On February 25th, Sword Swallowers around the world will celebrate World Sword Swallower’s Day by doing what they do best — Swallowing swords!
Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) President Dan Meyer announced the 6th annual World Sword Swallower’s Day to raise awareness of sword swallowers around the world. Founded by SSAI and co-sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, World Sword Swallower’s Day is set for February 25th in conjunction with February as National Swallowing Disorders Month.
In celebration of the 6th annual World Sword Swallower’s Day, more than 20 sword swallowers are expected to “drop swords” at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums on Saturday, February 25th at 2:25pm.
“We sword swallowers have been risking our lives to perform sword swallowing for over 4000 years,” explains Meyer. “But many people either don’t believe it’s real, or they think the art has died out.”
“We established World Sword Swallower’s Day to promote this ancient art still being carried on by a few dozen surviving practitioners, to raise awareness of the medical contributions sword swallowers have made in the fields of medicine and science, to honor veteran performers, and to raise funds for esophageal cancer research and the Injured Sword Swallower’s Relief Fund.” Meyer explains.
“Most of all, we do it to correct myths and educate the public and medical professionals by doing demonstrations for the public and media around the world.”
“Many of us have been performing for years, and we love our work,” explains Meyer, a muliple Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Guinness World Record holder. “World Sword Swallower’s Day is a great opportunity for us to show the medical community and the public what we really do!”
“Most people don’t realize the contributions sword swallowers have made to medical science over the past 150 years.” Meyer explains. In 1868, a sword swallower was enlisted by Dr. Adolf Kussmaul in Freiburg Germany to develop the first rigid endoscopy. In 1906 a sword swallower was used for the first esophageal electrocardiogram in Wales.
Sword swallowers have been prodded and examined by doctors and medical colleges without recognition over the past 150 years.
“We want to change all that. That’s why we’re observing World Sword Swallower’s Day.” Meyer explains.
In 2006, the British Medical Journal published the first international medical study of the art entitled “Sword Swallowing and its side effects”. Co-authored by Meyer and Dr. Brian Witcombe, the two-year research study was historic as being the first serious medical research in the 4000 year history of sword swallowing. The study won its authors the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine at Harvard University.
Since some sword swallowers perform charitable work for the medical community to raise awareness of esophageal cancer, dysphagia, GERD, and other upper gastro-intestinal and swallowing disorders, SSAI encourages sword swallowers to put on demonstrations at medical facilities throughout the day. Sword swallowers will also perform at hospitals, nursing homes and orphanages for those who would otherwise have difficulty getting to theaters to see live performances.
“The sword swallowers who participate in these activities find them rewarding,” explains Meyer. “Many people who have never had the opportunity to see sword swallowing will finally have a chance to witness it firsthand.”
“Why is Ripley co-sponsoring it? “Because it’s great entertainment!” said Tim O’Brien, VP of Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc. “Sword swallowers and Ripley go way back to the very first Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, set up at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. There, three performers, two of whom were ladies, mesmerized the huge crowds. Ripley’s has been home to sword swallowers around the world ever since.”
On February 25th, sword swallowers will perform around the world at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums including London, New York City, Hollywood, Orlando, St. Augustine, Panama City, Branson, MO, and Gatlinburg, TN.
“Most of us usually perform alone,” Meyer says. “World Sword Swallower’s Day gives us all a chance to work together to be part of something bigger.”
“It’s a huge honor for us to carry on the tradition of sword swallowers who have performed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums over the years.” Meyer explains. “In light of this, SSAI is extending an open invitation to sword swallowers around the world to contact us and join us in swallowing swords at Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums on the 25th!”
Performances are scheduled to take place on 2/25/12 at 2:25:12 pm local time.