October 6 is a day set aside each year to bring out your silly side while celebrating National Mad Hatter Day. The day was chosen due to the label tucked in The Mad Hatter’s hat band that read “In this style 10/6”.
The fictional character, The Hatter or The Mad Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is typically acting silly, and that is how the creators of this day decided on their theme of silliness for National Mad Hatter Day. Sir John Tenniel illustrated The Mad Hatter and all of Lewis Carroll’s colorful characters beginning in 1864. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865.
In 1986 some computer-folk in Boulder, CO celebrated a general day of silliness, inspired by the drawings don by Sir Tenniel. It was announced that year on computer networks, becoming more popular as people realized its value – some people did less damage by celebrating silliness than if they had done their jobs.
In 1988 it was first recognized as an official holiday and received its first national press coverage.
“Mad as a hatter” is a colloquial phrase used in conversation to refer to a crazy person. In 18th and 19th century England mercury was used in the production of felt, which was used in the manufacturing of hats. People who worked in these hat factories were exposed daily to trace amounts of the metal, causing some workers to develop dementia caused by mercury poisoning. Thus, the phrase became popular as a way to refer to someone who was perceived as insane.
Taking our inspiration from The Mad Hatter, or any of Carroll’s characters for that matter, we may pursue laughable, absurd or even confusing adventures on National Mad Hatter Day. Break out from the usual routine. Ask ridiculous riddles much like The Hatter’s own, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Play croquet with plastic pink flamingos or wear a funny hat to work. Throw a tea party, just don’t forget to, “change places!”
Did you know Lewis Carroll, a pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodson once answered The Hatter’s riddle? In the 1896 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll wrote as part of his preface, “Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!”