’t?
Chase’s Calendar of Events, which has listed holidays and celebrations around the world for more than 56 years, has become somewhat of an authority. Chase’s accepts online submissions for any holiday, but requires proof such as the history of the celebration and a website before the day is accepted and added to avoid pranks. Cicchi has similar guidelines for her list as well.
Holly McGuire, Chase’s editor-in-chief, said she recently got a call from an organization that is putting together a day for medical recruiters. According to McGuire, professional holidays help people explain what they do.
“They want to make sure people understand professions that aren’t well publicized,” McGuire said.
Husband Caregiver Day, which coincides with Father’s Day, was created by Dr. Richard Boyd in 2005 to recognize men who take care of spouses when they have become ill. And then there is National Medical Dosimetrists Day (third Wednesday in August), spawned by the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists, to honor members of the radiation oncology team who plan out the radiation doses to treat cancer patients.
“A lot of times when people are being treated for cancer they don’t even know what the dosimetrist role is,” said Stacey Wilson, director of marketing for the organization.
To be fair, the difference between federal, state or recognized holidays and special days like professional holidays are clear. The president and Congress can declare federal holidays, which give federal workers the day off. State holidays are signed by officials in the state and celebrated there, like Rhode Island Independence Day (May 4) or Truman Day (May 8) for the former president, which is celebrated in his home state of Missouri. Recognized holidays or religious celebrations are very popular observances that pay tribute to something, such as Mother’s Day (May 12) or Cinco de Mayo (May 5). And special days were invented to promote something or just for fun, like No Socks Day (May 8).
Thomas and Ruth Roy created about 90 special days for more than 20 years by entering them into Chase’s. Now about six years retired from their holiday-creation hobby, they are still known for some of the most creative ones, all listed on their website. Tom’s personal favorite is “Stay at Home Because You’re Well Day” (Nov. 30).
“When I was a kid, just like other kids I used to fake being sick,” he said. “When I became an adult, I just wanted to call in well.”
He believes that everybody is entitled to create a holiday or celebration for others to enjoy, with no need for greeting cards.
“I don’t need Hallmark to tell me to do something,” Tom said. “Everybody is free to do whatever they want as long as it’s not hurting anybody else.”
And so they have, resulting in many overlapping professional holidays. This year May 8 is National Third Shift Workers Day, National Night Shift Workers Day and Receptionist Day; they all fall on the second Wednesday in May.
Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day is also May 8 this year, because it falls on the Wednesday of the first full week in May. The American Society of Safety Engineers started the celebration in 2006 as a part of North American Occupational Safety & Health Week to pay tribute to safety professionals everywhere. This year Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has already issued a decree for the observance.
During the week, safety workers go into schools and explain safety equipment and talk about the profession. They also hold open houses within their companies to show how safe they are.
But in addition to maids, other professionals have yet to get a special time to recognize their efforts, at least in the United States.
Programmers’ Day, which was declared a holiday in Russia a few years ago, has not caught on in America. The special observance falls on the 256th day of the year, which is Sept. 13 (Sept. 12 in leap years). Maybe, once the virtual assistants are done celebrating, they can help set it up.