Where Do All These Weird Holidays Come From, Anyway?

Monday, Jun 25, 2018

Today is National Catfish Day, and it has nothing to do with MTV. Before Internet dating scams, there were fish.

National Catfish Day was signed on as a commemorative holiday by Ronald Reagan in 1987. It’s not as famous as National Ice Cream Day, Reagan’s 1984 salvo, or as old as the illustrious National Walnut Day, signed in by President Eisenhower in 1958. But it proved important for the catfishing industry.

National Catfish Day is the brainchild of Mike Espy, who in 1986 became the first African American congressman elected in Mississippi since Reconstruction. He had recognized catfish as an emerging crop in his state, and decided to create a commemorative bill, a one day “holiday” of sorts, in an attempt to make more people hungry for the defiantly un-handsome fish.

It was Epsy’s first bill proposed upon taking office in 1987. It didn’t go well.

“I thought it was gonna be automatic,” Espy told Observer. “This is something that every member of Congress is allowed to do, but I was not, because they thought it was silly.”