July 22 – Pied Piper Day

Posted on July 22, 2013

On this date in 1376, the Pied Piper piped his pipe, and all the rats in the town of Hamelin, Germany, followed the piper out of town and into the nearby river, where they drowned.

But the mayor of Hamelin went back on his promise to pay the piper for solving the rat problem, so the Pied Piper once again piped his pipe, and he led away all the children of the town—this time, away to Transylvania. And they never came back!

And all of that is just a silly nursery tale, right?

Well...it is a legend that has been adapted into a nursery story, a poem, and other formats—but part of it may have been based on a true story! Historians point out that there were horrible rat infestations in the town of Hamelin, and there are several accounts that the population of children suddenly dropped to near zero around the time of the legend—due to the plague, or a landslide or sinkhole disaster, or an ill-fated Children's Crusade, depending on the account.

All the varied reports have many different details, including different months, days, and years for the devastating event—whatever it may have been.

It all sounds grim—what a switch from yesterday's holiday, which celebrates children saving their town! Still, the holidays are celebrated in similar ways! For example, the townspeople of Hamelin reenact the exodus of children every summer Sunday at noon. This open-air play lasts 30 minutes, and it's free. There is also a musical called “RATS” every Wednesday in the middle of old town—and it lasts 40 minutes and is also free! Thousands of visitors go to the town to watch these performances (about 50,000 last summer alone).
You can also book a tour guide dressed as the Pied Piper to help you enjoy your visit to Hamelin. The Pied Piper is featured in statuary on several fountains in town, in a church window, in an inscription on what is supposed to be the piper's house, in clockwork figures on the town's Glockenspiel, and in an entire museum devoted to the tale!

Check out the famous poem by Robert Browning and this story version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest pages on July holidayshistorical anniversaries in July, and July birthdays.

And here are my Pinterest pages on August holidayshistorical anniversaries in August, and August birthdays.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. For all the glories of Robert Browning, he was misinformed. The real Pied Piper Day is the 26th of June 1284. Not that you should change your date, but rather it would be kind if you could add some information to your page:

    You may wish to link to the “Definitive” Piper Page https://legionoflegendseu.wordpress.com/pplegend/ rather than the dead link to Stuttgart. You may wish to link to our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PiedPiperDay/ or the Hamelin City website on the subject: http://hameln.de/en/thepiedpiper/thepiedpipergoingunesco/pied-piper-day/

    At least a mention of the historically correct date would be appreciated. Exterminators the world over will continue to celebrate 22 July, of course.

    Best Regards
    Michael Boyer

    Hameln Marketing und Tourismus GmbH
    Rattenfänger von Hameln
    31785 Hameln, Deisterallee 1
    Tel.: +49 [0]5151.9578-22
    Fax: +49 [0]5151.9578-7822
    E-Mail: Michael.Boyer@hameln-tourismus.de