Every year in April we have an Earth Day – a day in which we are reminded that the environment is something we should be focusing more of our attention on. This year, the 2020 Earth Day is also the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It always comes on the 22nd of April, but is there a reason for that date? Or is it simply a coincidence?
As it turns out, there is a history behind it. The inauguration of Earth Day was first brought about in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson and San Francisco activist John McConnell. They agreed that in order for it to be impactful, the date of observance had to allow activists in college to be able to take part in the observances – something brought to their attention by organizer Denis Hayes. As it so happened, the 22nd of April was right between spring break and final exams throughout most colleges, therefore it was perfect.
Even though the call was pretty much based on practicality and logistics, the date of April 22nd still holds a bit of a deeper meaning. As it turned out, Earth Day was partially inspired by Arbor Day – an event organized by Nebraska native Julius Sterling Morton in 1872 in order to plant trees. It so happened that Arbor Day was meant to fall on April 10th. However, after Nebraska declared Arbor Day a legal holiday, the state made a motion to honor Morton by changing the date to his birthday: the 22nd of April.
While McConnell would’ve preferred Earth Day to fall on the Spring Equinox – a perfect representation as the day also marks seasonal change and balance between daylight and darkness. However, since the 22nd was when all the college kids could participate and be active, that is the date that stuck.
However, since its founding, Earth Day has changed since its first one in 1970, which was full of demonstrations and protests.
Today in our modern times, the 2020 one is a virtual Climate Action-themed celebration. The whole world recognizes Earth Day, however, outside of the United States the day is known as International Mother Earth Day.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.