International Sword Swallowers Day is a Thing, & It’s This Monday
I love looking into the random holidays that there are, and trust me, there are a lot. Many focus around food, many around culture, and some are just outright whacky. As for this coming Monday, it's a mixture of all three? Unsheathe your blades because February 28th, the last day of the month, is International Sword Swallowers Day!
Have you ever noticed that sword swallowers don't get the same attention as singers, actors and other performers? Well, it's a damn shame, and Monday is an opportunity to right that wrong! This day has a higher purpose; though, that many of you wouldn't expect. You see, the month of February is National Swallowing Disorders Month. The initiative was formed to raise money for esophageal cancer research and other throat related conditions, along with funding medical treatment of injured sword swallowers.
According to National Today, around 2000 BC, fakirs and shaman priests in India developed the art of sword swallowing to show off their power and bond with the gods. Originating in India, the practice slowly spread around the globe. This art soon made its way to Europe from Rome and Greece, with medieval street performers taking up the practice. The Catholic Church banned street performances such as these in the Middle Ages; however, common folk still managed to get their sword swallowing viewing wherever they could.
With the decline of street performances in the 1800s, so did the interest in sword swallowing. It wasn't until the end of the 1800s with the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago that a new generation was introduced to the talent.
In the late 19th century, sword swallowing actually led to medical scientific breakthroughs. For instance, a Scottish physicist used a sword swallower to study the human digestive system. In 1868, Dr. Adoplh Kussmaul reportedly used a sword swallower to invent the endoscope.
How to Celebrate
- Catch a live sword swallowing show. Ripley's Believe It or Not museums across the country hold gatherings and events. You can watch artists perform by visiting a show. If there is nothing nearby, we have the internet! Watch old videos or find live streamed events.
- Learn more about the art. Do some more digging into the history, some performers, and ask questions!