"Take off your hat," the King said to the Hatter.
"It isn't mine," said the Hatter.
"Stolen!" the King exclaimed, turning to the jury who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
"I keep them to sell," the Hatter added as an explanation; "I've none of my own. I'm a hatter."
Lewis Caroll, Alice In Wonderland, 1865.
How did it start?
Observed annually on the 6th day of October, Mad Hatter Day celebrates the Hatter within everyone. The holiday was first introduced in 1986 in Boulder, Colorado by a group of computer programmers. They had celebrated a day of silliness by hearing top hats, imitating the Mad Hatter character of Lewis Caroll's fantasy novel, Alice In Wonderland; as seen in the book illustrations made by Sir John Tenniel.
Sir John had depicted the Hatter wearing a hat with a piece of paper that has 10/6 written on it. The 10/6 referred to the cost of the hat, 10 shillings and 6 pence. However, the creators of the holiday used it as a date reference; being from the U.S. they went with their date format of month/day and finalised the 6th day of the 10th month as the reciprocated day of the Hatter.
The news about the holiday spread wide through the BSS system; a bulletin board system that connected computers via a terminal program (enabled users to chat, exchange software, and play games). By 1988, the day had received considerable press coverage and was announced as an official holiday.
Mad Hatter: "Have I gone mad?"
Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland: Based on the Motion Picture Directed by Tim Burton
The Term Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter is a popular term to express a personality trait; one whose ability to do anything is highly suspected. In the corporate world, it refers to an ill-equipped leader or CEO of a company who exhibits poor decision-making skills, incompetency and misguided motives.
In the Medical World, the Mad Hatter Syndrome aka Erethism is a neurological disease developed for mercury poisoning. It was peculiar to the hat-making industry of the nineteenth century. They used a mercury solution to cure felt. Thus, the workers were continuously exposed to mercury fumes; a situation aggravated by poor ventilation in workshops. The indicative symptoms were trembling, loss of coordination, memory loss, slurred speech, depression, anxiety and irritability. All literal definitions of Lewis Caroll's Mad Hatter!
Keeping aside the fact that the term, 'mad hatter' had seeped its way into varied fields, this day is to be celebrated by engaging in silly activities; a fun holiday. Air Your Inner Hatters; Let The Child Out. Embrace Your Colours. Be As Mad As The Hatter!
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