That Event Is About What?
Intriguing upcoming events that are not what you think they are.
This issue's theme is upcoming events that appear to be one thing, based upon their title but are actually something entirely different. The events highlighted occur between now and the end of the year, and cover topics you wouldn't guess from the titles. Researching them was a blast, and with the exception of White Balloon Day, they each provide plenty of information for small talk conversations in public. They're whimsical, or interesting. Several events borrow from Christian folklore and superstition, a few apply to science and math, and two directly to the legal industry. This is a fun issue. I hope you enjoy it!
Header Image: I couldn't find a picture that described the vibe of this issue, so I used one of my favorite apps, Wombo, to create an AI-generated modern art impression of the theme for this issue: mystery, questions, and celebrations. Some people play video games to unwind. I draw and paint. This little app lets me do so on my phone quickly, without the mess of acrylics, oils, watercolors, or charcoal.
Okay, let's dive in with one of the stranger but critical events, an anniversary, International Beheading Day.
INTERNATIONAL BEHEADING DAY
Date: September 2, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
When I first found this date, I thought it had to do with gardening. Deadheading or beheading flowers (chopping off dead blossoms) is one of my favorite gardening activities and a great release for any anger or frustration.
After ten hours of research, I discovered that Beheading Day has nothing to do with gardening. Instead, this event is about jurisprudence and conflict of interest, something that as an American, is lately on my mind.
International Beheading Day marks the anniversary of the execution of Lady Alice Lisle on September 2, 1685, at the age of 63.
Lady Lisle was part of the English gentry, and her crime was treason. She was found guilty of harboring John Hickes in her residence. Hickes was a preacher and non-conformist (at the time a severe crime) who participated in the Monmouth Rebellion against the king at the Battle of Sedgemoor.
At her trial, Lady Lisle insisted she did not know that he was a wanted man and was offering shelter. Despite not knowing she was breaking the law, The Crown declared her guilty of treason, and her sentence was death.
What makes Lady Lisle's execution unusual is motive. Evidence later revealed it was a revenge killing, a judicial murder ordered by Judge Jeffreys. The judge was engaged in several disagreements with Lady and Lord Lisle, and presiding over her trial, and passing her sentence, allowed him to settle a score.
Today we refer to this as judicial misconduct and, depending upon circumstances, murder.
The trial and beheading of Lady Lisle initiated reforms in England promoting the recusing of judges, litigators, government officials, and barristers involved in a trial where bias, personal gain, or affiliation could hamper their ability to uphold the law or serve impartially.
Parliament issued Lady Lisle a posthumous pardon due to "the menaces and violence and other illegal practices" of Judge Jeffreys.
The last beheading in England occurred in 1747.
YELLOW PIGS DAY
Date: July 17, 2022
Champion: Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics
Rest easy. This event has nothing to do with food and is kosher, halal, vegetarian, and vegan friendly. This little piggy does mathematics.
Yellow Pigs Day is an annual celebration associated primarily with the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics. The program is a summer math camp for high school students from all over the world who love math and want to learn more in a less austere and calculated manner. Their "secret symbol" the yellow pig with the number 17 printed on it, goes back to the 1970s. Not only is Yellow Pigs Day an excuse to bring together alumni, but it is also a celebration of the number 17. Why yellow pigs? That isn't explained. However, everything on campus and in the classroom has to do with the prime number 17, and yellow pigs are everywhere.
Yellow Pigs Day is celebrated worldwide and now includes its own songs, traditions and general clowning around that has been adopted by programs including Mathcamp, PROMYS, MIT, the University of Chicago, and even Stanford.
This article from the February 5, 1982, Harvard Crimson details the event: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1982/2/5/hamming-it-up-at-hampshire-pisaturday/
GRAHAM CRACKER DAY
Date: July 5, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
In the vein of unusual and not what you expect is Graham Cracker Day marking the anniversary of the birth of its inventor, Minister Sylvester Graham, on July 5, 1794. Graham crackers arrived early in the 19th century, and they aimed to promote a vegetarian lifestyle free of sin and combat masturbation.
Yes, you read that right.
Minister Graham believed that self-pleasuring was sinful and required a cure. He recommended switching to a vegetarian diet and eating whole wheat, bran, and wheat germ crackers to mitigate sexual desire. His followers, "Grahamites," initiated the first sexually abstinent vegetarian religious movement in the United States that shunned meat, spices, and sexual activity. Grahamites believed sexual activity and eating meat led to insanity and blindness.
The movement eventually became extinct, but the graham cracker remains, and thank heaven for that. Where would cheesecake be without its graham cracker crust? Or S'mores?
IFFY PIFFY BIFFY BOO DAY
Date: December 5, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Iffy Piffy Biffy Boo Day celebrates the work of psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and expert on hypnosis Milton H. Erickson (December 5, 1901 - March 25, 1980). Iffy piffy biffy boo is a nonsense string of words with a powerful objective.
"Iffy piffy biffy boo" is a pattern interrupt, a communication strategy first explained by Dr. Erickson that breaks a sequence of behavior or thought without engaging physically. It is a way of changing the subject and refocusing attention. Lawyers, teachers, actors, salespeople, and leaders use this technique effectively to guide the conversation, regain control of a room, or diffuse an escalating situation. A pattern interrupt can be a sudden movement, a change in tempo, tone, or random words.
Nonsensical words or unexpected changes not only diffuse the monotony, but you switch the energy and reset the conversation. It is a "do-over" and pattern interrupt perfected! It is also hilarious watching someone attempt to repeat it back to you, and twice the fun if they say it fast! Try it.
Iffy piffy biffy boo is a playful version of a pattern interrupt created to celebrate Dr. Erickson's work. It takes the rut out of routine with a smile. Use iffy piffy biffy boo, or create a unique version for yourself. It is up to you.
Annually on his birthday, December 5.
Date: October 23, 2022
Champion: American Chemical Society; National Mole Day Foundation
Mole Day brings awareness to a numerical equation. Celebrated by chemists, chemistry students, and science enthusiasts, it commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power), a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Hence, the date and the exact time of celebration: 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates.
The date also falls during National Chemistry Week, an annual event that unites the American Chemical Society, businesses, schools, and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry in everyday life.
Avogadro's Number defines the quantity of particles (atoms or molecules) in one mole of a substance. A mole is one of the seven base International System of Units (SI) measurements.
Mole Day in schools and universities motivates students' interest in chemistry; various activities, games, and competitions are organized that explore chemistry and moles.
Annual awards on Mole Day include the George Hague Memorial Travel Award and the Mole of the Year Award. Details on applications and requirements are available on the National Mole Day Foundation (NMDF) website.
NMDF was created on May 15, 1991, by Maurice Oehler, a former high school chemistry teacher from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
SAINT SWITHIN'S DAY
Date: July 15, 2022
Location: United Kingdom
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Legend says if rain falls on Saint Swithin's Day, the next 40 days will be wet, and if it does not, the next 40 days will be dry. The tradition began on July 15, 971 AD, a day it rained heavily as the relics of the Saint Swithin were transferred to Winchester Cathedral.
So will the rest of summer be wet or dry? We won't know until the end of the day.
Date: July 27, 2022
Sleepyhead Day might be called the revenge of the early risers, especially if you are not a morning person. It is celebrated in Finland yearly and pranks the family snoozer, the last person to get up. This person is doused with water or thrown into a lake or sea. Another Finnish strategy is to shave the left side of the sleepyhead's chest, but only if the family snoozer is a man.
In the towns of Naantali and Hanko, it's a public event. Prominent members of each town are thrown into the sea at precisely 7 A.M. The person's name is kept secret until the last minute. Approaching the dunking hour, selected townspeople whisk him or her out of bed and into the drink. Splash! Good morning!
The Sleepyhead Day tradition is rooted in the story of the Saints of Ephesus (the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus). Custom says that around 250 AD, the seven men fled to a cave fearing persecution of their Christian beliefs. Fervently praying for God's help, they fell asleep and woke up two centuries later.
WHITE BALLOON DAY
Date: September 9, 2022
This event is not funny but essential. It seeks to prevent a parent's worst nightmare.
Protecting children from childhood predators and providing the resources for victims to heal is the agenda of White Balloon Day in Australia. Funds raised during White Balloon Day support personal safety education programs and child protection services, counseling and support services, and lobbying for legislation to protect children.
White Balloon Day began in 1996.
POISONED BLACKBERRIES DAY (MICHAELMAS)
Date: September 29, 2022
Champion: Christian Folklore
Poisoned Blackberries Day is the common term for the Christian feast day, Michaelmas marking the anniversary of the conquest of good over evil.
According to medieval lore, blackberries symbolize lawyers and justice. But why poisoned, and does it have anything to do with lawyers?
Stay with me. They do.
During the Middle Ages, Christians celebrated with a roast goose to commemorate the victory of archangel Michael over Lucifer (the devil, Satan). Michaelmas is the feast's name.
In the Bible, the archangel Michael battled against the devil in heaven and won. Poisoned Blackberry Day is so-called because, upon defeat, God threw Satan out of heaven, and he landed on a thorny blackberry bush. Furious, Satan spits on the blackberries, poisoning the entire crop for a day. Spoiling the fruit was a bit of a problem. Michaelmas was the "due date" for the completion of the harvest and marked the end of the third quarter in the Christian calendar. Additional quarter-end dates include Lady Day (March 25), Midsummer (June 24), and Christmas (December 25).
Michael, representing God's good, battled the devil and won, delivering justice over his evil deeds. Civically, there is an additional tie to the legal profession. Michaelmas marks the commencement of legal and university terms, and it signals the election of public servants to the office and a time for hiring.
Date: July 22, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Ratcatcher's Day commemorates the disappearance of 130 children on July 22, 1376, in Hamelin, Germany, and has ties to the story of the Pied Piper through a poem.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Rattenfänger von Hameln in German) was said to live during the 13th and 14th centuries; the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) haunted Europe, and its source was rats. As a ratcatcher in Hamelin, his services would have been in great demand.
The word "pied" means multi-colored clothing, and this particular ratcatcher is said to have lured rats from their hiding places with music from his pipe, a simple wind instrument that looks like a flute. Of course, if people refused to pay him, he used the music from his magical flute to lure the town's children away. Lore stated that 130 children disappeared in 1284 AD.
Or did they?
In a poem by Robert Browning, the date of the children disappearing is July 22, 1376, 92 years later. Ratcatcher's Day marks the poem's date, and Pied Piper Day marks the Hamelin date of 1284. Both are on the calendar.
The city of Hamelin is visited by thousands of people a day during the summer months, with the Pied Piper being the reason. In 2013 the city officially requested UNESCO recognize the city and its Pied Piper as intangible cultural heritage.
The Pied Piper legend endures in one form or another in the writings of Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, Robert Browning, Terry Pratchett, and others.
Oh, and if the painting in the header image looks familiar, and you've been to New York City's St. Regis Hotel, you are right. Parrish also painted Old King Cole.
And we come to the end of another issue. The next issue will highlight events in August, and follow the format of my previous issue.
This newsletter is also published on Substack a day later, in case you'd like to share it with people not on Linkedin.
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