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November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day

Today is Guy Fawkes Day. It celebrates the day a traitor to the King of England was thwarted in his attempt to blow up the entire government while it met upstairs.

The plot developed as a way to end state-sanctioned religious persecution by killing James I and replacing him with a Roman Catholic monarch. Guy Fawkes, going by the name John Johnson, leased a cellar under the House of Lords in which to stockpile gunpowder.

Most agree that an anonymous letter informed Parliament of the plan, while some theorize that the government knew of it already and allowed it go on, foiling it at the last moment to ensure massive outrage against the Catholic conspirators.

In any case, Fawkes was found in the cellar with a pack of matches and 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was taken to the Tower of London and tortured. Twelve others were arrested for their involvement; four died in a shootout with English troops. The eight remaining men joined Fawkes in the Tower. In January 1606, they were all found guilty of high treason and condemned to death.

guy fawkes day execution

By law, the men were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Hanging wasn’t the be-all and end-all back then. When properly administered, the execution was just getting started. According to this particularly gruesome Wikipedia entry, a condemned man was:

1. Dragged, usually by a horse, on a wooden frame to the place where he was to be publicly put to death.
2. Hanged by the neck until nearly dead. A short rope was used to prevent his neck from breaking and keep him alive.
3. Brought back to consciousness, if necessary, and placed on a table. His genitalia were removed and his intestines pulled through an incision made in his abdomen. During that time, pieces of his organs were burned nearby so he’d witness as much as possible in case he died before disembowelment was complete.
4. Decapitated and his body hacked into four parts. The head was usually par-boiled in brine to preserve its appearance, then exhibited in the Tower of London, while the quarters were covered in pitch to create a longer-lasting display. The king chose where to send them for optimal crime-deterring value.

Typically, the pieces were then put on display in different locations chosen by the king to discourage would-be traitors who hadn’t witnessed the execution. Out of public decency, women were only burned at the stake to save subjects from the sight of naked lady parts. (I know: they were so lucky.)

Fawkes jumped from the gallows platform and broke his neck. Though the executioners still carried out the rest of the sentence, they were robbed of the opportunity to do it to him while he was alive.

While the capture of Guy Fawkes and failure of the Gunpowder Plot is still celebrated with bonfires and fireworks, it has less to do with 17th-century terrorism and more to do with throwing a party and having a good time.

Lately, Fawkes’s image has been appropriated as a symbol of protest. In the 1982 graphic novel and its 2006 film adaptation, “V for Vendetta,” the hero is an anarchist who wears a Guy Fawkes mask while battling an authoritarian fascist state. The authors wanted to celebrate Fawkes by turning him into an anti-hero for the modern age. Plastic masks to commemorate the film’s release were given to fans.

guy fawkes day mask

On February 10, 2008, Anonymous, a “hacktivist” group, held its first public demonstration against Scientology and its aggressive censorship. Protesters were urged to cover their faces to avoid identification “by hostiles.” Some took inspiration from the film’s final scene in which a crowd wore Fawkes masks while watching the Houses of Parliament explode and burn. Since then the mask has been used by the Occupy movement and by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Many see the mask as an icon in the fight against tyranny. The Yeomen of the Guard would disagree. The English monarch’s bodyguards since 1485 still search the cellars below the Palace of Westminster before each state opening of Parliament. The spirit of Fawkes, for good or ill, lives on.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 28 is National Chocolate Day

Today is National Chocolate Day. There are thirty “national” chocolate-themed holidays celebrated every year in the United States: dark, bittersweet, milk, white, cream-filled, to name a few, with Chocolate Covered Anything Day taking care of whatever else may have been lost in the shuffle.

While it’s unclear if these holidays originated with a candy manufacturer, it can’t be denied that chocolate is big business. According to statistics published by Forbes.com, Americans consume about 9.5 pounds of chocolate per person each year. (Switzerland leads the world, averaging 19.8 pounds!)

In the early 1900s, Milton Hershey and Frank Mars battled each other for the hearts and taste buds of the American public. They could never have imagined the influence the industry would have today. The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has its own Political Action Committee (PAC) called CandyPAC.

According to CandyPAC, it uses donations to support political campaigns based on:
national chocolate day candypac image

  • The candidate’s position on specific business and policy issues that have an impact on our industry.
  • The candidate’s overall support for the confectionery industry.
  • The candidate’s leadership and membership on key committees with jurisdiction over issues affecting the candy industry.
  • The candidate’s character, integrity and leadership abilities.
  • The candidates position on general business issues.

The annual NCA-sponsored Sweets & Snacks Expo takes place in a different city each May and features “more than three and a half acres of candy and snack items in one place!”

But there’s no need to wait that long to celebrate the chocolate business if you have an invitation and a valid passport. October 28th is the first day of Le Salon du Chocolat in Paris, a five-day event at which hundreds of international chocolatiers, pastry chefs and confectioners invite participants to taste their most indulgent creations.

national chocolate day fashion show

Still think all conferences are boring? This one includes the Chocolate Fashion Show. Check out this clip from 2016:

So basically this is an orgy for the sweet tooth that the most decadent Roman emperor would approve. While we’d like to condemn this sensory overload on moral grounds, we’d also like to know how we can snag a ticket for next year.

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY

international caps lock day

Today is INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, celebrated on June 28 and October 22 each year. Derek Arnold created the unofficial holiday in October 2000 to bring attention to those who abuse the caps lock key and, by extension, everyone who receives their emails, texts, and Internet screeds.

Arnold claimed he had a higher purpose in mind, stating:

International Caps Lock Day is in fact a testament to the small mindedness of certain Western individuals: the majority of the world’s population writes in scripts which have no concept of letter casing. Therefore it is advised to laugh at anyone who invokes this day as an excuse to dismiss local typographical conventions: they are simply making an ass out of themselves.

That’s a lofty goal, but we suspect its popularity has more to do with the joy of hitting the caps lock key and capitalizing with impunity.

With the rise of the Internet has come the evolution of netiquette, which dictates that writing in capital letters is considered shouting: boorish, rude and aggressive. Although many protest this reading, it has become an accepted interpretation of the practice.

Why do we celebrate this twice a year? Arnold added the second iteration to honor Billy Mays, the beloved pitchman who said everything in capital letters, who died on June 28, 2009.

Looking for the easiest possible way to celebrate? If you use Chrome, there’s an extension for that. Designed by Baptiste Candellier, on each holiday, it will make you unable to type in lower case and display almost every web page in upper case.

Or download Billy Mays Caps Lock by John Haller, another fan of the infomercial king. When you hit the Caps Lock key, you’ll hear Billy Mays say:

“Hi, Billy Mays here!”
“It’ll make your whites, whiter!”
“Order right now and we’ll double the value!” or
“Here’s how to order!”

When we first observed this holiday on October 22, 2015, we had a few niggling observations about capslockday.com: the site’s HTML listed the title as “internetonal caps lock day home page” and the page itself featured a photo of Billy Mays captioned, “GOOD NIGHT, SWEAT PRINCE.” Arnold also stated he was on SNAPCHET, which we can only assume is a social media network for country western music fans, and pointed out the caps lock key with the description “AT THE BOTTOM, WHERE IT SAY CASP LOCK.”

While we realize that correcting grammar and spelling is considered annoying by many these days, we can’t help but wonder: here are two holidays predicated upon the notion of irritating everyone else, yet there is no International Editors’ Day? THAT AIN’T ISN’T RIGHT.

On November 3, 2015, we noticed that the site had been taken down. With the help of the Wayback Machine, we captured the archived page. The Internet is forever….

CAPSLOCK DAY SITE SCREENGRAB

INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY SCREENGRAB

INTERNATIONAL CAPSLOCK DAY SCREENGRAB

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, EVERYBODY!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day

global handwashing day

Today is Global Handwashing Day. We know, we know: eww! When it comes to that ill-advised hot dog wolfed at a highway rest stop, we are all like Mulder on the X-Files: we want to believe. That counter’s clean, the food freshly prepared by people who treat every day as handwashing day. So this must be one of those silly made-up holidays. Right? Why are we still talking about this?

Global Handwashing Day was founded in 2008 by The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing to raise awareness of how proper hygiene can prevent disease transmitted by hand.  Here’s a tweet promoting the holiday and the graphic embedded in it.

Why #GlobalHandwashingDay? B/C 1 trillion germs can live in 1 gram of poop (abt weight of a paper clip)! http://bit.ly/1JUaOrD

global handwashing feces facts

Wait a minute. The numbers in the tweet and its graphic don’t match. Although I think we can all agree that either number is unsettling, we feel it’s our duty to get to the bottom of this. Who knew that researching this would end up in such a dark place?

Okay, now that we’ve gotten our juvenile punning (mostly) out of the way, let’s learn a little bit about the strangers in our poop. According to a study cited by the Centers for Disease Control, a gram of feces can contain a total of 1 trillion germs. So the tweet is right. Reporting of the number of viruses and bacteria, however, varies wildly. You might want to take our word for it. The Google search alone will make you want to douse yourself in hand sanitizer (which, by the way, isn’t as effective as you might think.)

Now that you’ve got a face full of feces facts, here’s a dollop more. A German site called my.microbes aims to be the first social network to connect members with similar microbial profiles to “share experiences, remedies, health and diet tips.” Watch out, Match.com!

If you’ve got your mind on your manure and your manure on your mind, track your output with the PoopLog app. According to the developer, he updated it to include the ability to attach photos because “it is the most requested feature from my users.” PoopLog allows you to track your bowel movements using the Bristol Stool Scale.

The Bristol Scale was devised in England and is very, well, descriptive. Click here to view it but maybe not when you’re eating sausage. We’re not showing it here because we don’t want to support poop porn. We will show you this enthusiastic review of PoopLog, though:pooplog review Leland, we wish you the best in your turd analysis. Perhaps Places I’ve Pooped might be a useful app for you, too. Just a quick word of advice: turn off the flash when you take a shelfie™* in a public place, which we fervently hope is a restroom. The uninformed might frown on you taking a photo of what came from your posterior for posterity.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go wash our hands. We may never stop.

*sh– + selfie: don’t make us spell this out

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays