Did you just roll your eyes at the idea of the bent little piece of metal known as the paper clip should have it’s own holiday? Have you ever worked in an office? If not, we can see how you might not get it—and that’s alright, we’re about to explain everything to you. But if you have, you know exactly where we’re coming from—and don’t worry, we have some interesting information for you, too. So let’s get on with National Paperclip Day, shall we?
History of National Paperclip Day
The first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the Samuel B. Fay in 1867 in the United States. Originally, the paper clip was designed for attaching tickets to fabric, although the patent recognized that it could be used to attach papers together. However, that model of a paper clip did not resemble the one we know today all that much. The paper clip as we know it was most likely designed by Norwegian inventor Johan Vaaler.
Years later, during World War II, the paper clip was used as a symbol of the Norwegian resistance to Nazi German occupation. Meant to show solidarity with other Norwegians during those difficult times, paper clips were worn in coat lapels by many. The Nazis saw this show of solidarity as a threat, and they soon prohibited paper clips altogether, threatening people who dared wear them with severe punishment. In fact, an enormous paper clip over a meter wide and five meters tall was erected in Sandvika, Norway, to remind people about the role this tiny object played in the nation’s history.
You have to admit you never thought paper clips had such an interesting history, don’t you? Starting in 2015, National Paperclip Day is now celebrated every year on May 29th.
How to celebrate National Paperclip Day
Everyone knows that paper clips can be used to hold papers together. But did you know how many other things can be done with them? This National Paperclip Day, maybe take a little time to find out just how many other things you can do wit them, and how many uses there are that you just never thought of. To name but a few examples, paper clips can be used:
- As emergency key chains (they’re really built almost the same as a normal key chain!)
- As emergency zipper tabs (few things are more irritating than being locked inside your jacket!)
- As DIY fish hooks (because we sometimes run out of authorized equipment, and the fish won’t care as long as there’s a worm!)
- As emergency hair barrettes (sometimes you just need to get that hair out of your face!)
- To hang ornaments whose little stringy thingies have torn (colored paper clips could actually add some color to the tree!)
- As lottery ticket scratchers (for those times when you just got your nails done and don’t want all that gray gunk under them!)
- To unclog narrow holes, like a spray can nozzles, salt and pepper shakers, glue bottle tips, etc.
We could go on, but you get the idea—and feel free to come up with some of your own, too! Paper clips are one of the most versatile little bits of metal ever made, so let’s get celebrating National Paperclip Day!
Watch “Paper Clips“
Another way to observe National Paperclip Day is to watch Paper Clips, which is an American documentary film that was released in 2004. It was directed by Elliot and Fab Berlin, with Joe Fab producing and writing the film. It is the perfect film to watch on this day, as it is about the Paper Clips Project. This is a project whereby a middle school class aims to collect six million paper clips in order to represent the six million Jewish people who were killed by the Nazis.
It really is an amazing story. It involves Whitewell Middle School of Whitwell, Tennessee. The principal of the school, Linda M. Hooper, asked David Smith – the Assistant Principal – to find a voluntary project for after-school that would teach children about tolerance. David Smith started a Holocaust education program alongside Sandra Roberts, with classes beginning in the fall of 1998. Once the students started to learn about the Holocaust, they could not believe the sheer scale of it. They asked the principal if they would be able to collect something that could represent the lives that were lost because of this tragedy.
Mrs. Hooper said if they were able to locate something that was linked to WW2 or the Holocaust, they could. So, the students embarked on some research, and they discovered that a Norwegian, called Johan Vaaler, designed a loop of metal. They also discovered that paperclips were worn on the lapels of Norwegians during WW2 as a silent protest against Nazi occupation. Because of this, the students decided that there would collect six million paper clips as a representation of the six million Jewish people that were believed to have lost their lives while Adolf Hilter was in charge of the Naxi government.
The project did not receive a lot of attention in the beginning. However, it started to snowball after two journalists who were born in German during WW2 discovered the project: Peter and Dagmar Schroeder. The film explains this beautiful and heart-warming story, and it has won a number of awards as a consequence. At the Rome International Film Festival in 2004, it was awarded the Best Overall Film, Best Director, Best Original Score. The National Board of Review also awarded it an NBR Award for Top Five Documentaries in the same year. So, if you have not watched this film before, we definitely recommend watching it on National Paperclip Day.
Read some interesting facts and stories
Another way to celebrate National Paperclip Day is to simply do a bit of research and digging online for some interesting facts and stories. You may think that paper clips are boring, but you would be surprised! In fact, one man from Canada – Kyle Macdonald – actually managed to swap a red paperclip for a property. He did this by completing a number of trades online, each time swapping his item for something more valuable. So, he started by swapping his red paper clip for a pen shaped like a fish, and so it continued, until he actually ended up with a house!