What is Purple Day? Date of the global epilepsy awareness day and how to get involved

Last year, people in more than 85 countries across the globe participated in Purple Day

Purple Day is an annual event which aims to raise awareness of epilepsy and create conversations around the condition.

But when does Purple Day take place and how can people get involved? Here’s what you need to know.

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What is Purple Day?

Purple Day is an annual event which aims to raise awareness of epilepsy and create conversations around the condition (Photo: Shutterstock)

Purple Day takes place globally on 26 March every year. Thousands of people across the world take part in the day, which aims to “start conversations around epilepsy, raise awareness of the condition and fundraise to make a difference to the lives of people affected by epilepsy” according to the Epilepsy Society.

​Purple day was first created in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a young girl from Canada who has epilepsy and wanted to open the conversation about the condition.

Cassidy decided to use the colour purple due to lavender being recognised as the international flower of epilepsy.

Last year, people in more than 85 countries across the globe participated in Purple Day, but currently, Canada is the only country in the world who officially recognises 26 March as Purple Day, with the Purple Day Act implemented in the country on 28 June 28 2012.

Purple Day takes place globally on 26 March every year (Photo: Shutterstock)

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes frequent seizures. Seizures are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works and they can cause a wide range of symptoms, including uncontrollable jerking and shaking, losing awareness and staring blankly into space and becoming stiff.

Epilepsy can start at any age, but according to the NHS, it usually starts either in childhood or in people over 60. It's often a lifelong condition, but it can sometimes get slowly better over time.

However, there are numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding epilepsy, including the thought that someone can swallow their tongue during a seizure, something which Montreal’s Children’s Hospital says is “physically impossible”.

The Epilepsy Foundation also reiterates that a person is not able to swallow their tongue and that you should not put something in the mouth of someone having a seizure as “the person is unable to control their muscle movements during a seizure and they may bite down on the object and break their teeth, or injure their mouth/jaw.”

You should also not restrain someone having a seizure, as “a seizure will run its course and restraining someone will not stop or slow it down,” the Epilepsy Foundation adds.

How can I get involved in Purple Day?

On 26 March, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.

The Epilepsy Society posted on Twitter: “It's #PurpleDay! Thank you to all of the #epilepsy heroes joining us in marking today, whether it's through fundraising or having a conversation with a friend.”

You can also get involved by making a donation or becoming a Purple Day Ambassador.

Buildings and historic landmarks across the globe will also be lit up in purple in order to celebrate Purple Day and raise awareness about epilepsy.

Epilepsy Scotland said that 34 buildings and landmarks across Scotland will be lit up purple on the evening of 26 March in order to help raise awareness of epilepsy.

Locations that will be lit up include Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Edinburgh Castle, Ness Bridge and Perth Theatre.

You can email your pictures to [email protected] or send a direct message through their Twitter page.