July 1 is International Joke Day

international joke dayToday is International Joke Day. In 2001,  Richard Wiseman enlisted the aid of the British Association for the Advancement of Science(BAAS), founded in 1831 and now known as the British Science Association (BSA), in conducting a yearlong study designed to discover the world’s funniest joke and learn about the psychology of humor.

They created the LaughLab website to enlist the participation of people around the world. Its survey asked each test subject to share his or her favorite joke, then collected demographic information such as age, sex and country of residence, and finally asked them to rate a random selection of jokes submitted by others.

To elicit quantifiable results, the survey required all participants to rate the jokes’ funniness using a special “giggleometer” invented specifically for the study.

By the end of the experiment, LaughLab had received more than 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings. After collating the results, and taking into account which jokes made men laugh versus women, kids versus adults, country versus, well, other countries, Wiseman and the BAAS determined the world’s funniest joke. It was submitted by Gurpal Gosall, a 31-year-old psychiatrist from Manchester, England.

Here it is:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”. The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

Have a happy International Joke Day! What’s your favorite?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 30 is Social Media Day

social media dayToday is Social Media Day, created in 2010 by Mashable “to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.” (In related news, we just found out Mashable still exists!)

You might be thinking, “Wait just a goldarned minute! Isn’t every day Social Media Day?” The answer is yes, but rein in the potty-brained self-talk, please.

Today is momentous because it pays tribute to social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Quora, Vine, WhatsApp and others, some of which hadn’t been invented seven years ago.

We would be foolish not to mention Google+. Google is everywhere and knows everything: It’s like SkyNet met the Matrix and learned it’s better to keep us all alive in a continuous biofeedback loop of consumption than to crush our bones into dust.

One of today’s festivities is the “tweetup,” where people who follow each other on Twitter get to meet IRL. That stands for In Real Life, which we figure can’t be cool anymore since we know it. How awkward might it be to have a conversation that hasn’t been condensed into 140 characters?

From 2016’s #SMDay page:

From Kanye’s Twitter rants to DJ Khaled’s Snap Stories, you can say social media has us feeling #blessed. Join Mashable, Splash and feedfeed as we celebrate the seventh-annual Social Media Day in NYC! We’ll have food, drinks, music and other surprises. Don’t get #FOMO, and RSVP now!

Hashtag, pound sign, count us in! Happy Social Media Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 29 is National Waffle Iron Day

national waffle iron dayToday is National Waffle Iron Day, a holiday that celebrates one of the world’s favorite kitchen appliances. Although today’s date doesn’t appear to have any historical significance and may have been initiated by manufacturers, the story of the waffle iron and its evolution is an interesting one.

The waffle iron’s earliest known predecessor is the Medieval fer à hosties, irons used to make communion wafers. Introduced during the 9th-10th centuries, the plates bore images of Jesus and his crucifixion which became imprinted on the wafers during heating.

The Belgian waffle we enjoy today got its start in the 1300s when two metal plates were hinged together and attached to a long pole that made it possible to cook over an open fire without risking burns. The plates often depicted a family’s coat of arms or other personally significant images.

In 1869, the first U.S. patent for an “Improvement in Waffle-Irons” was awarded to inventor Cornelius Swartwout, who revolutionized the waffle-making process. He fitted his design, meant for use on a stovetop, with an innovative handle for opening, closing and turning the cast-iron plates, which were joined by a hinge that swiveled in a cast-iron collar.

In 1911, General Electric made a prototype of an electric waffle iron but didn’t produce and sell the design until 1918. We’ve been unable to ascertain the reason for the delay but would guess that the company was perfecting the cooking process to create consistent results while adding safety measures to reasonably avoid fire hazards. (We say “reasonably” because this was a time when consumers were expected to take responsibility for common sense precautions and wouldn’t, say, sue G.E. if they left the iron on all day and burned down the house.)

Prize for the most creative use of a waffle iron goes to Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, an Oregon track coach trying to create a lightweight sole with excellent traction. Sometime in 1970, Bowerman was inspired by the waffles his wife had made for breakfast. He commandeered the waffle iron and filled it with melted urethane. Although Bowerman forgot to grease the iron and it glued shut, he persevered and the profit from the sneaker empire he created was more than enough to replace the family waffle iron.

To celebrate today, you don’t need to invent anything more involved than your choice of waffle toppings. Just grab a napkin and have a yummy National Waffle Iron Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 28 is Monday Holiday Law Day

monday holiday law dayToday is Monday Holiday Law Day. Call it the mother of all holidays about holidays and Lyndon B. Johnson the father of the long weekend.

On June 28, 1968, President Johnson signed a bill moving the official celebration of Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day from their traditional dates to Mondays. The change was meant to give employees the opportunity to travel and spend more leisure time with their families, while making the workweek more efficient by removing the interruption of mid-week holidays.

Johnson also established a holiday to recognize Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the New World. According to the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, “By commemorating Christopher Columbus’s remarkable voyage, the nation honored the courage and determination of generation after generation of immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity in America.”

The law did not merge Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays into a generic Presidents’ Day. This myth, perpetuated by sales hawking everything from automobiles to mattresses, may have its root in an early draft which recommended it. Congress rejected it on the grounds that a holiday for all presidents would diminish Washington’s place in history. His birthday, February 22, 1732, is now officially celebrated on the third Monday in February.

Memorial Day began for the purpose of tending to the neglected graves of Union soldiers in Confederate cemeteries. (A similar tradition in the North was called Decoration Day.) Eventually, the two merged and May 30 was chosen by a group of veterans because, according to an address by President Barack Obama, “it coincided with the time when flowers were in bloom.”

The holiday wasn’t officially named Memorial Day until 1967. The following year, President Johnson moved its observance to the last Monday in May. Some veterans have complained that moving the date just to create a long weekend cheapens its meaning.

Columbus Day was scheduled the second Monday in October. Some states had already enacted their own commemorative holidays occurring on October 12, the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in 1492; they were required to jettison them and conform to federal law.

Veterans Day, called Armistice Day until 1954, was observed on November 11, to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when Germany agreed to an armistice with the Allies, effectively ending World War I. President Johnson changed it to the fourth Monday in October. In 1975, Congress voted to revert to November 11 in recognition of the importance of the date. The law went into effect in 1978.

(The spelling of Veterans Day is no mistake: While the holiday is commonly printed as Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website states, “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.)

Happy Monday Holiday Law Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays