weird and wacky holidays happening in August

August 7 is Purple Heart Day

Today is Purple Heart Day. On August 7, 1782, at his headquarters in Newburgh, NY, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, ordered the creation of a Badge of Military Merit.

purple heart day

Replica of original badge

The badge consisted of a purple, heart-shaped piece of cloth with the word MERIT embroidered in silver across the front. It was awarded to soldiers who showed “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and services in any way.”

Only three soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War received the decoration: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. Afterward, it was largely forgotten until General Douglas MacArthur lobbied to revive it.

On February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
purple heart day
The medal bears the image of Washington and his coat of arms. It’s presented to members of the military who have been “wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.”

The Purple Heart has been a symbol of bravery and sacrifice since the founding of the United States. Today’s holiday serves as a reminder to honor our veterans.


Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 6 is Corporate Baby Name Day

corporate baby name dayToday is Corporate Baby Name Day. On August 6, 2001,, an online resource for pregnancy and parenting advice, announced the results of a survey it had recently conducted. The poll asked six hundred respondents if they would sell the right to name their baby for $500,000—to a corporation.

We’ve learned about many odd baby names over the years and tried our hand at tongue-in-cheek baby name generators here and here, but we’ve never seen anything like this

Twenty-one percent stated they were willing to allow a conglomerate to brand their child “Pepsi,” “Friskies,” “Mop’n’Glo,” “Kleenex,” “Budweiser,” “Jeep,” “Windex,” “Tropicana” or any product featured on the shelves at eye-level in the supermarket. Twenty-eight percent indicated they weren’t sure but would consider it.

The site created the study because of a couple in New York State who tried to auction off the name of their newborn boy on eBay. The bidding started at $500,000; there were no takers. They finally named him Zane on August 6, 2001, the deadline to add the first name to his birth certificate.

We wonder how many companies would pass up that opportunity today. No one would have it worse than the teacher at recess: “Taco Bell, stop picking on Charmin! Don’t make me come over there!”

Happy Corporate Baby Name Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 5 is Curiosity Day

Today is Curiosity Day. On August 5, 2012, NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity landed on the red planet after a procedure so complicated its engineers dubbed it Seven Minutes of Terror.

On November 26, 2011, an unmanned spacecraft carrying the 1,982-pound SUV-sized rover launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After traveling 354 million miles, it entered Mars’ thin atmosphere, its heat shield reaching 1,600 degrees as the craft slowed from 13,000 to 1,000 mph. A supersonic parachute deployed to decrease the speed further, to 200 mph.

The shield was jettisoned to allow the ship’s radar to “see” the surface. Rockets fired to slow the rate of descent to several feet per second. They couldn’t get too close to the surface because of the dust cloud they would create, potentially damaging Curiosity’s sensitive equipment.

To solve this problem, engineers designed a carrier they called a “sky crane,” which used the rockets to hover at a safe height while gently lowering the rover the rest of the way via cable. (Another nickname: “rover on a rope.”) Once it was deposited on the ground,  the carrier severed the tether and veered away, crashing into the surface several hundred yards away.

The process from atmospheric entry to touchdown took seven minutes. There was a 13.8-minute delay receiving signals at Mission Control; there could be no intervention from Earth, so there was no margin for error. The outcome had already occurred. Everyone involved with the $2.5 billion project waited helplessly until the signal reached them: Curiosity had made it.

The rover is equipped with a small nuclear power plant designed to generate electricity for 14 years. Since landing, its instruments have discovered carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur in rock, methane in the atmosphere and the remains of an ancient streambed. All are indicators that life may have existed there in the past.

It has also sent back some great selfies like this one combining multiple images taken with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of its robotic arm. ( See how here.)

curiosity day

Another of the rover’s instruments is the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), which utilizes vibrating plates to move soil samples through the chemistry module. On August 5, 2012, engineers directed them to produce musical notes and “sing” Happy Birthday to Curiosity.

We can’t help but be inspired by people with the vision, ingenuity and gumption to take on the challenge of the seemingly impossible and not give up until they achieve it. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses the phrase “Dare Mighty Things” at the end of its Seven Minutes video. It’s taken from a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

If we work together, is there anything humanity can’t do?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 3 is National Watermelon Day

national watermelon day

2016 Watermelon Queen Carla Penney

Today is National Watermelon Day. It closely follows July’s Watermelon Month, established in 2009 by a unanimous U.S. Congressional Joint Resolution.

Today’s holiday is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB), an organization whose strategic mission is to increase consumer demand in the U.S., Canada and Mexico while working to develop trade with England and Japan.

NWPB raises funds by charging U.S. producers and handlers three cents per hundredweight of watermelons intended for human consumption. Importers pay six cents per hundredweight.

Its Board of Directors decides how best to spend those fees to secure high-value print, television and radio publicity. It is dedicated to expanding watermelon’s summertime appeal to make it an everyday, year-round choice for consumers.

Another group supporting today’s holiday is the National Watermelon Association (NWA), which welcomes all who work in the industry to join one of nine regional chapters. Its website has information on everything from creating attractive in-store displays to factoring climate change into crop planning.

Since 1964, NWA has crowned a National Watermelon Queen, who is trained to serve as a spokeswoman and ambassador, promoting sales and consumption of the fruit. The 2016 Queen was Carla Lynn Penney; as one of her duties, she appeared at the February 2017 National Watermelon Association Convention in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Fun!

This holiday has made us appreciate the watermelon as more than just that thing we buy when we’re feeling nostalgic, lug home, resent for taking up half of the fridge, never cut into because it seems like too much work and finally throw out, vowing not to buy one ever again. Maybe this time will be different!

Happy National Watermelon Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays