National Ding-A-Ling Day is one of those uniquely American inventions. It’s sort of a two-fer holiday where you touch base (preferably by phone — hence the playful reference to “ding-a-ling”) with friends or family you may have lost track of during the year. You also get a free pass to be just a little bit weird for the day. National Ding-A-Ling Day always takes place on December 12 but you can think of it as a second Halloween!
NATIONAL DING-A-LING DAY TIMELINE
2000 BCChinese bells were firstThe first bell ever invented dates back to ancient China.1800sBell ringing went beyond ceremonial useIn both England and the U.S., it was a popular practice for groups of people to get together to make music using bells.1891Salvation Army first used bell ringersWhen we think of bells, an image may come to mind of the Salvation Army — which first used bell ringers in San Francisco to attract donations to the red kettles that provided money for the poor.1972It started with a free adFranky Hyle of Illinois, started a new tradition when he placed a free ad in "Chase’s Calendar of Events" — recruiting people interested in spending one dollar to join a club to phone forgotten loved ones.
FOUR RING-A-DING-DING FACTS ABOUT BELLS
They were flat in early EgyptIn Egyptian antiquity, bells were flat and hit with a metal gong during worship of the god Osiris.
They were ceremonialHindu and Buddhist religions used bells to signal worshippers to service.
They pealed during funeralsSaint Bede started the practice of ringing bells for funerals in England.
They can be hugeThe Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower (University of Birmingham in England) is the tallest stand-alone tower in the world at a height of 360 feet.
They're big in Russia tooThe Tsar Bell in Moscow ranks as the largest bell in the world, weighing a whopping 400,000 pounds.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL DING-A-LING DAY
It started out as a clubLegend has it that the idea for National Ding-A-Ling Day evolved during a group conversation about people being friendlier and staying connected with loved ones. Somehow the term “ding-a-ling” came up — defined as “one who hears bells in his head." Soon, millions of people were touching base on December 12 (or "ding-a-linging" because iPhones weren't invented yet) with contacts they hadn't spoken to throughout the year.
It's a day to let your freak flag flySometimes people show a more bizarre side of themselves on National Ding-A-Ling Day (as if some folks actually need a day to be crazy...just sayin’). Ding-A-Lings (absolutely not the same as "dingbats") may be wearing some kind of weird headgear or walking backwards. You get the idea: National Ding-A-Ling Day is your time to be "special" for just one day.
It makes us think of bellsNational Ding-A-Ling Day is synonymous with the sound of bells. It could be the classic "old phone" sound on your cell, or it could be the sound of an incoming text or, crazier still, a ding-a-ling could be the actual sound of a bell. The main idea is that bells alert us and remind us to do something important. This year, make that something be an actual phone call to someone you haven't spoken to for a long time.