Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Happy day of deceit!


Happy National Smoke and Mirrors Day!

Wait a second, what the heck is National Smoke and Mirrors Day?

According to National Whatever Day, today’s “holiday” stems from the phrase “smoke and mirrors,” which is a more creative way of identifying and declaring deception. It is celebrated annually on March 29, and is also alternately referred to as The Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day.

In plain language, a University of Massachusetts student may use this phrase when saying something like, “I’m worried the essay questions on the biology midterm might be smoke and mirrors so the professor can trick us by weeding out the non-genius class members.” Here, the expression smoke and mirrors would be correctly used to portray that an essay question for a biology exam must be implanted to deceive students.

Okay, we get the meaning. But where did the phrase smoke and mirrors originate from in the first place?

“This expression alludes to the performances of stage conjurers who use actual smoke and mirrors to deceive the audience,” according to The Phrase Finder. National Whatever Day further explained this, stating that magicians made “objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a confusing burst of smoke.”

Over time, this act became symbolic for anything purposely fraudulent that fooled audiences or the public.

The phrase was later being used to describe trickery within politics, starting somewhere in the mid 1970s. According to The Phrase Finder, writer Jimmy Breslin was one of the first journalists to incorporate “smoke and mirrors” into writing as a metaphor for deceit within politics.

Now that background information has been revealed on this strange expression, many may be left wondering: does anyone actually celebrate this alleged “festival?”

Holiday Insights writes of the event, “We did not discover an actual festival of this nature.” So since there are no real events to attend to celebrate Smoke and Mirrors Day, blogger Bendo13 of Hub Pages suggests watching DVDs of famous magicians such as Harry Houdini, David Blaine and Siegfried & Roy. If fiction is more your forte, Bendo13 recommends viewing feature length films like “The Prestige” or “The Illusionist,” which feature myriads of smoke and mirrors.

Bendo13’s blog page,, consists of one new blog post each day explaining that day’s “holiday.” He also updates his Youtube channel, CeleGREAT, with a video celebrating that particular day. In his National Smoke and Mirrors Day video, Bendo13 levitated a match and an elastic band.

Every day of the year is a celebration of something, whether it is as significant as International Women’s Day (March 8) or as miniscule as National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2). Some days celebrate household objects, such as Rubber Eraser Day on April 15 and Teddy Bear Day on September 9.

Some of the more unique days include Be Bald and Free Day on October 14, Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes It Day on January 2 and Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbors Porch Night on August 8. To see what celebration is being held each day, go to

Hallmark Channel’s The Ultimate Holiday Site questions the legitimacy of National Smoke and Mirrors Day, saying it “doesn’t really exist. It’s all an illusion.” Hallmark further confuses readers by calling National Smoke and Mirrors Day itself “just smoke and mirrors.” So smoke and mirrors is just smoke and mirrors? That’s logical.

With your newfound awareness of National Smoke and Mirrors Day and knowledge of the history behind the phrase, you should be able to celebrate today with the likes of Lance Burton and David Copperfield. That is, if today isn’t just an illusion.

Kate Evans can be reached at [email protected].


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