May 24 is International Tiara Day

international tiara dayToday is International Tiara Day, created in 2005 by Barbara Bellissimo as a one-time accompaniment to her self-improvement program Seasons of Success.

In 2008, Lynanne White of American Rose Bridal asked for and received Barbara’s permission to make International Tiara Day an annual tradition. When she discovered May 24, 1819, had been Queen Victoria’s birthday, she decided to keep the date as is.

Since 2009, May 24th has given every woman in the world who secretly dreams of being a princess the opportunity to don an obviously fake, bedazzled headband–or, in the case of Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth, a priceless, jewel-encrusted symbol of divine rule.

Why not go gender-neutral? Princes wear crowns, too! So put on your physical or metaphorical tiaras, everybody and have a happy International Tiara Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

March 13 is Ear Muff Day

chester greenwood dayToday is Ear Muff Day, celebrating the date in 1877 when Chester Greenwood was awarded a patent for his “ear-mufflers.” Before long, his hometown of Farmington, Maine became the Earmuff Capital of the World, producing up to 50,000 pairs of Greenwood Champion Ear Protectors each year.

One hundred years later, the state of Maine declared December 21st—the first day of winter—to be Chester Greenwood Day. Event organizers in Farmington later moved its celebration to the first Saturday in December, in part so it would more closely correspond to the inventor’s birthday, December 4, 1858, and also to give parade-goers a better chance of warm weather.

Farmington’s 39th annual Chester Greenwood Day in 2015 featured a 5K Run/Walk, chili cookoff, polar bear dip and a performance by clog dancing group InClogNeatO. Each float in the parade sported a pair of earmuffs.

Even if you’ve never heard of Chester Greenwood, he’s probably been keeping your ears warm for years. So perhaps it’s fitting that he has a pair of holidays. Have a happy Ear Muff Day and a happy Chester Greenwood Day, too!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

February 26 is Levi Strauss Day

Levi Strauss dayToday is Levi Strauss Day. It celebrates the birthday on February 26, 1829, of the man who invented blue jeans with a little help from his friends.

Strauss, born Löb Strauß, grew up in Bavaria, Germany, where he, his family and his community faced discrimination because they were Jewish. They paid extra taxes and were only allowed to live in certain areas.

In 1847, after his father died of tuberculosis, 18-year-old Strauss and his mother and two sisters traveled to the U.S. and joined his two older brothers in New York City, where they had opened a dry goods business. He worked there through 1852.

He moved to San Francisco in 1853 to capitalize on the influx of miners hoping to strike it rich. The California Gold Rush, begun in 1849 after a nugget was found during construction of Sutter’s Mill, was in full swing. Levi Strauss & Company became a thriving business, selling fabric, clothing and other goods.

In 1872, Strauss received a letter from Jacob Davis, a tailor who had found a way to make pants constructed from Strauss’ sturdy cloth even more durable, by affixing metal rivets on the pockets and the fly seam. He couldn’t afford the patent application fee. Strauss covered it and they received the patent the following year.levi strauss day

Strauss never doubted their “waist overalls” would be a huge success. They offered two options: pants made of heavy “duck” canvas or blue denim. By 1911, the company phased out canvas altogether.

Why did miners overwhelmingly choose what would come to be known as blue jeans? According to Jude Stewart, author of ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, it has a lot to do with the dye process.She posted on Slate, “Unlike most natural dyes that, when heated, penetrate cloth fibers directly, indigo binds externally to the cloth’s threads, coaxed by a chemical agent called a mordant.

“With each washing some of these dye molecules are stripped away, taking bits of the threads with them. The process softens rough fabrics and individualizes the color. This extreme customization––plus the fact that jeans could be ‘shrunk to fit’––made every pair a second skin.”

Historian Lynn Downey added: “Once someone had worn a pair of denim pants, experiencing its strength…and how the denim became more comfortable with every washing…he never wanted to wear duck again; because with cotton duck, you always feel like you’re wearing a tent.”

Strauss helped finance the first synagogue in San Francisco and contributed to various charities, especially those benefitting orphans. As his company grew more successful, Strauss was able to expand his generosity even further by funding many scholarships for students applying to the University of California.

Strauss brought his nephews into the company—he had no children—and groomed them to take over for him. He stayed on as president until his death on September 26, 1902, at the age of 73. The basic jeans that bear his name have changed little since.*

*You may have noticed the rivet beneath the fly is gone. According to legend, cowboys squatting near campfires got crotch burns when the metal overheated. In reality, it was eliminated due to the World War II mandate to conserve metal. The back pocket rivets were removed in the 1950s after complaints they scratched furniture.

Levi’s are arguably the most famous pants on the planet. Happy Levi Strauss Day, everybody!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays


January 15 is National Hat Day

national hat day

Today is National Hat Day, celebrating headgear in all its crowning glory. Hats have a long, rich history and are worn for warmth, status, religious and ceremonial reasons, or fashion.

A tomb painting in Thebes, Egypt, dating back to around 3200 BC shows a man wearing a conical hat. Many well-to-do Egyptians shaved their heads and wore headdresses to stay cool in the desert heat. Ancient Greeks wore petasos, the first known hat with a brim.

In 1950, a mummified corpse was discovered in Tollund, Denmark. It’s estimated that the man died around 400 BC; he was so well-preserved by the peat bog in which he was interred that he was still wearing a pointed cap made of sheepskin and wool.

national hat day

In 1215, Pope Innocent III ruled that Jews and Muslims must wear distinctive dress because Christians might not recognize them and accidentally have sex with them. Required attire included pointed conical hats and badges to be worn on clothing, often yellow. By 1500, the practice had disappeared. The yellow badge was later reintroduced by the Nazis.

In the Middle Ages, hats for women ranged from simple scarves to elaborate truncated, cone-shaped hennins. Women began to wear structured hats similar to those of male courtiers in the late 16th century.

The term “milliner” refers to Milan, Italy, a city renowned for everything from ribbons, lace, and bonnets to straw works and home goods.  It is derived from late Middle English (originally in the sense “native of Milan,” later “a vendor of fancy goods from Milan”): from Milan + -er.  It has come to refer exclusively to the design and manufacture of hats.

In the first half of the 19th century, women wore bonnets of increasing size, trimmed with feathers, ribbons, flowers, and other decorations. By the dawn of the 20th century, many other styles had been introduced, among them wide-brimmed and flat-crowned hats, flower pot and toque styles. By the mid-1920s, women began to cut their hair short and chose close-fitting hats that hugged the head much like a helmet.

Since then, hats have gone through phases of popularity. Elaborate hats, or “fascinators,” are popular at royal weddings and horse races. Big hats were a hit in the 1980s. The pork pie, fedora and trilby have claimed a spot atop many a hipster’s head. Some of today’s eccentric creations can be classified as wearable art.

national hat day

Bonus fact: In the 18th and 19th centuries in England, mercury was used in the manufacture of felt, a standard material used in hats. Workers in hat factories were regularly exposed to trace amounts of the metal. Because our bodies can’t eliminate or excrete the toxin, mercury accumulates in our tissues over time.

Repeated exposure leads to mercury poisoning, which causes dementia. It happened with enough regularity to those in the hat business that “mad as a hatter” became a popular expression when referring to someone acting (or being) insane.

Don’t worry. Mercury was phased out long ago; hats are perfectly safe. (Unless they cover your eyes while driving: common sense warning.) Don the jaunty chapeau of your choice and have a happy National Hat Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays