A week from today will be the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. This is, apparently, a big deal. And yet, objectively, there is little difference between 18 June 2015 and ANY OTHER DAY. So why is this one day such a big deal? I appreciate that we have to celebrate centenary sometime, but… Actually, do we have to celebrate centenaries?
Because, here’s the thing, some events are more celebrated than others. The anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne has two automatic entries in my phone’s calendar, and I’m not 100% clear why. Or, another case in point, We always mark 15 March as the ‘Ides of March‘, even though that date is way off, thanks to the mismatch between Julian and Gregorian calendars. Digressing here, but the Julian Calendar was only invented in 45BC (oh, and FYI, we’re not entirely sure when that year actually happened, either), do we reckon the seer was up to date with their calendars?
‘On this day’s have become a quick way for the media to provide us with snippets of information. But can’t they do that anyway, without having to have the date connection as the hook? After all, most interesting historical snippets are devoid of any particular date context. This is that old meta-history/micro-history debate all over again. Date links only work if you understand what the significance of the event is. Millions of eventful things happen every day, but because they are part of everyday life, they don’t make it into ‘on this day’. So can we get more of those?