strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in February

February 11 is Pro Sports Wives Day

pro sports wives dayToday is the 11th annual Pro Sports Wives Day, a national day of recognition for the contributions of pro sports wives to their husband’s careers and the community. According to Statista, which gathers statistics from more than 18,000 sources, 2014 revenue of U.S. sports markets totaled 60.8 billion dollars.

Pro Sports Wives Day was instituted in 2006 by the Professional Sports Wives Association (PSWA), an organization that seeks to unite all sports wives and provide information about financial planning, childcare, household management, marital support, franchise opportunities and domestic violence.

PSWA publishes a quarterly e-magazine and its website includes videos about diabetes control and securing pensions. There is also a PSA that looks suspiciously like an ad for a traumatic brain injury treatment center, and another that turns out to be “an intimate message from God to you.”

The association began Pro Sports Wives Day to acknowledge the critical role that the wives of professional athletes play behind the scenes by helping to support their families, charities, foundations, and each other.

Pro Sports Wives Day honors the past year’s most distinguished mentors, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. It also awards Married Female Athlete of the Year, Pro Sports Wives League of the Year and the Pro Sports Wives Courage Award, which typically goes to a wife who’s dealt with a devastating illness, either her own or that of a family member.

“Most fans think that the player’s lives are glamorous and that players, wives, and families do not have any problems that non-public families face, which is not true,” said Gena Pitts, founder of PSWA. “In fact, we face more physical, emotional, financial, divorce, and stressful situations simultaneously that money can not solve than most people face in a lifetime.”

That’s enlightening. We didn’t know that pro sports players and their families have it harder than the rest of us. No matter what we may think of that assertion, we should all take a moment to recognize the challenges these women face and overcome on a daily basis. And have a happy Pro Sports Wives Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

February 10 is Plimsoll Day

Today is Plimsoll Day. It celebrates the birth of Samuel Plimsoll (Feb. 10, 1824— June 3, 1898), a British merchant, politician, author and reformer whose tireless efforts saved many sailors’ lives.

Plimsoll realized that the power to bring ship owners to account rested with the government. So he ran for a seat as a member of Parliament (MP) and was elected on the second try, in 1868. He tried in vain for the next eight years to pass a bill to regulate the shipping industry.

Sinkings occurred so frequently that the term “coffin ship,” overloaded, unseaworthy vessels, often so heavily insured that shipping companies stood to make a higher profit if the ship sank. Plimsoll sought to end this by advocating the inspection of all vessels, adoption of a maximum load line and limitation of insurance according to proportions of property on any one ship.

Plimsoll also fought the 1871 Merchant Shipping Act, which obligated seamen to complete a voyage after they had signed a contract. Any sailor who realized a ship was unseaworthy before boarding or during the journey was subject to imprisonment if he refused to go on.

It wasn’t unusual for a company to paint over wood rot, rename a ship and present it as new. When heavy loads were added, a ship could sink in anything but perfect weather. In March 1873, The Times printed a story about fifteen seamen who were imprisoned for months after they refused to board a ship. When the ship finally set sail with a new crew, it sank and three men drowned.

That year, Plimsoll published Our Seamen: An Appeal, a powerful attack on ship owners who knowingly risked their crews’ lives for their own profit. It brought public attention to the injust treatment of working men and incensed many MPs, especially those who were ship owners. (Plimsoll had arranged to have a copy of his book placed on each member’s seat in the House of Commons.)

Some decried him as a militant and tried to have him drummed out of Parliament. But Plimsoll had momentum and public support, although he would later nearly drum himself out. He initiated a Royal Commission to investigate wrongdoing and two years later in 1875, a bill was introduced. It was inadequate, in his opinion, and left ample room for amendments to further weaken it in the future.

However, it was better than nothing and Plimsoll made the difficult decision to support it. Parliament met on July 22, 1875, to ratify the bill. Then Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli changed his mind, deciding not to bring it to a vote, essentially killing it.

Plimsoll had labored for years to force companies to value safety over greed. When Disraeli appeared to accede to the wishes of his enemies, Plimsoll jumped from his seat in a rage, bounded to the floor in front of Speaker Sir Henry Brand and shook his fist at both sides of the assembly.

He proceeded to name-drop MP Edward Bates as the owner of three ships that had sunk the year before, killing 87. He stated that he intended to name others. Here’s the transcript of what happened next:

MR. PLIMSOLL: I am determined to unmask the villains who send to death and destruction—[Loud cries of “Order!” and much excitement.]
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member makes use of the word “villains.” I presume that the hon. Gentleman does not apply that expression to any Member of this House.
MR. PLIMSOLL: I beg pardon?
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member made use of the word “villains.” I trust he did not use it with reference to any Member of this House.
MR. PLIMSOLL: I did, Sir, and I do not mean to withdraw it. [Loud cries of” Order!”]
MR. SPEAKER: The expression of the hon. Member is altogether un-Parliamentary, and I must again ask him whether he persists in using it.
MR. PLIMSOLL: And I must again decline to retract. [“Order!”]
MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member withdraw the expression?
MR. PLIMSOLL: No, I do not.
MR. SPEAKER: I must again call upon the hon. Member to withdraw the expression.
MR. PLIMSOLL: I will not.

This went on until Plimsoll was asked to withdraw. He pretended not to hear, then stated, “I will withdraw,” thankfully ending the exchange before the inevitable “I know you are but what am I” stage and the ritual sticking out of tongues.

Disraeli moved to issue an immediate reprimand but MPs friendly with Plimsoll made the case that he had been overwrought by the burden of trying to save lives and would come to his senses soon. The prime minister agreed to a weeklong timeout instead.

Eventually, Plimsoll did apologize. Many people believed that the government had buckled under pressure from ship owners; they, in turn, pushed Disraeli to reverse his position and pass the bill. In 1876, the Merchant Shipping Act became law. Amendments limiting liability were finally repealed in 1894. Foreign ships visiting British ports were required to have a load line as of 1906.

Plimsoll remained a public servant for many more years, He was honorary president of the National Amalgamated Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union for several years and wrote a book about the horrible conditions cattle suffered during shipping. He even traveled to the U.S. to encourage a less negative portrayal of England in textbooks. He died on June 3, 1898.

plimsoll day

He will forever be remembered for his creation of the loading line that came to be known as the Plimsoll Line, marked on the hull of every cargo ship, indicating the maximum depth to which the ship can be safely loaded.

It’s impossible to estimate the number of sailor’s lives that have been saved because of Plimsoll’s dogged determination. A statistic attributed to Royal Museums Greenwich sets the total number of British ships lost in 1873 and 1874 at 411, with a loss of 506 lives. An A-level physics textbook lists U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as its source.

Neither site appears to have that quote. We are unable to track down the source of the number, which has been picked up and reported as fact like a Web-borne virus. It may very well be true but we can’t find confirmation in anything from accounts of the time to a 1981 thesis paper.(Nicely done, Mr. Dixon. We hope you received your PhD.)

It doesn’t really matter whether that number is correct; by any metric, the Plimsoll line has saved thousands in the intervening years. In 1929, the National Union of Seamen erected a monument in his honor, in grateful recognition of his services to the men of the sea of all nations.  It stands on the Victoria Embankment in London, overlooking the Thames River.

Some people associate his name with a type of sneaker that has a line around the rubber sides reminiscent of a Plimsoll line. Although Samuel Plimsoll had nothing to do with it, we’re sure he would have approved of any footwear that made it easier to walk on a slippery deck.
Happy Plimsoll Day!
Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Love May Make the World Go ‘Round, But Laughter Keeps Us from Getting Dizzy Day

Today is Love May Make the World Go ‘Round, But Laughter Keeps Us from Getting Dizzy Day, the first day of a weeklong celebration lasting through Valentine’s Day. It is the brainchild of Joel Goodman, who in 1977 founded The Humor Project, the first organization in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor.

Goodman dedicated the week to Victor Borge, who said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” For those unfamiliar with the pianist/comedian, we’ve collected a few performances certain to make you smile.

Watch his short “piano duel,” then see him sing with Dean Martin to demonstrate his system of “phonetic punctuation.” Cap off your viewing session with his “one-man opera.”

For more Victor Borge, check out the many playlists on YouTube. For information about how to increase your Humor Quotient at work and home, visit As Joel Goodman says, “Seven days without laughter makes one weak.”

Try to laugh every day this week. Watch a comedy, read a humorous book and make time to talk with the people who tickle your funny bone. It could become a habit.

Have a happy Love May Make the World Go ‘Round, But Laughter Keeps Us from Getting Dizzy Day and Week, everybody!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

February 5 is World Nutella Day

world nutella dayToday is World Nutella Day. It seems pretty straightforward, right? In 2007,  fangirl Sara Rosso declared February 5th a holiday to honor the delicious chocolate hazelnut spread. became a place for people to celebrate, swap recipes and share tales of devotion.

As of May 2013, the World Nutella Day Facebook page had 40,000 likes. That’s when Ferrero, maker of Nutella, sent Rosso a letter demanding she shut down and cease all activities relating to the product.

Rosso had been careful to stress that she had no affiliation with the manufacturer. Earlier that year, the site had noted. “Ferrero S.p.A. is not officially involved with World Nutella Day, nor are the organizers compensated by Ferrero in any way for organizing it; World Nutella Day is truly a labor of love for the tasty treat.”

Apparently, Ferrero didn’t appreciate the free publicity. It ending up receiving much, much more: the story was covered by Bloomberg Business, Time, Adweek, Huffington Post, Observer and Gawker, among many others. The company scrambled to retract its demand and make nice with Russo, asking her to continue running the site.

All’s well that ends well—for a while. Ferrero quietly took control of Today the site thanks her for starting the holiday and building a global fanbase, then states “In 2015, Sara transferred World Nutella Day to Ferrero (the makers of Nutella) to help it live on and grow for years to come.

“So for 2016, we searched for a new Chief Nutella Ambassador—someone with Sara’s delicious devotion—to help us lead the fans for this upcoming World Nutella Day.” They chose a 21-year-old college junior who bought her first jar of  Nutella when she was a freshman. So she’s fairly new to the love of Nutella. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays