World Beard Day

World history is full of odd tax schemes, including one imposed by Russian Tsar, Peter the Great on September 5 in 1698. Upon returning from a grand tour of Western Europe, the czar met the nobles for a welcoming reception. Although they suspected some changes to come, they could not have even imagined what Peter had in store for them. After embracing each one, the young Tsar took out a pair of huge scissors and began cutting off their beards. All were mortified, but obeyed.

For centuries Russian men had worn long flowing beards. Not only was it a traditional culture, it embodied Orthodox views on manhood and image. In order to enforce the new fashion order, Peter levied a heavy tax on beards. All men except priests had to pay up to 100 rubles (a small fortune in those years) annually.

However, much of Peter’s cultural revolution only affected the upper classes of Russian society. Peasants were allowed to wear beards in their villages, but were required to shave it off when entering the city or pay a one kopek coin for it.

However there is a modern take. International Beard Day, according to my research, has been held at least since 2010. It is held on the first Saturday of September and is characterised by the happiness of all people with their beards and with each other. On World Beard Day, it is customary for the bearded members of a family to relax and partake in no jobs or chores. The beardless members of the family traditionally show their support by waiting on the bearded hand and foot.

Learn more at World Beard Day.

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