Purple Day is a grassroots celebration that is aimed at raising worldwide awareness of epilepsy, a condition that affects over 65 million people globally. As a neurological condition that causes seizures and often begins in childhood, epilepsy is sometimes misunderstood which can lead to difficulty in social situations. The idea of Purple Day is to provide education to those who don’t understand the condition, as well as for those who have epilepsy to recognize that they are not alone.
Because lavender is the international colour for epilepsy and is also a colour that symbolises solitude, it only made sense that purple would be the colour of choice for this important day of recognition and awareness!
History of Purple Day
Cassidy Megan, a nine-year-old from Canada, founded Purple Day in 2008 when she was motivated by her own struggle with epilepsy. Cassidy’s efforts were supported by the Epilepsy Association of The Maritimes (EAM) of Canada, as well as the Anita Kaufmann Foundation of New York, and the day eventually became an international event.
In fact, Purple Day’s popularity grew quickly! The celebration in 2009, the second year of its existence, brought at least 100,00 students, 95 workplaces, and 116 politicians out to participate in the day’s festivities.
From there the day simply kept growing. It’s hard to believe that only 10 years later, in 2019, Purple Day had made its way to Disney World! Sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Central Florida, Purple Day shared the magic with many participants. The day’s founder, Cassidy Megan, made a special appearance (wearing a purple evening gown, of course) and became good friends with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Now, Purple Day is celebrated on every continent and in over 100 countries, in places such as India, Australia, South Africa, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of notable importance, however, is the fact that the only nation whose government officially recognizes this day currently is Canada, which was put into effect with the Purple Day Act on June 28, 2012.
How to Celebrate Purple Day
Celebrating this day is not only fun, but is also important in raising awareness for this challenging neurological disorder. Try out these ideas or be creative with others ideas to help the cause:
Obviously, one of the easiest things to do to honor the celebration of Purple Day is to pull something purple out of the closet and put it on. A purple shirt, dress, pants or hat will certainly do the trick. Or try dressing in purple from head to toe!
Consider stepping outside the box with purple eyeshadow, purple face glitter or purple lipstick. For those who are more committed to the cause, purple hair dye could make a huge impact.
People who would like to celebrate by wearing an official purple t-shirt for the day, can access a Purple Day t-shirt on the official website.
Organize a Purple Day Event
Host a special coffee morning, organize a quiz night or hold a murder mystery evening in support of Purple Day. (These can all be done in person or virtually.) The Epilepsy Society of the UK offers easy-to-use resources for gathering friends, family, and coworkers for an awareness event.
For more creative ideas, consider what people have done in the past in support of Purple Day. Some have raised funds for the charity by dying their hair purple, shaving their head completely, scaling 1000 flights of steps or giving up something they love for the month. Others have organized a fun run, walk, or cycle (26 miles is perfect on the 26th!) to raise awareness for those who live with epilepsy.
Alternatively, dress in purple and hold a purple-themed fund-raising event in aid of either EANS, The Anita Kaufman Foundation or any other charity supporting epilepsy awareness.
Learn about Epilepsy
Head over to the local library to check out some books that will provide interesting, educational information about the condition of epilepsy. The internet also offers a significant number of resources provided to raise awareness about this condition.
Even just reading through Cassidy Megan’s story can help folks become better aware and more understanding about the challenges and victories that are involved with this condition. Anything that can be done to learn more about epilepsy and tell others about Purple Day is a great way to honor this day.
Be Creative with Purple
It’s never too early to start sharing with children about epilepsy–especially if someone they know might be dealing with its effects. For families or school teachers, Purple Day is an ideal time to have kids wear purple.
But, more than that, it’s a good chance to dip into fun activities that give opportunities to share what the day is all about. Try these crafts and activities on for size:
- In art class, explore the wide variety of shades of purple by creating basic geometric shapes and then mixing purple paint with whites and blacks.
- For a less messy version, pull out all of the purple shades of construction paper and let the kids use their safety scissors to cut out shapes and combine them into art.
- Create a purple-fizz volcano science experiment by using baking soda and white vinegar as well as food coloring in red and blue. Of course, it should probably be attempted outside or in an area that allows for easy clean up!
Have a Purple-Themed Dinner
Purple foods can be hard to come by, but it’s possible to have a nutritious meal with (mostly) the color purple. Not only are they fun to look at, but purple foods are packed full of nutritional value!
What’s on the menu for Purple Day? Well, eggplant might be the obvious choice for the main dish, while purple sweet potatoes or purple carrots might be another option (albeit a bit exotic and maybe harder to find). Try a purple cabbage slaw or purple kale (also called redbor) salad. Then round things out by serving a purple fruit salad using blackberries, purple grapes, blueberries, and purple acai berries.
For those who aren’t cooking an entire meal, purple yogurt (colored with berries) could be a fun snack. For beverages, consider options such as grape juice, grape KoolAid, or grape Fanta soda.
Become a Purple Ambassador
Anybody interested in raising awareness for epilepsy and supporting Purple Day can become an ‘Ambassador of Purple’. This role involves wearing purple and spreading awareness of epilepsy in the local community and to friends and family.
Purple Day Guiness Book of World Records
In 2017, Anita Kauffman, one of the original supporters of the day, initiated the setting of a Guinness World Record for the largest ever epilepsy training session. The event was combined with the Purple Day Walk and occurred at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA.