unofficial holidays related to animals

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October 11 is Cephalopod Awareness Day

Technically, there are five International Cephalopod Awareness Days (ICAD) in the annual celebration of the most intelligent invertebrates in the world.

Cephalopod Awareness Day

The first Cephalopod Awareness Day was established in 2007 by members of The Octopus News Magazine Online forum (TONMO) to bring attention to the diversity, conservation, and biology of the world’s cephalopods.

Octopi have eight arms while squid and cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles. So the eighth day of the tenth month was chosen to show appreciation for animals with a combination of 8 or 10 appendages. Then four days were added to the holiday to celebrate all cephalopods.

Let’s Call it Kraken Day (please?)

October 11 is Myths and Legends Day, celebrating all the fantastical cephalopods of movies, literature, and legend.  Since ancient times, cephalopods have been a recurring motif in myth, arts, and literature and they remain a subject of popular culture today.

Cephalopod Awareness Day

Things to do today:
Stop by TONMO. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a live feed of the conference.
Check out https://www.facebook.com/CephDays/
Put Clash of Titans (the original) on your Netflix queue and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on your Kindle reader.

Happy Cephalopod Awareness Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day

Black Cat Appreciation DayToday is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Although we’ve been unable to track down the origin of this holiday, we’ve found that the ASPCA celebrates the occasion each year by discounting its adoption fees for black cats and kittens, which it states are less likely to be adopted because of superstition.

Black Cats weren’t always considered bad luck. In ancient Egypt, cats were so highly regarded that killing one was a crime. Their bad reputation began during Europe’s Middle Ages when stray cats became associated with the spinsters who fed them.

Unmarried women were ostracized; living without a man was considered unnatural. Ignorance and fear of female sexuality fueled accusations of witchcraft and the cats those women showed kindness to were labeled as familiars, demons who did their bidding.

Folklore in the 16th century made matters worse when a popular tale told of a witch shapeshifting into a black cat. The hysteria reached its nadir one hundred years later during the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts. Some would say that the fear of feminine power continues to exert its corrosive influence around the globe.

So give your cat a big hug and a handful of treats, bring a rescue into your home or just show kindness to your neighbor. (That last one we should be doing all year.) Have a happy Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 20 is American Eagle Day

Today is American Eagle Day. On June 20, 1american eagle day782, the bald eagle was chosen to grace the Great Seal of the United States of America.

Two centuries later, President Ronald Reagan declared June 20, 1982, National Bald Eagle Day and designated 1982 as the Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle. But the observance was a one-time occurrence.

On June 20, 1995, President Bill Clinton and Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist each proclaimed the first official American Eagle Day. Since then, governors from 47 states have followed suit, according to the American Eagle Foundation, an organization working to make American Eagle Day a national holiday.

When the Founding Fathers adopted the bald eagle as our national symbol, there were approximately 25,000 to 75,000 of them in the lower 48 states, according to the Smithsonian. In 1963, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reported there were only 487 breeding pairs left, due to hunting, destruction of habitat, lead poisoning, and the catastrophic effects of DDT, a common pesticide.

american eagle day

DDT wasn’t lethal to adult eagles but accumulated rapidly in their tissues because their diet consisted of prey also contaminated with the pesticide, a process known as bioamplification.

High levels of DDT interfered with calcium absorption, rendering the birds sterile or unable to lay healthy eggs. Shells became so thin that they cracked under the weight of a brooding adult.

The Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) restricted the use of DDT in 1972; six years later, the bald eagle was placed on the Endangered Species List. Slowly, the population increased; the species’ status was downgraded to “threatened” in 1995. In 2006, USFWS reported 9,789 mating pairs in the lower 48 states and delisted the bald eagle the following year.

If you haven’t seen one up close, check out this list of 13 National Wildlife Refuges that are great places to spot bald eagles. If you have a lot of patience and bandwidth, watch a live nest cam.  Most of the time, nothing much happens, but every once in a while, you’ll get a glimpse of something interesting. It’s a little like the 24/7 stream of Big Brother but without the tears and subterfuge.

Happy American Eagle Day!

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 14 is Pop Goes the Weasel Day

pop goes the weasel day

Today is Pop Goes the Weasel Day, celebrating the rhyme we’ve known since childhood and the tune that sticks in our heads every time we hear it played on an ice cream truck. But what does the song mean? pop goes the weasel dayThe short answer is that it’s probably nonsense verse made popular (no pun intended) because children enjoyed shouting, “Pop!” It’s believed to have originated in the 1700s in England, but the first official version of the song wasn’t published there until the 1850s. Within a few years, it had jumped the pond and appeared in Boston and New York newspapers.

The British version had many variations but usually shared these basic verses:

Half a pound of tupenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Every night when I get home
The monkey’s on the table,
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the City Road,
In and out the Eagle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

The first verse seems to refer to cheap rice and treacle, a molasses-based syrup. Several British slang dictionaries agree that “monkey” represented £500, a tidy sum in those days. The Eagle most likely refers to the name of a pub on City Road in London. Today it displays a plaque endorsing this interpretation of the verse.

Is “Pop Goes the Weasel” about a dad who takes the money meant to put better food on the table and heads to the pub to drink it away? Maybe, maybe not. What does any of this have to do with a weasel and why does it pop? Theories abound:

  1. It refers to a dead weasel. Weasels pop their heads up when alarmed. Apparently, things did not go well for this one.
  2. A “Spinner’s weasel” is a spoked reel that measures yarn and makes a popping sound to indicate the desired length, usually a skein, has been reached.
  3. In English (usually Cockney) rhyming slang, “weasel” is short for “weasel and stoat,” which stands for “coat, ” usually a fancy one to wear to church on Sunday.
  4. “Pop” stands for “pawn.”

This leaves us with a dead rodent, a woman—sorry to reinforce gender norms, but that’s how it was—working her fingers to the bone spinning yarn and/or a man who spends so much on beer that he has to pawn his coat on Monday morning, then work all week so he can buy it back to wear on the following Sunday.

Soon after “Pop Goes the Weasel” came to the U.S. in the 1850s, it began to change. Today, its lyrics vary but tend to contain some permutation of the following:

All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought ’twas all in good sport,
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle—
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Jimmy’s got the whooping cough
And Timmy’s got the measles.
That’s the way the story goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Even if we can’t agree on the words and their meanings (or lack thereof), we all remember bits of that first verse and the tune is universal. What does it remind you of? We think of warm summer days playing tag and running after the ice cream truck.

Happy Pop Goes the Weasel Day. And to all you weasels: Let’s be careful out there.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays