CLOSE

What's With All the Mustaches? The Origins of Movember

Forster Forest / Shutterstock.com

Movember, like many other brilliant ideas, was born of a drunken, meandering conversation in a bar. It was 2003, in a pub in Adelaide, Australia. A couple of friends were talking about the cyclical nature of style and wondered why the mustache hadn't made its glorious return, Quetzalcoatl-like, to the mainstream.

They decided that the 'stache, or Mo, as the Aussies call it, deserved revival. They talked to a few more friends and made a plan. Thirty guys would leave their upper lip untamed for one month. They didn't raise money or have a cause—they just wanted to get a few more Mos out into the wild and see who could grow the nicest one. They started growing November 1st, so a name change for the month seemed obvious and appropriate.

The next year, they wanted to do it again. Prompted by all the attention their lips had gotten the first time around, they wondered if they could use their Mo growth as a force of good. They knew that men, particularly old-school macho types, did not get regular health checkups and sometimes even ignored signs of a medical problem. So they decided to use Movember to raise awareness, and maybe some cash, for men's health issues.

They discovered Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and learned that one in every six men would get prostate cancer during his lifetime. One in 36 would die from the disease. Behind lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, but, at the time, it didn't make headlines as much as other cancers. It was a very male-centric, relatively unknown problem that could use some good, manly Mos behind it.

That November, 450 guys, called the Mo Bros, grew 'staches and asked their friends and families to sponsor their growth. By the end of the month, they'd raised $55,000 and gave it to the PCFA. It was the largest single donation the foundation had received at the time.

By now, Movember is a global phenomenon, with guys from six continents participating. We imagine there's at least a few flossers or friends of flossers who took part this year, and we'd love to see your Mos. If you or someone you know is a Mo Bro, leave us a link to a photo in the comments (and the amount of dough you raised, if you like to brag).

twitterbanner.jpg

nextArticle.image_alt|e
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What Is the Meaning Behind "420"?
iStock
iStock

Whether or not you’re a marijuana enthusiast, you’re probably aware that today is an unofficial holiday for those who are. April 20—4/20—is a day when pot smokers around the world come together to, well, smoke pot. Others use the day to push for legalization, holding marches and rallies.

But why the code 420? There are a lot of theories as to why that particular number was chosen, but most of them are wrong. You may have heard that 420 is police code for possession, or maybe it’s the penal code for marijuana use. Both are false. There is a California Senate Bill 420 that refers to the use of medical marijuana, but the bill was named for the code, not the other way around.

As far as anyone can tell, the phrase started with a bunch of high school students. Back in 1971, a group of kids at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, got in the habit of meeting at 4:20 to smoke after school. When they’d see each other in the hallways during the day, their shorthand was “420 Louis,” meaning, “Let’s meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 to smoke.”

Somehow, the phrase caught on—and when the Grateful Dead eventually picked it up, "420" spread through the greater community like wildfire. What began as a silly code passed between classes is now a worldwide event for smokers and legalization activists everywhere—not a bad accomplishment for a bunch of high school stoners.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios