Pins and Needles Day is celebrated every year on November 27. The day celebrates a popular musical performed on Broadway between 1937 and 1940. With music composed by Harold Rome, the musical was originally written for members of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, but its entertaining storyline led to a skyrocketing in popularity. The show was based on the lives of young workers during the American labor movement and acted as a parody of prevalent social issues. The show performed 1,018 times and was even presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife at the White House in 1938.
History of Pins and Needles Day
Despite what the name implies, Pins and Needles Day didn’t originate from that odd and tingly feeling you get when your circulation has been cut off. Instead, Pins and Needles Day owes its origins to a Broadway musical composed by Harold Rome and performed for the first time in 1937.
The musical, produced by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and written from a pro-union perspective, was based on the lives of young American workers in New York, who faced the challenge of keeping their jobs during the American labor movement.
Rehearsing only at night and on weekends, the original cast consisted of regular workers, from cutters, to basters, to sewing machine operators. The skits were used to parody the prevailing social and political issues of the time. The name ‘Pins and Needles’ was chosen by Max Danish, an editor of the International Ladies, Garment Workers’ Union newspaper.
What started as a small production soon grew in popularity to the point where the working cast members had to quit their jobs. The musical began showing eight days a week. In 1938, the musical was performed at the White House for President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. The musical was performed 1,018 times and once held the record of being Broadway’s longest-running performance. Harold Rome, the major writer of the musical, studied architecture and law at Yale and was a painter and composer.
Pins and Needles Day timeline
“Pins and Needles” is performed for the first time in New York.
“Pins and Needles” is performed at the White House for President Roosevelt.
After 41 years, “Pins and Needles” is performed again in New York City, running for 225 performances.
“Pins and Needles” is performed in the United Kingdom for the first time.
Pins and Needles Day FAQs
What is the cause of pins and needles?
Pins and needles occur when blood flow to a part of the body is restricted, leading to a tingly sensation in that body part.
What was the purpose of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union?
Founded on June 3, 1900, the union was formed to represent workers in the female garment industry in both the United States and Canada.
Does the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union still exist?
No. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union was dissolved in 1995.
How To Celebrate Pins And Needles Day
Watch a musical
Though you might not have access to “Pins and Needles” itself, celebrate by attending a musical or watching one online. Take a break from regular movies and try theater for a change.
The labor movement is an important part of American history and forms the background of “Pins and Needles.” Learning more about the time period provides rich context to help you better appreciate why the musical was such a hit.
Use the hashtag
Let others know why you’re celebrating. Use the hashtag #pinsandneedlesday to spark conversation about the musical.
5 Important Facts About Harold Rome’s Musicals
“Pins and Needles”
The musical, which was based on the lives of young workers in New York, received unprecedented critical acclaim.
“Call Me Mister”
The revue was first performed in 1946 and was about military troops returning to civilian life.
“Wish You Were Here”
Performed for the first time in 1952, the musical chronicles the romantic relationships that develop in an adult summer camp.
Premiering on Broadway in 1954, the musical was performed 888 times.
“I Can Get It for You Wholesale”
Set in 1937 New York and performed on Broadway in 1962, this musical heralded the debut of Barbra Streisand.
Why We Love Pins And Needles Day
It promotes social change
The musical presented social issues refreshingly and entertainingly. It proved that art is a powerful means of achieving social change.
A celebration of art
The arts are meant to be embraced. Pins and Needles Day gives us a great opportunity to celebrate theater, from movies, to musicals, to plays and revues.
It celebrates ordinary people
“Pins and Needles” proved that seemingly ordinary people can produce spectacular things. Unlike most Broadway productions, the musical wasn’t composed of a star-studded cast but “regular people.”
Pins and Needles Day dates