I think I like the idea of International Sauntering Day for more than a few reasons. One point is simply the word, “sauntering”. It’s fun to investigate the etymology of arcane words that modern people rarely use in conversation. The word, in its present form, intuitively appears older than it actually is.
To saunter dates back to the 1600s. But the word’s roots may, indeed, go back further. Saunter apparently comes from the Middle English word “santren”, which has obscure, fuzzy beginnings in the Anglo-Norman period.
What does it mean? Well, basically, to take a leisurely walk or a stroll. In common usage, you might say, “The young woman is sauntering through the park.” That’s enough history and meanings of the word, because I don’t want to strain myself today. I just want to saunter through this special day.
As I suspected, the art of sauntering was practiced and perfected during the Victorian era. Some more famous saunterers include Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pablo Picasso was fond of sauntering as he pondered his creative options. Social revolutionaries enjoyed the art as they physically and mentally meandered through life’s problems. Think of Gertrude Stein or Oscar Wilde, for example.
Some of the world’s old, traditionally planned cities have special areas just for sauntering. I can think of reserved places of silence and contemplation in certain neighborhoods of Paris. Why do you think we associate romance and pleasure with the grand city of lights?
Most other cities and towns, that come to my mind have nothing like that in comparison.
Motor transport of some sort is how westerners go from point A to point B. Alternately, we will purposely, and soberly walk briskly from one place to another. Recreationally, folks tend to run, jog, or speedwalk in the interest of becoming more physically fit.
In contrast to all the rushing about, sternly going from place to place, we have sauntering. That is the informal, casual act of walking aimlessly, happily, and slowly. You might recall a casual stroll through a nature preserve. You didn’t bring a camera. You didn’t stop to read the descriptive signs of plant life. There was no educational purpose for the stroll. You just plain enjoyed being in the outdoors, breathing in the surroundings. What a way to travel, eh?
So, why and how did International Sauntering Day get started? Sometime in the 1970s, W. T. Rabe at Mackinac Island, Michigan invented the concept when he was the Grand Hotel’s public relations director. The hotel has a 660 feet long porch, the world’s longest. Rabe sought to counter the new American pasttime of jogging. He believed that joggers were only partly right about getting into the great outdoors.
However, joggers needed to slow down and “smell the roses”. Now, those of us world citizens in the know, celebrate International Sauntering Day each June 19th.
I think this is just about enough wording for today’s relaxed meandering through the world of bluejayblog. Happy Sauntering Day!
The Blue Jay of Happiness, notes that Rabe may have selected this date because today is also Juneteenth. https://bluejayblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/happy-juneteenth/