June 17th World Juggler’s Day

Juggling has been around since man can remember. Cavemen probably juggled dinosaur eggs as they ran from the nest they took them from (what else did they have to do, they had no internet). Kings and Queens in the Medieval times were highly entertained by juggling, if for no other reason than if the juggler wasn’t all that good, they could put them to death.

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According to James Reid, a professional juggler, The International Jugglers Association (IJA) founded World Juggler’s day, always the Saturday closest to June 17th, in the 1980’s. There is also an International Juggler’s Day in April but that’s to be expected, since they have to juggle the days they celebrate (wink).

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Today jugglers are associated most with the circus and birthday parties. A good juggler can juggler up to ten items at one time. Those items can be balls, clubs, swords, rings, flaming sticks, plates, chainsaws, jobs, girlfriends, boyfriends, relatives… well you get the idea. This explains why I am not a good juggler because I have a hard enough time with one item at a time.

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It’s really all just a matter of concentration, good eye sight, soft hands, good balance, years of practice, being bored out of your mind and having nothing better to do, shopping with kids, a natural desire to show off… and so on.

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How to celebrate – Buy a book on juggling and learn how to juggle. Go to a Medieval festival and watch the jugglers.  Try and balance your checkbook.

December 9th National Weary Willie Day

Clowns have been a part of our culture for as long as most can remember. They are the comic relief in circuses, rodeos, and are often sent in to cheer up the sick. Until recently, most clowns have been good-natured characters. Red Skelton is well known by those who grew up as television developed. Bozo always tried to make children laugh. But the most famed clown ever is probably Weary Willie, created by Emmett Kelly in 1898.

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Willie grew to great popularity during the depression. His character was always sad and no matter how bad life got for those during the late 20’s and 30’s, life for Willie always seemed a little sadder. He could bring a smile to one’s face when they had little to laugh about. He always appeared in his typical white face, bright colored clothing, and performed his goofy, sad activities somehow making others feel better about themselves.

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When Emmett Kelly grew too old to perform anymore, his son, Emmett Kelly Jr. took over and kept the spirit alive until 2003 when Jr. passed away as well. Now we only have the images left to remind us that not all clowns are bad, scary, or threatening.

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I can’t help but think how sad Willie, and Emmett, would really be if they knew how our society has changed the nature of a clown. At a rodeo, a clown saves lives by getting in the way of a charging animal that has thrown a rider or some innocent that happens to be in the way. At a circus, they are there to make young and old laugh and forget their troubles for a while. And if you have ever seen Robin Williams in Patch Adams you will see how a clown can lighten the load of those who are sick.

Henry Fonda and Emmett Kelly Dressed as Clowns

Now clowns are feared. They are associated with bad things and the rash of weird trespassing Halloween clowns have left everyone afraid of them. It just goes to show how distorted the world is becoming, when we can take something created in fun and turn it into something to be feared.

How to celebrate – Try and remember clowns as a good thing, not something bad. Watch old videos of Emmett Kelly and Emmett Kelly Jr.. Visit a clown school, if you can find one.