States Census Bureau issued a press release last week to remind
the nation that September 18-24 is Unmarried and Single
Americans Week. According to the release, this is an
opportunity to "celebrate single life and recognize singles and
their contributions to society."
Throughout the year, the Census
Bureau issues "facts for features" information on popular
commemorative occasions such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and
Grandparent's Day. Some segments of the population get an
entire week, such as Administrative Professionals Week (formerly
known as National Secretaries Week) and National Nurses Week.
For the past
three years, the Census Bureau has chosen to bring Singles Week,
as some call it, to the attention of the American public.
In 2003 the Bureau released an audio announcement to radio
stations nationwide. Last year and this year it issued a
million unmarried and single Americans now heading up half of
the nation's households, it makes sense that our lives and our
contributions to society should be acknowledged in some official
way. After all, African Americans have Black History
Month, women have Women's History Month, and parents and
grandparents have their day in the spotlight. So why
should single people be ignored?
Singles Week has been around for a long time -- having been
created by a group in Ohio in 1982 -- it only started to gain
visibility when the American Association for Single People began
to promote it in 2001. Then, when that group changed its
name to Unmarried America the following year, the name of the
occasion was changed to Unmarried and Single Americans Week to
make it more inclusive. Many unmarried Americans do not
identify with the word "single" because they have long-term
partners or are attached to another person in a romantic
Over the past
few years, Unmarried America was successful in getting elected
officials to issue proclamations declaring the third week of
September as Unmarried and Single Americans Week in their
jurisdictions. Such proclamations have been issued by
mayors, city councils, and governors in some 33 states.
But the real
test of whether a commemorative occasion is going mainstream is
not whether a governor recognizes the occasion with a
proclamation, but whether people can buy a greeting card on a
store shelf, or perhaps in the era of the Internet whether one
can send an e-greeting appropriate to the situation.
practical method of measurement for success, we can safely
conclude that Singles Week has not caught on, at least not yet.
proclaims that people "who care enough to send the very best"
should use their products. Well, I wanted to give dozens
of unmarried people a greeting card this year but could not find
a Singles Week card on store shelves anywhere, Hallmark brand or
So I had to
design and produce my own greeting cards. Although it was
an interesting project, it was also very time consuming.
Listen up Hallmark (and American
Greetings too), you need to make this easier for folks like me
who want to recognize this large population of 87 million single
people by sending some of them a professionally designed card.
Greeting card companies, florists, and restaurants have cashed
in on occasions such as Secretaries Week, so why would they want
to miss the boat on Singles Week?
There are a
few companies providing online e-greetings for this
commemorative week, but the pickings are rather slim for people
looking for something appropriate. It's obvious from just
looking at the nature of these greetings that many would be
better placed among romantic cards for Valentine's Day.
designers and Internet marketing professionals don't seem to
understand that the purpose of these greetings should be
relevant to the purpose of the occasion, namely, to "celebrate
single life and recognize singles and their contributions to
society." So why create or market a greeting card as a
Singles Week greeting when all it says is "Hey Baby, wanna
In any event,
I put 50 cards in the mail last Thursday, hoping that my single
friends and acquaintances around the country would be pleasantly
surprised by starting off the week with special recognition.
I like the
cards I designed this year and had fun doing it, but next year
I'm hoping that Hallmark will do everyone a favor by creating a
special line of cards for the third week of September.
After all, single people deserve "the very best" too.
Unmarried America 2005
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and