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November 13 is Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins DayToday is Sadie Hawkins Day, an American rite-of-passage for generations of teenagers. Misogynistic, antiquated and awkward for all involved, the Sadie Hawkins Dance supposedly empowers girls to switch gender roles and ask out the boys. Did we mention it’s misogynistic and antiquated? The true origin is much, much worse.

Sadie Hawkins was a character created in 1937 by Al Capp in a cartoon called Li’l Abner, set in the fictional hillbilly town of Dogpatch, Kentucky. Sadie was the “homeliest gal in all them hills.” She waited in vain for a suitor to show up at her door, but not a single prospective husband came a-courting. After fifteen years, Sadie was in full panic mode and her father didn’t want to support a spinster daughter for the rest of her life.

After fifteen long years, Sadie’s dad decided to get creative. He called all the unmarried men of Dogpatch together and declared it Sadie Hawkins Day. The town’s bachelors would run for their lives with Sadie in hot pursuit. The “lucky” man she caught would have to marry her. As her Pappy explained, “Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin.”

Sadie_Hawkins_Day origin lil abner comic strip

The rest of the spinsters in Dogpatch (how many were there?) thought the race was an excellent idea and made Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of the bachelors in town, who had no say in the matter.

The Sadie Hawkins Dance appeared in the strip sometime later, taking place the night before the race. The spinsters wore hobnail boots to stomp on the feet of the single men, potentially making them easier to catch in the next day’s race.

The Li’l Abner comic strip debuted in 1934. From the start, it was bawdy and filled with sexual innuendo, not to mention scantily-clad, pneumatically-chested women. But it was apparently considered wholesome family fare. In 1939, Life magazine ran a story stating that 201 colleges were celebrating Sadie Hawkins Day.  By 1952, it was reportedly celebrated at over 40,000 different locations. Capp wrote of the phenomenon:

It’s become my responsibility (to include Sadie Hawkins Day every year in the strip). It doesn’t happen on any set day in November; it happens on the day I say it happens. I get tens of thousands of letters from colleges, communities, and church groups, starting around July, asking me what day, so they can make plans.

Eventually, it evolved into an all-day event that occurs during the second week of November.

sadie hawkins day life magazine

Li’l Abner was an enormous success for its creator, who grew rich from merchandising and movie deals, product tie-ins and a short-lived TV puppet show. In the 1960s, he underwent an ideological transformation from New Deal Democrat to hippie-hater and close friend of Richard Nixon. He became a highly paid speaker on the college campus lecture circuit. His routine was to insult and provoke his audience into a shouting match.

sadie hawkins day al cappCapp attempted to use his fame to “seduce” young women. The biography Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary characterized him as something of a failed serial rapist since the few women who reported him to the authorities always got away. (Capp had lost one of his legs as a boy and routinely removed his prosthetic leg along with his pants.) One would-be victim described tipping him over like a floor lamp, as he crashed into the hotel furniture.

Of course, grotesque slapstick aside, there was nothing funny about his sexual assaults on young women. In 1971, Capp succeeded in physically forcing a 20-year-old Wisconsin college student to perform oral sex on him. To her credit, and against overwhelming pressure, the student pressed charges.

Capp was not charged with rape, but with three lesser counts: indecent exposure, sodomy and “attempted adultery.” He was only found guilty of the latter. Although his career and reputation never recovered, he continued to publish the Li’l Abner comic strip until 1977. He died two years later.

Sadie Hawkins Day is not what it seems. She wasn’t a real person. It has nothing to do with women’s emancipation. Who uses the word spinster? What do you think? Does it matter what its origin is if no one realizes it—or cares, for that matter? Should it continue to be celebrated or be retired?

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 9 is Chaos Never Dies Day

chaos never dies dayToday is Chaos Never Dies Day. That much is certain. But should it be called National Chaos Never Dies Day? It seems like there’s enough chaos to call for an international celebration. No reason to have Chaos Awareness Month, though: we are in touch with it on a daily basis.

Why today? No one has claimed responsibility for the holiday, so there’s no one to ask that question. November 9th might have been selected because it coincides with the date of the Northeast blackout of 1965. Why not?

What is chaos? We’re reminded of  Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s response when asked to describe obscenity. He couldn’t define it, he said, “but I know it when I see it.”  Chaos can be equally hard to explain, depending on myriad factors such as timing, location, and circumstances.

In Greek mythology, Chaos was the first primeval god to come into existence at the universe’s creation. Her name comes from the Latin khaos, meaning  “gap” or the space between heaven and earth.

Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that describes the behavior of non-linear systems and attempts to find underlying order in what appear to be random events or data.

Here are few quotes that illustrate different views of chaos.

We live in a rainbow of chaos. – Paul Cezanne
Freedom is just chaos, with better lighting. – Alan Dean Foster
Chaos is the score upon which reality is written. –  Henry Miller
I like order. It allows me to have chaos in my head. – Dwight Yoakum

Perhaps we should give the last word to the dictionary.

Chaos
noun
1. A state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
2. Any confused, disorderly mass: a chaos of meaningless phrases.
3. The infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.
4. The personification of this in any of several ancient Greek myths.
5. Obsolete. A chasm or abyss.

Whether you choose to fight chaos today or welcome it with open arms, have a wonderful day. If you want to, that is. No pressure.

CHAOS NEVER DIES DAY, PART TWO:

Speaking of chaos, I experienced a flurry of it myself today, November 9, 2017,  when I was briefly interviewed by Michael S. Robinson on Microbin Radio. I had been invited to be a guest on the radio show only the day before, so I dutifully spent a day cramming the online equivalent of Chaos Theory for Dummies to prepare.

I’d been told I’d be quizzed on how I came to write about weird holidays and asked about holidays taking place before the end of the year. I gathered information on two of the wackiest: Start Your Own Country Day and Tió de Nadal, which involves a Christmas log that craps out presents. I’ve never been on the radio before and was wargaming it all out until three minutes before I went on-air.

What I didn’t know ahead of time was that the guests on the docket before me were scheduled to talk about the mass shooting in Texas and parenting. The show’s theme was “Are we Stuck in a Bad News Hell?”

The Michael S Robinson Show banner

When Mr. Robinson introduced me, I launched into a description of the beauty of the order that dwells in chaos even though we can’t perceive it.

I gave the example of football, which can’t be predicted in strictly linear terms by the sum of the players’ and team’s rankings because of variables like team chemistry, whether it’s a home or away game, the quarterback’s attitude, etc. Since I’m confident that you’ll never hear this, I’m going to say it was brilliant.

But Mr. Robinson wanted to talk about the chaos we deal with every day. Of course. I have a lot to say about the unprecedented amount of chaos we’re experiencing nowadays, but I ended up being woefully unprepared. I should have known that was what he would want to discuss.

How did I make such a mistake and overshoot what should have been an interesting and informative conversation? I didn’t just strike out. I left my bat in the dugout and brought a cello to the plate. I’d like to credit chaos in some artful way, say it created a perfect trajectory I can’t identify. That’s hogwash, of course—or is it? (It is.)

Also, I had feedback blasting my words back at me, making it almost impossible to speak normally. There’s nothing worse than hearing your own voice faltering in near-real time. Again, chaos. I don’t think I’ll get invited back. It’s probably just as well they spelled my name Kathlene Zaya.

$99,000 Answer The Honeymooners Ralph KramdenAll this reminds me of the $99,000 Answer, an episode of The Honeymooners in which Ralph Kramden prepares to go on a game show where he’ll be required to identify songs by the first few bars.

He rents a piano and has Ed Norton play musical selections all week to prepare for the event. Ed always warms up by playing the first few bars of “Swanee River,” which never fails to annoy Ralph.

The night of the show, the first tune played is “Swanee River,” which he can’t name. He loses in spite of all his preparation. I laughed but felt bad for Ralph, perpetual loser.

It also reminds me of every Curb Your Enthusiasm episode when Larry David does something stupid or thoughtless by misunderstanding the context of a situation—or just being a jerk. (That’s every episode.)

Fictional chaos theorist Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” So do laughs, but not always the ones you want or on the schedule you’d prefer.

CHAOS NEVER DIES, PART THREE:

November 9. 2018: I have not been invited for a return engagement by Michael S. Robinson. Perhaps my invitation was lost in the (e)mail. There certainly is quite a bit of chaos to discuss: the midterm elections, Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions, the discovery that the Mayans invented television. (In honor of Chaos Never Dies Day, I invite you to Google that last one.)

Correction: In Part Two, I misidentified fictional character Ian Malcolm as fictional character David Malcom. I regret the error and know that my use of flawed web research one year ago has introduced another tiny bit of chaos to the Internet. So, I guess you could say I’m doing my part.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 4 is U.S. Coast Guard Day

u.s. coast guard dayToday is U.S. Coast Guard Day.

After the Continental Navy disbanded in 1785, no proviso existed in the U.S. Constitution for the establishment of a permanent maritime force.

In 1790, Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first Department of Treasury Secretary, founded the service that would become the Coast Guard.

Established to enforce tariff laws and manned by crews of civilians, the fleet became known as the system of cutters, named for the type of vessel used: armed ships, usually single-masted, that measured at least 65 feet in length.

From 1798 through 1800, the U.S. and France fought an undeclared naval war known as the “Quasi-War,” precipitated by the U.S. reneging on the repayment of loans received from France during the American Revolutionary War.

Congress passed legislation authorizing President John Adams to reestablish the U.S. Navy and conscript revenue cutters from the Treasury Department during the conflict.

In September of 1800, Adams and Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of France, signed a treaty ending hostilities between the two countries.

The Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service, created in 1848 to save shipwrecked sailors, merged in 1915 to become the U.S. Coast Guard.

Happy U.S. Coast Guard Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 18 is Insurance Nerd Day

Insurance Nerd Day

July 18th is Insurance Nerd Day, created in 2016 to celebrate everyone employed in the insurance industry. It originated as a social media campaign to dispel the myth that insurance is a “boring” career path and to attract young people entering the workforce. Since then, the movement has been gaining momentum and, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of self-described insurance nerds, has become an annual holiday.

Insurance Nerd Day Worldwide Weird HolidaysWhat is an Insurance Nerd?

Insurance Nerd
\in-ˈshər-ən(t)s  \ˈnərd\
noun: A term of endearment for a person who is enthusiastic and passionate about working in insurance. Hobbies may include talking about insurance in his or her free time, convincing others to join the insurance industry, reading insurance publications for fun, collecting insurance company memorabilia and posting about insurance on social media to their non-insurance friends.

 

History of Insurance Nerd Day

Insurance Nerd Day Worldwide Weird HolidaysAccording to a recent study conducted by McKinsey and Co., 25 percent of insurance professionals will reach retirement age by 2018. Another study by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation found that only 5 percent of college students indicated they were “very interested” in pursuing a career in the insurance industry. As a result, the field is facing a critical talent gap.

To call attention to this issue, Pioneer State Mutual Insurance Company declared July 18, 2016, Insurance Nerd Day and took to social media to celebrate its employees and encourage other insurance professionals to get involved in breaking the stereotype that the industry is boring.

How to Observe Insurance Nerd Day

Dress up like an Insurance Nerd to show your pride and honor those who work in the insurance industry. Check out more photos on Pioneer’s Facebook page. Use #InsuranceNerdDay to join the fun on Twitter, snap and share pics on Instagram, and spread the word.

Have a happy and healthy Insurance Nerd Day and always remember to be as nerdy as you want to be, every day of the year!

 

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays