World Emoji Day 2020

July 17 is celebrated as World Emoji Day, an unofficial holiday.

Emojis, symbols of the visual language, have become a part of our everyday life. They were designed with the intention of adding emotions to the digital language. Peeking out from smartphone screens, they are now on clothing, shoes, arts, cakes, gift items, plush toys, and in many more forms.

Who created Emojis?

Emojis were first created by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita.  He worked with Japan’s main mobile carrier DOCOMO, on the development team for “i-mode,” an early mobile internet platform with the goal of finding new ways to express information. Emojis weren’t 3D in the initial days as we see them now. Kurita sketched emojis as a set of images that can be sent on mobiles and pages as individual characters within the i-mode interface, which implies that they were not international.


Computers basically work with numbers. Each character and symbol we type and all other keys on the keyboard are associated with a unique standard code in order to provide integrity of information across all devices and platforms. Digital devices decode the electrical signals of keypress as numbers and then convey the corresponding symbol on the screen. The most commonly used standard for this process is UNICODE.

Google and Apple made proposals to bring this Japanese ascent of emojis into the Unicode standardization to make them accessible everywhere. Unicode accepted the proposal in 2010 and since then emojis started coming around the digital world globally. There are new emojis adding to the list every year.

Original emojis created in 1999

(C) NTT DOCOMO, INC.; Image Source: Wired

Kurita’s original 176 emoji, those that were introduced before the standardization process, is now part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Why is Emoji Day celebrated?

Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia, created the World Emoji Day in 2014. July 17 was dedicated then because Apple used the date in its calendar emoji, to commemorate the birth of iCal, the personal calendar app in Apple devices. The day started gaining popularity with the increased use of emojis on Twitter, with the hashtag #WordEmojiDay.

July 17 - calendar emoji

Image Source: Pinterest

Major platforms previously used a variety of dates on this calendar, but have changed in recent years to also show July 17, to avoid confusion on World Emoji Day. However, there are still many other platforms that have their own dates for the calendar emoji.

July 17 emoji on various platforms

Calendar Emoji on Various Platforms; Image Source: Emojipedia

How is the day celebrated?

➟ 117 new emojis have been approved this year, and we can find them all on our devices by the end of this year.

New emojis for 2020

New emojis for 2020; Image Source: Emojipedia

➟ Many companies like Apple, Twitter, and Google, release the new emojis for their platform on this day.

➟ You can vote for emojis in the following categories at World Emoji Awards. Voting is still open, at the time of publishing this post.

  • Most anticipated emoji – nominees being approved emojis in 2020
  • Most 2020 emoji – the one that best represents the year 2020 so far
Most 2020 Emoji - Emoji Awards

Most 2020 Emoji – Emoji Awards; Image Source: Emojipedia

The Most Popular New Emoji Award is given to an emoji that was introduced in the past year. The winner for 2020 is yet to be declared.

➟ Post on social media with the hashtag #worldemojiday.


I’ll update this article later with the winners of the emoji awards.

Growing Significance

Emojis evolve signifying social developments and raising their voice for social issues.

➟ Genderless emojis

There are new emojis for people to widely accept men-with-makeup, paternal infant care, women working in various fields that were doomed to be for males.


‘Raised fist with dark skin tone’ emoji gained popularity to voice for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, emulating the historic gesture of support and solidarity.

'Raised fist with dark skin tone' emoji

‘Raised fist with dark skin tone’ emoji; Image Source: Emojipedia


#WorldRefugeeDay hashtags flooded Twitter on 23rd June this year associated with the newly created emoji.

'Have a Heart' emoji for refugees;

‘Have a Heart’ emoji for refugees; Image Source: UNHCR

The emoji consists of two different coloured hands linked together to form a heart, symbolizing solidarity and diversity, indicating that people everywhere will ‘have a heart’ for refugees. You can follow the links in the references to read more about the emoji and its creator ‘O’Plérou’ listed in the “Forbes Africa’s list of young talents under 30”.


To emphasize the lockdown period due to the virus spread, there has been a new range of emojis like a microbe, face with a medical mask, and face with a head bandage.

Lockdown emojis

Lockdown emojis; Image Source: Emojipedia

Final thoughts

Recently, a sentiment analysis performed by Emojipedia on Twitter this year has found that positive emoji use is on the decline, after analyzing 68 million unique tweets. This indicates that most people across the world are struggling to establish happiness in their minds in these tough times.

Let’s throw some light into the lives of those around us as much as possible, and make this day and every day more meaningful.

Have fun voting for the emojis!



50 thoughts on “World Emoji Day 2020

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