When Is Celiac Disease Awareness Month?

We Usually Celebrate It In May, But October Events Also Occur

When exactly do we celebrate Celiac Disease Awareness Month?. Getty Images/Peter Denton

I believe we should push for awareness of celiac disease for the entire year (and my actions back up my words). But we celebrate the "official" Celiac Disease Awareness Month in May in the U.S. and various other countries.

It wasn't always this way ... in fact, several years ago, there were "celiac awareness" events and specials advertised in October, even though we'd just celebrated it in May.

Since I doubted we'd get two official awareness months a year (much as I might think they're warranted!), I decided some more investigating was in order — after all, we needed to figure out just when exactly we should be baking our gluten-free cakes.

Mary Schluckebier of the Celiac Sprue Association set me straight on what she admitted was a fairly confusing series of events.

Apparently, Congress never has approved a resolution naming either May or October the official month for celiac disease awareness. Between 1987 and 2008, Canada named October its official Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and private groups in the U.S. simply tagged along.

In 2009, however, Canada moved Celiac Disease Awareness Month to May in order to conform with official celiac awareness month designations in Italy and other European countries. Some private celiac groups followed suit. But since Congress hasn't set official U.S. policy for celebrating celiac awareness month, other groups stuck with October for their celiac awareness activities.

This gradually changed, and these days, all the major celiac organizations (plus food product manufacturers and restaurants who target the gluten-free market) celebrate celiac awareness month in May.

Therefore, May is when you should look for specials and coupons on gluten-free coupons ... and when you might want to promote awareness of celiac disease symptoms to your friends and families (just don't be too strident about it, please).

Many manufacturers offer special deals on gluten-free products each year during May (check their websites beginning late in April to find out exactly what those deals will entail), and celiac associations often promote awareness with public relations campaigns urging people at risk to get tested.

Meanwhile, just to confuse things more, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously in August 2010 to name Sept. 13, 2010 as National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. Several U.S. House members did introduce legislation to designate May 2013 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month, but that bill failed to go anywhere.

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