Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This Day in History

I'm a fan of odd facts, sometimes called factoids. Not the mainstream, what everyone-and-their-cousin thinks is important, relevant, valid, and pertinent.
The other kind of facts.

The New York Times has a feature called “This day in history.” Unlike most reasonable people who read the headlines first, I go to this feature and immediately zero in on the least known most golly-gee item regarding something that happened on this calendar day a few or many years ago.

There are fantastic stories hidden in these factoids. I don't even care if they actually happened. If I never write about that particular item, it still has the effect of jump-starting the storyteller in me.

For example, February 10th. That’s today.

Many important things happened on this day in history. Some of them are even mentioned by the NYT, and more can be found on the Internet. Significant people were born and died on this day, and treaties were signed while others were violated. Yada-yada-yada.

But what caught my imagination was something that happened four-hundred and eighty years ago.
On February 10th, 1535, twelve nude Anabaptists ran through the streets of Amsterdam.
I have a brother who lives in Amsterdam. He would likely say that twelve nude folks would not raise an eyebrow there today. But in 1535 I suspect there was a whole lot more to the story than an attention getting prank. Apparently they were shouting, “Truth is naked!” and paid for this act with their lives. Running naked in Amsterdam wouldn't even get you fined today.

See what I mean? There is a story there. 


  1. What a story--I can see why it caught your eye!

  2. I've always loved this feature in the newspaper as well! It never occurred to me I could Google it, since I no longer get a newspaper. Do you remember when streaking was a thing? Funny that people did it 400 years ago! Well, definitely more interesting and less life-threatening than a hunger strike.

  3. My husband always tells a fascinating fact at dinner ... and everybody tries to top him! Today, it is the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes. Happy Sigh.

  4. How interesting! I wonder if this story might be a little too racy for a picture book? ;-)

  5. Truth IS naked. Funny, think it was last week or so, there was a news feature on a guy who ran naked in Singapore. (Yep, lots of public reproach and perhaps a warning or a fine if the guy is ever caught ...)