Tomorrow is International Left-Handers Day. Yes, international. This is some serious stuff. None of this vague ‘national day of…’ business which never actually specifies which nation they are referring to (though it’s probably the US).
To celebrate our left-handed friends – or ourselves, as the case may be – here are some interesting facts about all things left.
- The ancient Celts worshipped the left because they associated it with femininity – the source of all life.
- The ancient Greeks thought similarly, and believed that baby boys were conceived by “seed” from the right testicle, while baby girls were conceived from the left one. Some prospective fathers went so far as to tie off one testicle to ensure the gender of the resulting offspring.
- Coincidentally (or not), as well as femininity, left-handedness was also associated with weakness, immorality and evil.
- Though interestingly, men are more likely than women to be left-handed.
- The word “sinister” derives from the Latin word sinestra which originally meant left, but later took on meanings of evil or unlucky.
- During the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Church would condemn, and sometimes execute, those who used their left hand
- In Islam, it is believed that the right hand should be used for honourable purposes (e.g. eating, shaking hands, writing) whereas the left hand should be used for unclean but necessary acts (e.g. toilet hygiene).
- It is thought that wedding rings are worn on the left hand to ward off evil.
- A more romantic theory from the Romans is that the vein in the ring finger on the left hand runs directly to one’s heart (since debunked by science).
- in ancient Japan, any wife shown to favour her left could be legally divorced on the spot, no further explanations required.
- A back-handed compliment (i.e. a criticism disguised as a compliment) is also known as a left-handed compliment .
- Famous left-handed people include Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Jimi Hendrix, Marie Curie, Leonardo da Vinci and Prince William.
- Tennis champion Rafael Nadal is a left-handed player, despite being naturally right-handed.
- Two rights don’t make a left (well, 98% of the time anyway). Two right-handed parents have only a 2% chance of making a left-handed child.
- On a keyboard, there are around 1400 English words typed solely with the left hand, whereas only 187 are typed solely with the right.