Spotlight: When and How to Celebrate National Pink Day
National Pink Day is a day to celebrate all things pink—clothes, art, causes, you name it.
Despite our society’s attempt to make pink an exclusively feminine color, pink has a long history of moving seamlessly between genders. Anyone can and should wear pink—as long as it’s your color.
Do you know when and how to celebrate National Pink Day? Keep reading for the low-down on a simple holiday with a long history.
When Is National Pink Day?
The United States celebrates National Pink Day on June 23rd every year.
Why Does Pink Get Its Own Day?
Pink isn’t just a color: it represents all kinds of things for different people. Although the origin or creator of the national day isn’t known, we don’t question it.
If any color deserved its own day, pink might be it. Pink holds a particular fascination in global history, and that has evolved continuously over the past few hundred years.
History of the Color Pink
Today, our first association of the color pink is with femininity, but it’s only very recently that this bright, varied color was co-opted into a marketing scheme to sell more products to growing families.
In fact, people have made pink into many things at different points in history, and its meaning remains in flux even today.
What Is Pink?
To understand why pink has been pushed and pulled all over the map, you need to know one thing: it’s rare to see pink in nature. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and shades of pink are primarily manufactured.
For that reason, it makes the word “pink”’s late seventeenth-century entrance into the English language forgivable. People don’t need words for colors they don’t see every day.
Pink anchors itself within red, a primary color. When you see pink, you see a mix of primary colors that together create the precise shade you interpret as pink.
Pink in the World
Cultures around the world have a special meaning for pink. We’ll start with the European and American experiences of this color.
Renaissance artists were the first to include shades of pink in their regular palettes. But for most, experiences with the color pink began three centuries ago when the most popular eighteenth-century fashion houses made the shade popular among high-end clientele and fashionistas of the period.
Pink wasn’t only a fashion statement. The early psychologists practicing in the late eighteenth century saw pink as acceptable home decor. Gentlemen with an entrepreneurial or business flare painted their bedrooms pink to create an uplifting space that would benefit their home and work lives.
Pink picked up steam from the eighteenth century onwards. Rococo designs favored pink and catapulted to the public consciousness. It only continued during nineteenth-century infatuation of Japanese aesthetics - Japonisme - and into the Impressionist movement of France.
Pink was light, beautiful, and a mode of expression.
By the time the twentieth century began, however, pink’s role had begun to change. It flourished once again, but the Pop Art movement made it flashy and sent it back to the center of mainstream culture. Artists discovered new ways and rediscovered old manners of using the color to show how it could be sweet or innocent but also active or powerful.
How has the rest of the world experienced the color pink? In Japan, people associate the color pink as a symbol of a fallen samurai. Koreans see the color pink as a sign that the bearer can be trusted. The Chinese previously had a seventeenth-century word for the shade that translates to “foreign color.”
Pink as Feminine
Eighteenth-century men were immediately recognized as fashionable when caught out in a pink suit made of silk and embroidered with flowers. With its roots in red, pink was masculine. After all, red is the color of blood.
National Pink Day might immediately seem feminine in nature, but only because advertisers worked to collectively capture pink and put it to work for their own uses.
Assigning pink to femininity and girls happened over time and developed as part of a newfound obsession with assigning sex and gender roles for girls and boys, even from birth.
Until the mid-nineteenth century, almost every baby wore a white dress that made diaper changing and clean-up. White didn’t just represent the angelic cherub faces of young children; it was also far easier to bleach and clean up than colored clothing—a must for any child in diapers.
Pastel baby clothes entered the scene in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but even then clothing makers didn’t divvy up warmer colors into girls’ clothing and cool colors for little boys.
Even in 1918, common media publications like Ladies’ Home Journal noted that pink was a more suitable color for boys because it is “a more decided and stronger color” while blue is daintier and delicate, thereby more suitable for girls.
In 1927, Time magazine studied the colors used for gendered products in stores and created a chart to show how stores told parents how to dress their children.
It was in the 1940s that it was finally decided that girls wear pink and boys don blue. The Baby Boomer generation was the first to be raised with assigned, gendered colors that were synonymous with their sex. There was no more flitting between some boys wear pink, and some wear blue: it was decided. Or it was decided for thirty years.
The women’s liberation movement recognized what was happening and made the use of gendered colors as part of the campaign.
Movement participants advocated for the use of gender-neutral colors in children’s toys and clothes to avoid assigning gender roles at birth and encouraging children to discover their own likes, dislikes, and behaviors through growth and development.
Pink in Our Vocabulary
Pink is more than a color: it’s a lifestyle. As such, it has infiltrated our vocabulary in ways you might forget about it. Some phrases are old, and some are new: all are pink.
Our favorites include:
- Pink slip - to be fired from your job
- Tickled pink - to be very happy or pleased
- See pink elephants - hallucinating
- Pink Money - economic jargon referring to the LGBT community’s spending power
5 Ways to Celebrate National Pink Day
Pink is so much more than a color or an idea, so there’s no wrong way to celebrate. Out of ideas? Here are some unique ways to celebrate pink’s incredible history.
Visit a Textile Museum
Pink and fashion are intimately linked together, and wearing pink has always sent a message about the kind of person you are.
Visit your local textile museum to learn how the pink clothes that make the man are made.
Take a Painting Class
Renaissance artists first started the European conversation about pink. Follow in their footsteps by learning how to mix your own shades of pink in a painting class. See how many tones you can create from red and find new ways to hide them in your paintings.
Get Involved with a Pink Cause
Several causes use pink as a way of reaching out and generating awareness. Use National Pink Day to celebrate one of the causes close to your heart. Donate, put together an event, or find a way to volunteer.
Some causes that use pink include:
- Breast cancer awareness
- Bullying, homophobia, and transphobia (International Day of Pink)
Wear Something Pink
Don’t have the time or energy to organize more than an outfit? Wear any shade of pink to celebrate the diversity of the color.
Add Some Pink to Your Life
Whether you see pink as a delicate or sturdy color, add some to your life. Plant some pink flowers, buy a pink home product, or just choose the pink version of a product you’d usually buy in a different color.
If You Like National Pink Day, You Might Also Like…
Love all the colors of the rainbow? Try celebrating one of these national days.
National Dress in Blue Day - First Friday or March
Celebrate your blue jeans and any other blue garments the first Friday of every March. Wear a great pair of jeans or go for the full Canadian tuxedo—blue denim on the top and bottom.
Purple Day - March 26th
Purple Day aims to raise awareness of epilepsy and associated causes. March 26th is a day for people around the world to wear purple and create events to support awareness of this condition.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October
Breast cancer and the pink ribbon are synonymous thanks to some great marketing tricks. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer charities and research organizations encourage participants to wear pink and buy pink-themed merchandise in solidarity with breast cancer patients and survivors.
National Green Week
Go green with National Green Week, an annual awareness campaign run by the Green Education Foundation.
In addition to donning your favorite green apparel, get involved with one of the six sustainability projects the Green Education Foundation runs including:
- Green Thumb Challenge
- Green Energy Challenge
- I Ride Challenge
- Green Building Program
- Sustainable Water Challenge
- Waste Reduction Challenge