Ringing bells is a hugely important part of cultural life across the world, and they are used for all sorts of different purposes. Bells are rung to signal religious practices, and some churches and cathedrals still ring out the hours with their great iron bells. The end of the two major World Wars was celebrated by ringing bells. People ring bells to summon their family for dinner, to celebrate marriages, and to mark cultural occasions from street parties to festivals.
Bell ringing has become a mark of joy, and also an incredibly appreciated skill. Particularly when it comes to ringing the great church bells, it takes a great deal of strength, rhythm, and technique, to master the ability and produce the peals everyone knows and loves.
Once almost extinct, this ability has had a resurgence, and thousands of people now practice bell-ringing as a hobby? From this alone, it’s easy to see that bells, and their sounds, have a place in the heart of almost everyone. What better way to celebrate these marvelous items than with their very own day dedicated to the ringing of bells?
Learn about Ring a Bell Day
In 1850, the famous poet Alfred Tennyson wrote this:
“Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
Of course, he was talking about the infamous tradition of ringing in the New Year with bells. This tradition dates back centuries, back to when a single clocktower would have been the way for every inhabitant of a town to keep track of the time, and indeed the year!
Though the importance of these central bell towers has somewhat faded over the years, the sound of ringing bells continues to symbolize togetherness, inspiration, collective potential, and the idea of fresh starts. Bells are particularly used to celebrate old memories and welcome in new, hopeful times. They have religious connotations from their church usage, but they are by no means defined by this context.
Ring a Bell Day is all about celebrating the cultural importance of bells in all our lives. By ringing bells on this special day, the idea of community and hope for the future is symbolized. Moreover, Ring a Bell Day has a secondary purpose; to help restore bells and bell towers to their loud, celebratory, thundering glory. After all, these traditions are part of history, and it would be awful if they were allowed to sink into disrepair. By highlighting and raising awareness for the need for bell restoration projects, this special day of the year helps to preserve a vital part of culture into posterity.
History of Ring a Bell Day
The history of bell ringing is long and impressive. Small handbells have been used since as early as 400AD, with early missionaries ringing them as a sign it was time for people to attend to their worship. In the middle ages, bells were one of the loudest sounds people could make, so they were used to warn communities of oncoming armies and attacks – because of both these uses, bells were even thought to have supernatural powers! People thought that bells were magic and could ring themselves on special occasions.
The use of bells became greater and greater through the 16th century, and churches found new ways to hang them that allowed the bell-ringers greater control over their sounds. It actually became very fashionable, and great competitions were held as local bell-ringers tried to ‘outdo’ each other and produce the best peals. The bell-ringing was a popular event accompanied by lots of food, and the best bell-ringer would be presented with a prize.
In modern times, bells were silenced during World War II, only to be used if signaling an actual invasion of enemy troops. Luckily, they were never used! Now, bells are celebrated as they should be, and during the Olympic Games in 2012, the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world was made and called The Olympic Bell.
Ring a Bell Day is a modern festival to honor the incredible history of bells and their cultural importance across the world. It involves ringing bells and raising awareness of the need to restore many old and valuable bells that have fallen into disrepair. The day has a charitable and community focus, and it is set up to be celebrated within communities, and for anyone who has fallen in love with bells and bell-ringing.
How to celebrate Ring a Bell Day
There’s one simple way to celebrate this day – ring a bell! This can be anything, including the smallest dinner bell that you have in your home. However, there are also plenty of events and free activities that are available for everyone to attend and help celebrate bells.
On Ring a Bell Day, a simultaneous 20 minutes of bell ringing is organized, ensuring that anyone can get involved. Gather with friends and neighbors, get a community group together, and head to your local church or bell tower – making sure to check they’re taking part first, of course. The festival organizes many free events, concerts, and performances to mark the day and celebrate it with a bang (or should that be a peal!) so have a look at what’s occurring in your local area and get involved.
If you’re feeling really keen and want to integrate the love of bells into your life, you can even take up a bell-ringing course and learn how to operate these incredible pieces of musical machinery yourself. Bell ringing is a great exercise, a way to express yourself, and an amazing skill for anyone to master. If you’ve ever looked at a huge bell hanging in a clock tower and wished you could make it chime, learning how to ring bells is the perfect hobby to take up. It will also mean you’ll be able to celebrate Ring a Bell Day with the best of them, as you ring your bells out across the land.