World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday of October each year. This year, it falls on October 6. Smiling and laughing improves one's overall health and boosts the immune system. It increases feelings of positivity, gratitude and friendliness among people.
The day was started by an American graphic artist 'Harvey Ball' from Worcester, Massachusetts. He created the first-ever smiley emoji in 1963 for a client of his advertising agency. It was for an insurance company as the company wanted to create an image to boost the morale of its employees.
The smiley emoji is the one with a smile on a yellow face. It expresses emotions like happiness, positivity, pleasure, and friendliness.
Ball soon realised that the smiley emoji was getting commercialized which would lessen the meaning of the actual thought behind the emoji, the symbol of smiling. So, the artist decided to dedicate a day to smiling. Hence World Smile Day came into existence in 1999 on the first Friday of October every year.
The symbol is widely used to date in key chains, balls, clothing, comic books, coffee mugs, diaries, crockeries and more.
A foundation was created in 2001 in memory of Harvey Ball after his death known as 'Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation'. The foundation raises money for small, grassroots charities that would otherwise receive little attention or funding.
The theme for World Smile Day every year is "Take the World Smile Day Challenge. Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile." The day is observed to encourage people to do acts of kindness and make others happy.
The theme for World Smile Day 2023 is "Radiate Joy.” The theme emphasises spreading happiness through smiles.