Earth Day is an annual environmental event during which people celebrate the Earth's natural environment and promote environmentally healthy practices. Many cities around the world hold Earth Day celebrations which may include sustainable living fairs, prominent speakers, music, dancing, food, and parades, among other things. In some countries, prominent politicians make an annual Earth Day address or announcement to talk about environmental issues and to celebrate gains in environmental sustainability.
There is some dispute as to when, exactly, Earth Day is. Many people celebrate Earth Day on 22 April, in a nod to the late 1960s origins of Earth Day, when activists organized the event on 22 April. Others celebrate it on the spring equinox, which means that Earth Day falls on different days in the Northern and Southern hemisphere. Celebrants who favor the equinox point out that spring is traditionally greeted with excitement by people all over the world, making the first day of spring a great time to celebrate the Earth.
Early Earth Day celebrations were used to highlight growing environmental problems and to propose ways of tackling these problems. Issues like industrial pollution and resource-hogging technology were brought up on Earth Day, along with over-harvesting of natural resources and practices which harm the Earth, like strip mining. As humans have recognized more and more environmental problems, ranging from global warming to a growing number of threatened or extinct species, the scope of the issues which come up on Earth Day has expanded.
Originally, Earth Day was accompanied with teach-ins and other events which were designed to draw attention to planetary issues. Modern Earth Day celebrations often focus on the positive, celebrating progress which has been made in the quest to protect the Earth, and offering education about living in a sustainable way. Earth Day festivals often feature sources of alternative energy, organic farmers, and locally produced products, to get people to connect with the Earth and their communities.
As Earth Day has become more well known, more and more nations and companies have begun actively participating in the event. It is not uncommon to see companies releasing information about major environmentally friendly breakthroughs on Earth Day, for example, and for nations to pick Earth Day as a target date for emissions reductions and other environmentally friendly measures. The day also provides an excellent rallying point for environmental activists.