National Punctuation Day
There is a holiday on almost every day of the year: Fruitcake Toss Day (January 3rd), the day everyone throws away the old leftovers from the holiday season; Tap Dance Day (May 25th), the birthday of tap legend Bill Robinson; and International Panic Day (June 18th), a day devoted to all the worry-warts of the nation. Among these is National Punctuation Day (September 24th).
Not many people have heard about National Punctuation Day because there are too few people that care about grammar. Most people who are avid readers have had the experience of reading something full of mistakes, and maybe it drove them as mad as it drove Rubin. Founder Jeff Rubin started sitting down with his newspaper and a red pen and circling all the mistakes he found. "It got to the point where it looked like I had popped a vein and had bled all over the newspaper," he said. He explained that it frustrated him to a point where his wife told him he had to channel his anger into something else, so in 2004 he created a holiday called National Punctuation Day.
The week before and of the 24th, Rubin can be heard on radio and TV doing interviews across the nation and in 2006, Rubin and his wife, Norma Martinez-Rubin, premiered Punctuation Playtime, which is exactly what it sounds like. Rubin and his wife host school assemblies in which they bring awareness to punctuation and grammar through a playful program with a lot of running around and screaming. Their program forces the children to interact and learn about proper grammar while having fun. They have traveled across the nation to bring this program to other states, and the media coverage has been worldwide. In a Los Angeles mall, an artist created a Punctuation Station that included large punctuation marks that kids could climb and play on. For three days, Mr. and Mrs. Rubin performed their program at this site for whoever happened to pass by from 9am to 4pm.
Jeff Rubin is afraid that everyone who cared about spelling and grammar "are either dead or dying off." We're living in a generation that doesn't care about the way they spell when they're posting a status on Facebook or the way they talk when they're around not only their friends, but in the business world as well. By just creating this holiday Rubin has brought awareness to teachers who now celebrate the day in the classroom by creating their own punctuation games that they post on Jeff Rubin's website, www.NationalPunctuationDay.com. The program has also brought media attention to this growing problem; now, many people worldwide are aware of the mistakes made on billboards and store signs alike.
Talking and writing are important means of communication and having proper grammar ensures you're being understood. Something that began so small, like having one day out of the whole year dedicated to grammar, has turned into something that is bringing awareness to the way we communicate. Jeff Rubin says that he's not going to change the world, but by bringing awareness to this communication problem, I think he just might.
Published in Contra Costa Marketplace Magazine (edited)