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Just Joking…

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Hey, Jokers!

All joking aside, today is National Tell a Joke Day. It’s a day for laughter, levity, and wit. Unfortunately, I already took my serious pills this morning, so this post isn’t likely to make you laugh much. Instead, we’ll be taking a good, hard, and serious look at the origins of The Joke.

How did the first joke go? Who told it? And was it a good one? Well, I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I’ll share with you as much as I’ve learned…

The Knock-Knock
The Knock-Knock Joke is thought to have its origins around the year 1900 in which a journalist of the ‘Oakland Tribune’ wrote of a jokester in the streets who was approaching random strangers and asking if they knew Arthur. And when they expectantly replied, “Arthur who?” he would call out “Arthur-mometer!” and then run away laughing.

The humorous spirit of this street jokester caught on and over the years his antics developed the Knock-Knock format that we all know today. By 1935, everybody had heard of Knock-Knock Jokes. Strangers engaged one another in the street with a “Knock-Knock.” Knock-Knock Contests were held by businesses. You couldn’t even turn on the radio without hearing a Knock-Knock gag.

Poultry X-ingWhy do you think the chicken crossed the road?
More than 50 years earlier than Knock-Knock Jokes, a question was posed concerning the reason for a flightless fowl to cross a thoroughfare. This was first asked in an 1847 issue of a New York magazine called ‘The Knickerbocker’. It read:

Question: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?’ Answer: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!’

This was the first popular example of a non-joke in which the punchline isn’t clever or funny in any way—the humor lies in subverting the expected, knee-slapping reason that the listener is waiting for. The joke is that there is no joke. Love it or hate it, it’s led to a million alternative and ridiculous answers as to why exactly a chicken might cross a road.

Timeless Toilet Humor
But jokes go back even further than that. In fact, jokes are so old that there likely aren’t any new ones really—just twists on age-old observations. Did you know that toilet humor has been traced back to our ancient ancestors because—let’s face it—farting is funny no matter what generation you’re from.

An unearthed Sumerian tablet that dates back nearly 4500 years yields the oldest recorded joke ever. When translated, it reads:

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s embrace.”

The joke being that women are so discrete about passing gas that they won’t do it in front of their husbands. A modern retelling of this joke might look more like this: Question: ‘What’s something that’s never happened in all of history?’ Answer: ‘A wife farting while she hugs her husband.’

…Funny stuff…

Okay, well, nobody said the ancients were hilarious. Our humor has evolved as time goes on and things that we found funny years ago may not be so entertaining in this day and age. But the essence of what makes us laugh will always remain. Have some good laughs today and share some of your favorite jokes with your friends and family. Happy Joke Day, All! And, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


What—This Old Flag?

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Hey, Flag Aficionados!

Today is National Flag Day—a day to put out your flag and appreciate the banner that symbolizes your country. Flags are national symbols. Every country has a flag. Yet, the first flags were flown before the world’s countries ever existed! Let’s take a look into the history of flags to better understand how we got our own U.S. Flag.

Initially used for easy identification in warfare, the people of the High and Late Middle Ages would paint their shields with patterns to show whether they were a friend or foe. It became common, then, for knights, infantry commanders, and other leaders to fly a heraldic flag on their saddle in order to grab even more eyes with even more ease.

You're a grand ol' flag, you're a high-flyin' flag!It didn’t take long before the practice became commonplace for troops to carry their own flag out to the battlefield simply to distinguish their unit.In the early 17th century, when sailing reached an all-time peak in popularity, it became the law that ships had to carry flags in order to designate their nationality.And these are the flags evolved and transformed into the national flags and maritime flags of today.

And once flags had shown their purpose at sea, they made themselves useful as a means of simple communication from across the water as well by means of interactive systems.

The earliest national flag belongs to Denmark. It is referred to as the Dannebrog and, adopted in 1219, it is the oldest national flag of any country. However, by the end of the 1700s, it was one among an incredible number. And that number didn’t stop growing until every sovereign state had a national flag.

The American Flag features 13 red and white stripes and 50 stars to symbolize the 50 states and 13 original colonies, the American Flag is an incredibly iconic image, but it hasn’t always looked the same. Our original Flag (modernly known as the Betsy-Ross Flag or Colonial Flag) has been changed more than 25 times as stars continued to be added as territories were annexed into states. We finally designed our modern flag in 1960 after Hawaii, our 50th state, was granted its statehood.

Show your appreciation for our flag today and, as always, thanks for reading, Summer Camp Fans!

 

- John


What’s Ireland Got To Do With It?

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Happy St. Patty’s to you, Lads and Lassies!

Today we parade, we feast, and—most importantly—we don our green apparel to show our Irish pride (or admiration) and the culture in which the Irish surround themselves. It’s interesting that a holiday that’s thought to be so celebratory of the Irish culture owns up to so many elements that aren’t Irish. It might sound like a sin to say, but there’s actually little to do with Ireland when it comes to this celebration.

St. Patty’s Day is GREEN. And while it may be the current color of Ireland, it actually used to be a light shade of blue. It was the shamrock itself—used by St. Patrick—that eventually, by the end of the 18th century, swayed the people to accept their Irish blood was green, despite the The lovely land of Ire...land.fact that his teachings and spreading of Christianity went on more than a thousand years prior.

Okay, so what about the man St. Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland himself. His name sounds Irish. Well, it’s actually not known where St. Patrick was born; but we do know where he wasn’t born: Ireland. While unknown, he is believed to have been Scottish; but wherever he was from, we know it wasn’t Ireland as he was brought to the island as a consequence of being bound in slavery.

Okay, okay…So the color and the celebrated figure don’t actually originate in Ireland. But the celebration itself is an Irish holiday—right? Nope. St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated on March 17, 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts as a means for Irish immigrants to commemorate their heritage. What started as a community party run by less than 30 people is now a celebration seen across the globe…but it didn’t originate in Ireland.

Even so, the holiday has everything to do with Ireland! After all, it’s the homeland that the folks who first celebrated it were honoring. And why not?! Ireland and the culture of its people is certainly worth celebrating. Happy St. Patty’s Day to all of you, whether you be from Ireland or not and, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


It’s Such a Sunny Day; Please Share My Umbrella

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Hey, Rainy Day People!

Everybody knows when there’s anything from a drizzle to a downpour, it’s time to grab an umbrella! After all, that’s what umbrellas are for, right? Well, not for the first 2000+ years of its invention. Let’s get down to business about umbrellas to celebrate today—National Umbrella Day.Good for rain and good for shine, get your umbrella out today!

So, if not for protection from rain, what else would they be using umbrellas for? They were originally designed to provide shade, actually, working as a sort of personal canopy. In fact, the word ‘umbrella’ comes from the Latin word ‘umbra’ which means shade. These types of umbrellas are typically called parasols nowadays.

Umbrellas are thought to have been around for more than 4000 years as shown in artwork and artifacts from ancient civilizations like Egypt and China.

It wouldn’t be until the Victorian Era (or, more accurately, just a couple decades before the Victorian—around 1780) that umbrellas with wooden frames came on the market in London with the intention of keeping consumers dry in wet weather. But they were expensive and difficult to fold when wet which posed an obvious problem.

However, by 1852, a man named Samuel Fox introduced the steel-ribbed umbrella to the world which allowed for much simpler means of collapsing the canopy. From there, umbrella production has run amuck of different styles and different means of making umbrellas collapsible and even retractable.

Everything from umbrellas whose canopies collapse straight down to fully collapsible spring-loaded umbrellas that retract into themselves to become small enough to fit inside a handbag—umbrellas have exploded in their varied styles, fashions, and even purposes! We don’t offer umbrellas, but you can stay dry with our excellent rain gear selection. Browse it by clicking here and, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


Yes, Ma’am, Snowman

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Hey, Snow Builders!

Like baking sugary treats, singing seasonal songs, and warming up by the fireplace, building snowmen is one of those iconic wintertime activities that you just have to This jolly character seems to show up every winter!participate in at least once a year! It always ends up feeling good to get out and move around in the snowy outdoors and—if the snow is made in the right conditions—roll up a man made entirely of snow!

It’s nothing new. Snowmen have been crafted out of the frozen precipitation for many, many years. But just how far back does it go?The Rankin/Bass holiday special ‘Frosty the Snowman’ was made in 1954, but that hardly scratches the surface!

While nobody knows just who or when the first snowman was made, we know we have to go back much more than 64 years to get there! We have to go back 165 years to find the earliest known photograph of a snowman. It was taken by a Welsh photographer named Mary Dillwyn in 1853. The original of this photograph sits in the collections of the National Library of Wales.

This nontraditional snowman was made from many years ago!But just because this is the first known photograph of a snowman certainly doesn’t make this the first snowman ever created! But where photography fails us, we look to artistic depictions in historical documents. Author, Bob Eckstein, who wrote ‘The History of the Snowman’ shows strong implication of snowmen from medieval times. Based on illustrations from museums, art galleries, and libraries from Europe, Mr. Eckstein claims to have traced snowmen back to      l                                                                                          l1380!

So the next time you enjoy building a snowman, be mindful of the fact that you’re practicing a fun, seasonal activity that children and grown-ups alike have been doing for centuries! If you’ve got the right kind of snow for it, get outside and start packing that wet stuff together! You’ll have a man that’s made of snow before you know it! Enjoy your time outside in the white, fluffy world and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John