Originally written on August 13, 2021. Updated 2023
International Left-Handers Day is today, August 13!
It was started by the Left-Handers Club on 13th August 1992, when they launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere could celebrate their sinistrality and increased public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. According to other sources, the day was first observed in 1976 Campbell, founder of Lefthanders International, Inc.
But, in any case, this event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there have been more than 20 regional events to mark the day in recent years, including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide “Lefty Zones” where left-handers creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, while right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment.
Years ago, some teachers insisted that all children, including left-handers, learn to write with their right hand, as they thought that students would have an easier time if they were not “different” from “regular” right-handed writers.
Moreover, some thought that using the left hand was just a bad habit, and others even slapped or punished left-handed kids who had trouble.
Of course, now we know that everyone should use whichever hand is most comfortable and today, 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population is left-handed.
Thus It’s not surprising that lefties sometimes feel “different.”
However, in many cultures and countries, being a left-hander is thought to be unnatural. In eastern countries like India or in the Middle East, left-handedness is thought to be rude, and in the UK, too, left-handed children were once forced to use their right hands.
While this is still contested, studies have found that artists like painters, musicians and even architects are mostly left-handers.
But did you know that there are lot of superstitions and odd terms regarding left-handedness?
First, many people believe that the devil is left-handed and, not by chance, the Latin word for left, sinister, also means unlucky, evil, and suspicious.
But the French word for left, gauche, also means clumsy.
A left-handed baseball pitcher is called a southpaw. (And no, there’s no such thing as a northpaw!)
But Left-handers have an advantage in some sports: they are usually good when in a one-on-one face-off. In games like baseball, boxing, fencing and tennis, but also volleyball (especially with left-handed opposite hitters!), they often have an edge over their right-handed opponents who are used to playing with right-handed players mostly.
Left-handers have also typing advantages: on a QWERTY keyboard, they can type over 3,000 English words by solely using the left hand.
But only around 300 words can be typed with the right hand alone. And in fact we’ll notice that the most typed letters are towards the left side of the keyboard.
It sounds good, but why are some people left-handed and others right-handed?
Not even scientists aren’t sure what causes left-handedness.
It seems that genetics plays a role, but it’s not the whole story: for example, identical twins have the same DNA, but it is common for one twin to be right-handed and the other to be left-handed.
Interestingly, many left-handers have a symmetrical brain, meaning that the left and right portions of their brain are shaped alike.
Right-handers often have an asymmetrical brain, and their left cerebral hemisphere is often larger than the right cerebral hemisphere.
Left-handers use the right side of the brain more.
The human brain is cross-wired: its right half controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Hence, left-handers use their right side of the brain more than right-handed people do.
But did you know that left-handers recover quicker after a stroke?
The left side of the human brain, which is used a lot by right-handed people, controls our language function. Therefore, strokes on the left side of the body, tamper with the language of a right-handed person. But left-handers depend lesser on the left side of the brain. Hence, they can recover their language abilities faster after a stroke.
No matter the shape of your brain, or the hand you favor.
Eight United States presidents were left-handed, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
And would the Sistine Chapel and the Mona Lisa stand the test of time if Michaelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci had been right-handed?
But now some fun facts.
Did you believe that a full-page ad in USA Today in 1998 claimed that Burger King had developed the “left-handed whopper”?
The burger had the same appearance, but they were turned 180 degrees so that they wouldn’t drip out on left-handed customers. But It was a joke, as the ad ran on April 1 (April Fools’ Day).
Exist also an unincorporated community in southeastern Roane County, West Virginia, called Left Hand, where there is a church, a school, and a post office. However, the village was so named because it sits on the left-hand fork of the Big Sandy River, not because of the way its citizens write.
A few left-handers attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania have benefited from a scholarship just for left-handers established in 1979 by Mary and Frederick Beckley, two left-handers who met when they attended tennis class together in 1919.
In any case, If you’re right-handed, try writing or brushing your teeth with your left and, If you’re left-handed, with your right. You’re likely to find these activities surprisingly difficult!
Images from web – Google Research (and volleytimes.com)