Ring a Bell Day

Ring a Bell Day

National Ring a Bell Day on January 1 gives us even more reason to love New Year’s Day. This less-known but still fascinating festival honors bells, bell towers, bell makers, and bell ringers from all over America. Ringing in the New Year is a long-established tradition. This was a way of bringing people together to celebrate the memories of one year and anticipate goodness in the year ahead. On New Year’s Day, communities gather, with bells erupting into a melodious symphony overhead. Bell ringing has become a symbol of joy and a highly respected skill. This is particularly true in the case of ringing humongous church bells — it takes a lot of rhythm, strength, and technique to master the art and produce the peals that everyone knows and loves. What better way to celebrate these incredible instruments than with a day dedicated to the ringing of bells?

HISTORY OF RING A BELL DAY

Bells have been part of human history for many years. In the 1700s, the bell was the main means of calling people together or alerting them to news. Ringing bells announced the start of church, called family members to the dinner table, marked the beginning and end of the school day, celebrated events, proclaimed important news, and acted as a warning signal.

In the 16th century, bell ringing became very fashionable. There were regular competitions pitting local bell ringers against each other to see who would produce the best peals. This popular event was accompanied by lots of food, and the best bell ringer would walk away with a prize. These instruments are just as wonderful and relevant today as they were centuries ago. These days, bells are used to protect hikers, make announcements, cheer on sports events, call for help, call the kids for dinner, and alert bikers, among many other roles. Though bell ringing almost went extinct, this ability has experienced an un-bell-ievable resurgence in recent years. Thousands of people around the world now practice bell ringing as a hobby. There are even formal societies that honor this craft. It’s easy to see that bells and their iconic sounds have a special place in many people’s hearts.

The secondary purpose of Ring a Bell Day is to help restore bells and bell towers to their thundering glory. After all, the traditions surrounding bells are part of history, and it would be such a shame if they were left to sink into disrepair. By raising awareness about the need for bell restoration projects, this special day helps to preserve a vital part of the culture of posterity.

Ring a Bell Day
Ring a Bell Day

RING A BELL DAY TIMELINE

1 A.D. — 1000 A.D.
Calling All Believers

Early missionaries ring bells to indicate when it is time for people to attend worship.

1776
Ringing in a New Nation

People ring the Liberty Bell to celebrate the independence of America from Great Britain.

1850
An Ode to Bells

The famous poet Alfred Tennyson writes a poem about ringing in the new year.

2012
Bells at the Olympics

The largest harmonically tuned bell in the world is made and named The Olympic Bell.

Ring a Bell Day
Ring a Bell Day

RING A BELL DAY FAQS

Were women involved in bell ringing in the past?

In the late 19th century, women began to take up this practice, with Miss Alice White of Basingstoke being the first woman to complete a full peal in 1896.

What materials are bells made of?

Bells are often cast in bronze, an alloy of copper and tin.

Can bells be recycled?

Throughout history up to today, foundries melted and reused remnants from old bells in new castings for more economical bell-making, since copper and tin are rather costly.

RING A BELL DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Ring a bell

    The best way to celebrate this festival is by ringing a bell, of course. You can go a step further and make a bell using a small terracotta pot, a paper cup, or an empty tin can. Decorate your bell to your liking and use your instrument to ring in the New Year.

  2. Go on a bell scavenger hunt

    Bells can be found in most major cities and towns. Some are hidden in lofty bell towers, while others are prominently displayed in parks and gardens. Take some time during Ring a Bell Day to explore your neighborhood and discover the bells around you.

  3. Make a bell necklace

    Crafting a bell necklace is pretty easy. String some beads onto a cord, then add the bell at the halfway point. Continue with the beading on the other side and voila! You have your own unique bell necklace.

Ring a Bell Day
Ring a Bell Day

5 FACTS ABOUT BELLS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  1. They were considered magical

    In the Middle Ages, people thought that bells carried magic and could ring themselves on special occasions.

  2. Bells marked the end of World Wars

    The end of World Wars I and II was celebrated by ringing bells.

  3. When bells in Britain went silent

    During the reformation of 1536 in the U.K., monastic abbeys and buildings were desecrated by the removal of many church bells.

  4. The earliest bells were made on site

    In the Middle Ages, bell makers would travel from village to village, casting bells in molds near a cathedral or church because the bells were too heavy to be moved by mule.

  5. Multi-hour bell ringing event

    On March 16, 1767, a band of eight young men rang a peal of Bob Major for over six hours at Debenham in Suffolk, U.K.

WHY WE LOVE RING A BELL DAY

  1. We learn about bell history

    Bells have a rich history from ancient times. Ring a Bell Day helps us learn more about the development and use of these instruments in different countries.

  2. It brings people together

    Ring a Bell Day is all about community. The festival unites people all around the world as they musically usher in a new year.

  3. We enjoy different kinds of music

    On this day, neighborhoods come alive with the sound of music. From handheld bells to giant bells in church towers, we’re treated to an audio sensory feast.

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