The man who started it all.
If you’ve ever seen the hashtag #EdBallsDay trending, you may be wondering what it all means.
Who is this famous man, you may be asking, and what exactly did he do to get an entire day named after him?
Well, let’s start with the basics.
Who is Ed Balls?
Image: Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock
Here’s a picture of Ed Balls pointing at something.
Pretty much everyone in Britain will recognise the name Ed Balls, but if you’re based elsewhere you may not have heard of him.
In a nutshell, Balls is a British politician who was a Labour MP for 10 years. He also served as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2011-2015, before he lost his seat in the last general election.
Like most politicians you wouldn’t exactly have called him a popular figure during his time in Parliament, but since he’s left politics things have changed.
In 2016 he starred in the BBC’s much-loved dance show Strictly Come Dancing, which led to many, many moments like this:
Since then, Balls’ popularity has basically skyrocketed.
That’s great, but why is there an #EdBallsDay?
It all started with what may be one of the greatest tweets from any politician (or, indeed, anyone), ever:
On the now-legendary day of 28 April 2011, Ed Balls tweeted his own name. Apparently he was busy shopping in ASDA at the time and wanted to run a search on himself. Clearly he mistook the "Tweet" box for the search bar.
Although Balls couldn’t have predicted it back then, it was a moment destined to send ripples across the internet and eventually become one of British Twitter’s favourite in-jokes.
The evolution of "Ed Balls Day"
Although the original tweet generated a bunch of retweets, memes and jokes at the time, the tradition of "Ed Balls Day" didn’t get properly started until 2013.
In the run-up to the tweet’s two-year anniversary, a Facebook event encouraging people to retweet the original received the support of thousands.
The rest is pretty much history. A Google News Archive Search of April 2013 shows just how many mentions of "Ed Balls Day" there were that year:
April 2013 articles about Ed Balls Day.
In the years since, the whole thing has absolutely snowballed.
Politicians have tweeted about it:
Brands have joined in:
Now, each year, 28 April is celebrated across Twitter with a variety of artwork, photoshops and memes:
So what does Ed Balls think about all this?
Since 2013, Balls has marked every single Ed Balls Day anniversary with a tweet. You can pretty much chart his journey from confusion, through to acceptance, and then finally on to what is clearly a barely-concealed love of the tradition:
Here’s to Ed Balls Day 2017, and the many glorious Ed Balls Days that will surely follow.
The internet is a strange, wonderful place.