September 2 – Bison-Ten-Yell Day

Posted on September 2, 2013

Today's “holiday” is pretty goofball. It's supposed to be the bicentennial birthday of a fictitious person. “The bicentennial birthday” means the 200th birthday—so we would imagine that the birthday boy or girl was born in 1813...but in this case EVERY year is the bicentennial birthday.

It's all one giant (and bad) pun – Bison-Ten-Yell, said just right, sounds a lot like “bicentennial.”

Anyway, since the birthday boy or girl is fictitious, he or she never really existed. In other words, she or he was never actually born. I guess that makes it okay for him or her to have a different birth date every year!

Now, why on earth do we celebrate the bicentennial birthday of a person who never existed? Today is supposed to honor the person who invented ten verbal signals that could be yelled during a war to alert one's soldiers to the battle plan. Ten signals, yelled signals—these are the reasons given for the “Ten-Yell” part of the name. Let's just hope the battles weren't fought against bison! They're really big and scary!

The soldiers had to memorize the meaning of each signal. Obviously, a commander yelling something that everyone could understand wouldn't be very effective—because then the enemy would know the plan, too! So the soldiers on one side would be taught their signals, and the soldiers on the other side would be taught their completely different signals. And everyone hoped that the enemy didn't figure out their playbook.

You know who uses a system like this? Football players. (I'm talking American football here, with helmets and tackling and a bullet-shaped ball.) Have you ever heard a quarterback shouting things like “Blue 32” or “Red 24” just before a play starts? Those are the special signals that each team creates and memorizes and sometimes changes—and that each team hopes the “enemy” doesn't crack!

The yelled signals can be longer than the examples I gave.

How about this one:

Right. Y-Mo. 3, 15 O.P. Naked right arrow F. Pump!”

The meaning of the yells can be complicated. A lot of yells are nonsense, and some of the yells are attempts to throw the other side off, confuse them, trick them. For example, a quarterback will often say, "hut, hut, hut," and he knows that the center will give him the ball on the third "hut." But maybe the quarterback and center agreed to snap the ball on the fifth "hut." The quarterback may still emphasize the third "hut," as if he's doneas if that were the "hike the ball" signal. If someone on the other team is faked out, he may surge forward at least for half a second--and get a penalty!

Some of the yells are real information. A certain color may mean, "We're going to stick with the play we discussed in the huddle." (Sticking with the play discussed in the huddle is most common, by the way.) But another color may mean, "Listen up! We're going to change the plan!" 

After such a signal, a common call is a number that means a particular playsuch as the halfback sweeping left, catching a lateral pass, and running through a hole created by the linebackers. 


If you like football, you may want to play it today or watch it tonight.

Or grab a pen and some paper and devise a signal code for battles, football, or any activity at all!

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the installation of the first ATM

Anniversary of the cancelation of Star Trek

Anniversary of the last day of the Julian calendar

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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