We already have the usual Mother's Day (March 21), Father's Day (third Sunday of June), Valentine's Day (February 14), in addition to the more serious World No Smoking Day (May 31) and World Aids Day (December 1).

Of late however, advertisements of newly invented "observance" days stare us in the face as we watch TV, surf the web, or even try to relax on a quiet Friday afternoon to catch our favourite song on the radio.

Advertising gimmick

The list of forced additions to our calendar includes Administrative Professionals' Day (April 26), Nurses Day (May 6), Receptionist Day (May 10), Ice Cream Day (July 16), and the Sweetest Day (October 21).

Parents' Day is celebrated today. Is this yet another advertising gimmick invented by some clever executive sitting in the confines of his cubicle in a greeting card company or is it actually being observed here in the UAE?

To find out, I spoke to an executive from a greeting card company and two families.

International celebration?

Parents' Day originated in the US, and came into existence by a 1994 US Congressional resolution signed into law by then US president Bill Clinton.

Even as most Americans today remain clueless about the day, it is observed in many churches, non-governmental organisations and government bodies.

Some towns in the US are known to organise "Parents of the Year" contests in an effort to popularise the day.

Numerous websites today offer creative gift ideas for children to give their parents: from candle rocks and Hawaiian shirts, to pearl necklaces.

Other websites encourage schools to foster discussion amongst students about parents, and to organise plays, poetry contests, and lunch gatherings on the day.

No special day

In South Korea, Parents' Day is observed on May 8. Traditionally South Koreans marked the day by visiting relatives.

Children usually observe the day by pinning a carnation onto their clothes as a mark of respect for their parents.

With countries as far apart as South Korea and the United States observing Parents' Day, Dubai surely can't be far behind.

Manoj Rani, Operations Manager at Carlton Cards indicated otherwise. "There isn't really any special observance for Parents' Day in any of our stores. There is no demand for it. That being said, we have gifts and cards, which people usually buy for Mother's Day and Father's Day. Perhaps those who decide to observe Parents' Day can buy these gifts," says Rani.

Save for South Korea and the United States then, Parents' Day doesn't really hold much promise to foster celebratory commemorations anywhere else in the world.

Even so, love does not need any particular day to express itself.

Did you know?

Botox treatments, face-lifts and hair transplants are the most popular gift ideas for Parents' Day in South Korea.

The Gupta Family

Suresh Pal Gupta (managing director of a business conglomerate):
"I believe that children should look after their parents. Children should, of course, celebrate Parents' Day if indeed such a day exists. I will expect an affectionate greeting today from my son."

Madhu Gupta (housewife):
"Children anyway do a lot for their parents on Mother's Day and Father's Day. For Parents' Day, anything would be nice. Parents' Day is a good way to remind children about caring for their parents."

Navish Gupta (business executive in a metal trading firm):
"You don't really need a special day to show love for your parents or to tell them that they are the best. Maybe in the United States where children move out of their parents' homes and study and work elsewhere, observing such a day has its merits. What am I doing this Parents' Day? Well it's my dad's birthday on July 20, so I am taking him and my mum to Buddha Bar in the evening. I guess we'll have a joint birthday and Parents' Day celebration!"

The Das Family

P.B. Das (head of financial and corporate institutions at a local bank):
"Parents' Day is observed everyday in my house. People who need to observe the day probably don't have the time to interact with their parents. Given Dubai's cultural milieu, we don't really need to commemorate a particular day as Parents' Day. I am not against it as such, but I feel that love for parents shouldn't be restricted to a particular day. If Parents' Day catches on in our city, I will be more than happy to see my children celebrate it."

Raji Das (housewife):
"I didn't know about Parents' Day. Quite frankly, you can observe any day as Parents' Day. Parents mostly need love and good wishes from their children. Nowadays children take their parents for granted. Children need to be more affectionate towards their parents. Give your parents love, respect and affection. Do something for your parents. Give them a hug and say "I love you" once in a while. Take them for a walk, or for a movie. Love for your parents should be a state of mind."

Anupama Das (events management executive):
"I've known that Parents' Day existed, but didn't know when exactly it was observed. I'm not a very demonstrative person, and won't buy something to show my love. In any case, you can buy cards and gifts for just about any occasion. Every relationship has become much too hyped and commercialised. I can express my love in far more subtle ways and everyday rather than on a particular day."