Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #27: Saturday Edition

Ok, I have to apologize for this week's edition of Fun Friday Facts being late. I forgot it was Friday yesterday. I thought it was Thursday all day. I blame it on lack of nicotine and general stress.


As you know, it's February, that bleakest and most depressing of months. Nothing good happens in February. It too cold, it's too dark, and it doesn't even have any good holidays (and if you just said, “What about Valentine's Day?” you are hereby banned from the blog). Even its spelling is f*cked up. It's almost as if February wants us miserable.

And don't say Fat Tuesday either because LENT. ~ Infrogmation of New Orleans

Thankfully, February is also the shortest month, and always will be, in spite of that leap year bullsh*t it keeps trying to pull on us. So, as crap as it is, it could be worse. We only have to deal with February for 29 days this year, and then we can move on and life will be oh so much brighter.

No one likes you, February.

Being the kind, generous, compassionate, and all-around awesome person that I am, I couldn't just let you all suffer through February without trying to cheer you up first.

1) Did I just say February has no good holidays? I was wrong.


25 February is World Sword Swallower's Day, which is appropriate, because that's exactly what I feel like doing by the last week of February. To celebrate, sword swallowers will gather at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums across the world at 2:25 PM, to swallow swords.

Sword swallowers will also perform at nursing homes, hospitals, and orphanages throughout the day, to entertain the old, sick and alone in the world.

Not only are sword swallowers just plain good folks, they also want some recognition for their collective contributions to medical science. In 1868, German Dr. Adolf Kussmaul developed the first rigid endoscopy techniques with the help of a sword swallower. In 1906, Welsh doctors enlisted the help of a sword swallower to perform the first esophageal electrocardiogram. Sadly and unjustly, the names of these sword swallowers have been lost to history.

Sword swallowers also use the occasion to raise money for esophageal cancer research and contribute to the Injured Sword Swallower's Relief Fun. According to Sword Swallower's Association International (SSAI) and Ripley's Believe It or Not!, World Sword Swallower's Day is in February because February is National Swallowing Disorders Month.

I'll just let that sink in for a minute.

2) February is also Black History Month, Electrical Safety Awareness Month, Termite Awareness Month, National Pet Dental Health Awareness Month, Low Vision Awareness Month, Body Awareness Month, Heart Disease Awareness Month, National Cancer Prevention Month, Heartworm Awareness Month, Sinus Pain Awareness Month, School-Based Health Center Awareness Month, Safety Awareness Month, Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, and National National Awareness Month Awareness Month, but you know, we ran out of months loooooong before we ran out of things to be aware of.

3) Groundhog Day was two days ago, but you knew that, cause you've seen the film. I spaced it this year (the holiday, not the film), but those groundhogs don't know what they're talking about anyway. The National Climactic Data Center has given the groundhogs an accuracy rating of 39%.

What do you expect from a rodent?

Apparently, the tradition originated with Pennsylvania Germans in the 18th century. It may have its roots in ancient European pre-Christian practices. I wished they'd called it Whistlepig Day, but maybe that's just me.

4) 29 February is Sadie Hawkins Day, or the day when women are allowed to propose to men. At least, that's what I've always heard. I've already mentioned how I feel about these kinds of carryings on.

The folk tradition of female proposals during the leap year supposedly dates back as far as 5th century Ireland, although it doesn't begin to appear in historial records until the 19th century. Some traditions allowed women to make their proposals on any day of the leap year, while others restricted them to 29 February or another specific day in February. The women in question may have been obligated to wear breeches or a red petticoat (remember, this is the 19th century), so that they didn't take any poor fellas unawares. The men may have been asked to pay recompense – anything from a kiss to a small sum of cash to material goods such as fabric or gloves – if they were so bold as to refuse the poor lady's proposal.

5) The name “Sadie Hawkins Day” originates from a November 1937 L'il Abner comic strip. In the strip, character Hekzebiah Hawkins cooks up a plan to marry off his butt-ugly daughter, Sadie, a 35-year-old spinster. Somehow, he convinces all the unmarried men of his town to take part in a footrace. After the men are given a fair head start, Sadie sets off in their pursuit. The one she catches and drags over the finish line will be legally bound to marry her.

But what do pistols and bear traps have to do with it?

The other spinsters decide this is a f*cking great idea and the event becomes an annual occurrence in the fictional town of Dogpatch.

Al Capp, the L'il Abner artist, had no way of knowing how deeply his funny little plot would resonate with the young people of the nation. In 1938, Morris Harvey College borrowed the idea to host the first Sadie Hawkin's dance, to which young ladies were encouraged to ask young men for dates. Remember, this was a novel idea for 1938.

By 1939, more than 200 colleges across the nation had hosted similar events. Capp, who had intended to use the idea once and move on, became inundated with fan mail, as well as yearly missives from colleges, churches and community organizations, begging to know when the next Sadie Hawkins Day would be so that dances could be planned in advance. At length, Capp set the date on the first Saturday after 9 November. The tons of approving fan mail he received moved Capp to repeat a Sadie Hawkins-themed strip every year – for forty years.

Let's end on this note.