National Thumbs Up Day

A diverse group of people, of different ages and backgrounds, giving enthusiastic thumbs up gestures in various settings. .
National thumbs up day illustration

Ever wondered why everybody on the internet seems inexplicably chirpy on a day in January, randomly throwing thumbs up emojis everywhere? Well, article-detective at your service! It's due to National Thumbs Up Day, which, not going to lie, seems like the best excuse for some positive digit action. It's a day we all give a big old thumb's up to one another, and spread just a smidge more cheer in the world.

When is Thumbs Up Day?

It's national thumbs up day on the 16th January.

The History of National Thumbs Up Day

It seems that folks on the internet got a real kick out of throwing their thumbs up on January 16th, 2016 with our research identifying a whopping 9 mentions across the web! It's still a mystery who gave the first 'all clear, good job' online thumbs up that day, but we can all agree it started something wonderful. Since then, National Thumbs Up Day has spread across social media platforms like a positive plague that nobody wants a cure for.

How to Celebrate

Consider transforming digital thumbs up into the real deal. That's right, take this special occasion as an opportunity to reinforce positive face-to-face interactions. Give someone a physical thumbs up, accompanied by a bright smile of course! (Wearing gloves if necessary for the chilly January weather.) From giving a thumbs up to the bus driver as thanks for a smooth ride to acknowledging the barista making your favourite cup of joe, we promise it'll turn your ordinary experiences extraordinary. Embracing the real-life thumbs-up is just next level!

Spreading Positivity Online

Don't forget to perpetuate positivity online. The likes, loves, and cares emojis tend to dominate our day-to-day digital expressions, but the humble thumbs up signifies a timeless classic that we can all get behind on this day. Share a thumbs-up selfie on your timeline or just spam the emoji in your group chats, let's turn the internet into a thumbs up utopia!

History behind the term 'Thumbs Up'


The Silent Film Era

During the silent film era, and specifically in 1920, the thumbs up gesture became associated with conveying a positive or approval message. In film production, a director would often use this gesture to signal to the actors that they had done a good job. It quickly gained popularity, translating the universal language of visual communication.


The Birth of the Thumbs Up in Popular Culture

In 1923, the thumbs up gesture made its first major appearance in popular culture. Italian silent film director, Emilio Ghione, included the gesture in his film 'Three Minutes of Love.' The film depicted a character giving a thumbs up to show his approval, increasing the recognition of the gesture as a positive sign of approval.


Thumbs Up Symbol in World War II

During World War II in 1941, the thumbs up symbol took on new cultural significance. American pilots used the gesture to communicate with ground crews before takeoff, indicating that everything was working fine. This practice quickly spread among the allied forces and became a symbol of reassurance and camaraderie.


Apollo 11 Moon Landing

The thumbs up sign gained further prominence during the historic Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was photographed giving a thumbs up gesture while standing on the lunar surface. This powerful image captured the excitement and success of the mission, solidifying the thumbs up as a symbol of achievement and victory.


Thumbs Up Emoji

In 1986, the thumbs up gesture made its digital debut with the release of the first emoticons. Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, proposed using :-) to indicate a joke and :-( to indicate seriousness. Shortly after, the thumbs up emoji, 👍, was introduced, allowing people to express approval and positivity in the digital realm.

Did you know?

Did you know, in ancient Rome, thumbs up didn't mean what it does today? It actually signalled the death of a defeated gladiator, decided by the crowd or the Emperor! Thankfully, our generation has given it a much brighter and happier meaning.


awareness fun social media positivity emoji interaction

First identified

16th January 2016

Most mentioned on

16th January 2016

Total mentions


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