What is World Emoji Day? When is it and what are the most popular emoji?

Emoji have been around for years, but not many people know that the fun icons we love to use as a way to display our each and every mood online have their own international day of celebration.

By Liv McMahon
Friday, 16th July 2021, 10:31 am
What is World Emoji Day? When is it and what are the most popular emoji? (Image: Getty Images)

With more than us than ever using emoji as a quick, funny and simple way of summing up our mood, feelings or thoughts when replying to people on smartphones and posting online, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without them.

Edinburgh’s own brand new St James Quarter development has even been recently criticised as resembling the ‘poop’ emoji by readers and top culture critics alike, with a petition started to put googly eyes on the building gaining almost two thousand signatures.

The cute, small pictographs, once known by the less catchy name of ‘emoticons’, have come a long way since first appearing on the internet as the pixelated colour emoji first created in 1999 by Japanese artist, Shigetaka Kurita.

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These tiny illustrations paved the way for different assortments and versions for years to come, with the emoji we use today enjoyed worldwide thanks to their recognition by Unicode – an international computer encoding standard that assigns letters, digits and symbols a unique numerical code that means they can be enjoyed across different platforms and devices.

By 2015, emoji featured in over half of the comments on Instagram.

But even the most avid emoji users among us are probably unaware that they have their own dedicated day of celebration – with World Emoji Day taking place every July to celebrate the eclectic range of icons worming their way into our messages, tweets, reactions and more all across the planet.

Here’s everything you need to know about World Emoji Day and why it exists.

When is World Emoji Day?

Whereas many days of celebration tend to celebrate the actual day that something was invented or created, emojis are celebrated on July 17 for quite a unique and appropriate reason – it is the only date which has its own emoji.

July 17 is the date identified on the calendar emoji, with World Emoji Day being celebrated on this day every year since it was first founded by Jeremy Burge in 2014.

Ahead of World Emoji Day 2021, Facebook announced that it will be releasing ‘soundmoji’, letting users add sound to emoji when sending them on Facebook Messenger.

The World Emoji Day website states every day sees over 700 million emoji used in Facebook posts and a whopping 900 million emoji sent without text on Facebook messenger.

What are the most popular emoji?

According to Adobe’s 2021 Global Emoji Trend Report released on July 15, which surveyed over 7000 people around the world, the most popular emoji of all time is the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, often used to show laughing out loud.

The crying-laughing face is also the most commonly used emoji on Twitter.

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Adobe’s survey also found that when it comes to the emoji most likely to ‘make or break’ when it comes to dating and flirting online, using the aubergine, peach and zany face emoji could make you less likeable – while the smiling face with hearts, smiling face with heart-eyes and face blowing a kiss emoji appear to make you more likeable.

Almost 90% of respondents to the global survey also agreed that using emoji can make it easier to communicate across global language barriers, with a further 90% saying they make it easier to express themselves online.

At the 2020 World Emoji Awards (yes, there really is a World Emoji Awards), the raised fist symbolising the Black Lives Matter movement was voted by Twitter users as the most 2020 emoji alongside the Microbe emoji used to symbolise the Covid-19 pandemic.

How do new emoji get picked and what new emoji might arrive in 2021?

New updates to the range of emoji enjoyed worldwide on a daily basis are decided by the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, which regularly reviews proposals from the public for new emoji.

They look at whether an image submitted for emoji consideration will work at their tiny scale, how well it expresses whatever symbol, mood or item it is designed to and how likely it is that the emoji will be used by a large amount of people.

New emoji are set to arrive in the next emoji update, Emoji 14.0, which is due to be released on September 14.

While these are still yet to be officially decided, the draft for the next emoji update so far includes: coral (to help spur conversations around climate crisis), a lip-biting emoji, a disco ball, more gender inclusive emoji and a melting face.

Among the 117 new emoji released in 2020 were the transgender flag, smiling face with a single tear, the pinched fingers emoji and animal emojis for seals, otters and beavers.

To see the full line-up for the next emoji update and find out more, visit the Emojipedia website here.

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