Dr. Hurlbutt's Highly Peculiar Online Calendar

May 2011

(International Business Image Improvement Month)

May 1: Long a festive occasion in many European cultures, featuring flowers and dancing and maypoles, May Day was adopted as a socialist labor holiday around the turn of the twentieth century. It would later become a major event under the Communists, who tended to beat it rather firmly into the ground, with parades of tanks on Red Square, exhortatory speeches, and similar nuisances.

May 2: Seemingly oblivious to appearances, Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera and External Affairs Minister Joe Walshe visited the chief Nazi diplomat in Dublin in 1945 to express their condolences on the death of Adolf Hitler. Irish President Douglas Hyde paid his respects in turn the following day. The leaders of the world's other neutral nations wisely declined to follow suit.

May 3: Washington, D.C., was incorporated as a city in 1802.

May 5: The first U.S. train robbery took place at North Bend, Ohio, in 1865.

May 6: "We have had triumphs, we have made mistakes, we have had sex . . ." - Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush on the campaign trail in 1988, alluding to himself and President Ronald Reagan. Apparently the vice president intended to say that he and the president had endured setbacks.

May 9: In a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters in 1961, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton N. Minow, denounced television programming as a "vast wasteland."

May 10: In Nix v. Hedden, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1893 that from the standpoint of the tariff act of 1883 the tomato must be considered a vegetable, although botanically it is in fact a fruit.

May 12: The U.S. Commerce Department (home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) announced in 1978 that hurricanes would no longer be given exclusively female names.

May 13: Friday the Thirteenth. It has been estimated that superstitious fear of this day costs some $900 million in cancelled travel and unconducted business.

May 14: National Windmill Day (Netherlands). On the second Saturday of May, many Dutch windmills display blue pennants to show they are open to the public. The day is also National Cycling Day in the Netherlands, which presumably works out well for visiting the windmills.

Multilingual Mother's Day

May 15: Mother's Day (U.S., Canada, and many other countries). Days honoring motherhood are widely observed around the world, with the second Sunday in May being by far the most popular. It is a traditional occasion for card-giving.
          Mother's Day became popular in Germany during the 1920s. The Nazis, however, seized upon the holiday in the 1930s to promote traditional notions of womanhood along with an aggressively pro-natalist population policy. Thus on Mother's Day in 1939, they introduced the "Cross of Honor of the German Mother" (Ehrenkreuz der deutschen Mutter) to be awarded to particularly prolific women (assuming the candidates were racially and politically acceptable). Like Olympic medals, the crosses came in bronze (for women with four or five children), silver (six or seven), and gold (eight or more). Hitler was an enthusiastic advocate of the "Mothers' Cross," millions of which were ultimately awarded. Among the German public, however, the medal was sardonically known as the "Order of the Rabbit" (Kaninchenorden) based on that animal's formidable reputation for fecundity.

Vintage cartoon of a mother rabbit with sixteen bunnies.

May 16: The Kuwaiti parliament approved women's suffrage in 2005. Four years and one day later, the first four Kuwaiti women (all of them with doctorates from American universities) were elected to parliament.

May 17: In its war on Bosnia-Hercegovina, the Serb-led Yugoslav Army wantonly shelled the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo in 1992, utterly destroying the latter's irreplaceable collection, including 5,263 manuscripts, some dating back to the Middle Ages, more than 300,000 archival documents, and the Institute's extensive research library.

May 18: In 1896, voting seven to one, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, a precedent that would stand for one day shy of fifty-eight years, until overturned by Brown v. the Board of Education on May 17, 1954.

May 20: Feastday of St. Aquila. In A.D. 311, during the reign of Emperor Maximinus Daia, Aquila was martyred with iron combs in Upper Egypt.

May 21: The United States National Lawn Tennis Association was founded in New York in 1881. "National" was dropped from the name in 1920, "Lawn" in 1975.

May 22: The strongest earthquake ever measured (9.5 on the Richter scale) hit southern Chile in 1960, killing thousands of people and launching a tsunami that killed hundreds more in distant Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan. The Puyehue volcano, not far from the epicenter, began erupting two days later.

May 23: World Turtle Day. First declared in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, World Turtle Day celebrates these endangered reptiles.

May 26: Emily Cecilia Duncan became Britain's first female magistrate in 1913, some five years before women received limited suffrage in that country.

May 27: Achsah Young was executed as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1647, the first recorded instance of such a killing in the New World.

May 29: The unconventional rhythms, dissonances, and choreography of Igor Stravinsky's groundbreaking ballet Le Sacre du Printemps provoked a riot at its world premiere in Paris in 1913, drowning out the orchestra.

May 30: Memorial Day (U.S.). Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday was established shortly after the Civil War as an occasion to decorate Union graves. Former Confederate states set up various competing Confederate Memorial Days, which are still observed in some southern states. As time went on, the scope of the holiday expanded to include all American war dead. Since 1971, the federal holiday has been observed on the last Monday of May, rather than the traditional May 30.

January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December

While Archelaus reasonably believes the contents of this calendar to be accurate, it disclaims
all liability for the consequences of any action undertaken in reliance upon said contents.