Quick Facts

May 20th

Learn about Weights & Measures Day

When you start thinking about how to weight something, how do you know how to measure it?  Do you use the same measurement to measure water? What if you’re measuring flour? Does a pound weigh the same in Germany as it does in Austria?  

If you’ve ever wondered about things like this and how it all came to be, you’ll be interested to know about Weights and Measures Day. This holiday celebrates the day that the world agreed on the use of weights and measures using an International Treaty.

History Of Weights And Measures Day

20th May 1875 was one of the most important days in history as relates to international trade and the exchanging of ideas across the globe.  On this day the world came together and signed an International Treaty that meant that all the 59 states that signed agreed to use a standard system of weights and measures.

In the same moment, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established to help organize future standardizations of the measurements that the world would use.

This was necessary since throughout human history different areas used an extensive variety of measuring systems and standards.  This made trade and communication on subjects of trade difficult, and there had to be methods put in place to translate between these different systems.

As industrialization was taking place, especially with the introduction of replaceable parts, standards of measurement were necessary to bring the world together.

Some examples of old measurements involved the original foot, which was said to equal the length of a King’s foot.  There were also acres, which was the amount of land a peasant could plow in a day.

Chains were used to measure distance as well; with a chain being both an actual chain, and a length of measure.  With all these confusing measurements something had to be done. Weights and Measures Day celebrates the day that something finally was.

How To Celebrate Weights and Measures Day

The best way to celebrate Weights and Measures Day is to take some time to research the history of how we measure things.  Through your research, you’ll learn just how confusing things were before everything got standardized.

This will help you appreciate the International Bureau of Weights and Measures and what they’ve done for society.  You could also learn how measurements break down throughout the world in both the Imperial and Metric systems.