February 28 – International Sword Swallowers Day

Posted on February 28, 2015

Every year, on the last Saturday of February, the Swords Swallower Association International celebrates its special day in conjunction with Ripley Entertainment.

(You know, the people who do the Ripley's Believe It Or Not stuff.)

Sword swallowing is of course not actually swallowing. Instead, sword swallowers actually inhibit the urge to swallow in order to keep the passage from the mouth to the esophagus to the stomach open as the sword is lowered and then raised again.

According to Wikipedia, sword swallowing is dangerous, and there is risk of injury.

Really? Passing a sword down your esophagus to your stomach is dangerous? Who knew???

(I think I would NOT want to be a sword swallower in a place prone to earthquakes!)

Sword swallowing started in southern India thousands of years ago. It spread to ancient Greece and Rome, and also to ancient China and Japan. It became part of street performance in some places, and theatre in other places, along with other ancient entertainments such as tightrope walking, fire eating, and juggling.

Eventually sword swallowing became part of circus acts and side shows. Apparently sword swallowers kept trying to one-up each other—curved swords, multiple swords, longer swords, hot swords, bayonets, even neon tubes!

Guess how many deaths have resulted from all that competitive sword swallowing? (Answer below the photos:)

Just twenty-nine deaths have been reported as a result of sword swallowing injuries in the last 135 years. So sword swallowing, it turns out, is way safer than, say, traveling anywhere by any means (plane, train, automobiles, bicycles, or even roller skates)!

Still, it's something I just don't get. I wouldn't want to learn it OR watch it, even if the act was free. And—needless to say—don't try this at home!

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