A week last Wednesday, as well as being St David’s Day, was also the first day of meteorological spring. The date was chosen because of the usual rise in temperatures around that date and the calendar devised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Right on cue a week later Britain was blanketed in snow as temperatures dropped below freezing.
I had seen weather warnings on the news, but I thought it never snows here. It was only when my phone started pinging in the early hours that I knew something was up. It was the children on the family WhatsApp group excitedly announcing that it was a ‘snow day’. I should point out the children are in their 30’s but it just goes to show the power of snow. I didn’t exactly rush to the window but when I pulled back the curtain I still had a smile seeing the white blanket covering the garden.
Anyway, this got me thinking about the almost arbitrary way we chose days to mark the change of the season or celebrate certain events. The 1st March is probably as good a day as any to mark the start of spring because it is around that date we usually see daffodils, experience longer daylight hours and a rise in the temperatures.
Other events aren’t quite so obvious, take Christmas. Choosing 25th December to celebrate Christmas might owe more to wanting to appropriate the pagan winter solstice festival, the nativity of the Sun than to any real evidence that it was the actual date on which Jesus was born. Nativity of the Sun??? Change one letter and you’ve got Christmas! But even that date has changed over time. The Orthodox Church still celebrates Christmas on 7th January as they refused to change from the Julian to Gregorian Calendar.
The thing is, if you want to make people do something or remind them of something every year you really need to come up with an annual celebration day. We all get a little bit older every day, but we choose to take the date of our birth as being special to mark another journey around the sun. The same is true for Patron Saints days or national holidays like Martin Luther King Jr day in America. By choosing a special date it does help remind people of a significant memory, event or person.
With this in mind I thought I’d check out what special days we celebrate on 11th March 2023. Some would seem to be more unusual than others.
Today is ‘National No Smoking Day’, a special event day which started back in the early 1980s. For anyone under 30 it would be hard to imagine just how much has changed when it comes to smoking. Growing up, any trip to the pub meant coming home reeking of cigarette smoke as smoking and drinking went together like bacon and eggs. It has taken time and education to reduce the proliferation of smoking and of course the health benefits are there for all to see.
Is there still a need for No Smoking day?
The organisers say that if you are going to give up smoking its good to have a day that focusses the mind and reminds you of the health risks of tobacco and the benefits of giving up. With an estimated 200,000 children starting to smoke in the UK every year it seems ‘No Smoking Day’ still has relevance today.
Today is…’World Plumbing Day’!!! This is an international day of celebration initiated by the World Plumbing Council.
Tomorrow, I for one will stand and salute Plumbers around the world. Ok maybe I won’t and maybe at first it might seem a bit of an odd thing to celebrate but there is method behind the madness. The reason we probably taking plumbing for granted is that we all have it and except for the odd leak it works well. This wasn’t always the case in our country and it certainly isn’t the case elsewhere in the world.
Diseases like Cholera were all too familiar in the past and thankfully have now almost been consigned to history due to good plumbing and sewerage systems. We take that for granted other parts of the world can’t. By choosing a special day the World Plumbing Council want to remind the world that there is more to be done. They want sanitation on the agenda for governments around the world.
By the way if you see a plumber tomorrow show your solidarity and give them a bug hug.
Which brings me finally to ‘Wash Your Nose’ Day. Compared to Christmas and Easter, National Wash Your Nose day is relatively new. In fact I think it was registered in the last year or so and it was registered by a company that specialises in…sinus care products. I will return to the subject in a moment, but we should note that companies influencing our traditions is nothing new.
Take Father Christmas. For many years Father Christmas wore green robes. It was only when Coca Cola changed the colour of his outfit to match their company colours for a very successful advertising campaign in the 1930s that Santa went red.
In my part of the world ‘Black Friday’ was always the final Friday before Christmas when all the offices closed and everyone went down the pub for a final festive drink. It is only in recent years ‘Black Friday’ has become a shopping extravaganza on the day after Thanksgiving in the USA marking the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Back to ‘Wash your nose’ day…
I expect it was a marketing executive or consultant that suggested to the nasal hygiene company based in the USA that ‘Wash Your Nose’ day would be a good idea, not just for your nose but for the company’s profile and profits.
The concept is that people need to be made aware that nose washing should become an essential part of your personal hygiene routine. To help promote the day and get people talking the company have come up with a list of ‘nasal fun facts’. Did you know 80% of what is tasted in the mouth is influenced by smell, that the part of the brain dealing with smell is 50% larger in women, that humans have 12 million smell receptors whilst bloodhounds have 4 billion.
They also give a list of ways to celebrate ‘Wash Your Nose’ day which includes either watching the Steve Martin film ‘Roxanne’ which tells the story Cyrano De Bergerac who was known for the size of his nose or possibly the new Pinocchio animation!
There are also websites and videos devoted to showing you how this should all be done safely whilst also suggesting you check with your doctor before doing anything.
I haven’t checked so I don’t know if there is one already, but I can’t help thinking the ‘National Colonic Irrigation Organisation’ are missing a trick here…
So Happy ‘National Plumbing’, ‘No Smoking’ and ‘Wash Your Nose’ Day. I’ll never look at 11th March in the same way again.