Mermaid Day is observed every year on March 29. It’s for lovers of the fabled creature that’s appeared in literature, mythology, music, films, and pop culture for a long time. It’s the day to let one’s imagination run wild and indulge one’s fascination with this aquatic creature. Is it true that they exist, or is it a work of fiction? Whatever the solution, the ocean’s depths are filled with inexhaustible mysteries — it is simply the big unknown. It’s now time to learn about their ancient origins, history, and cultural significance around the world.
History of Mermaid Day
The first existence of mermaids in human culture traces back to 1000 B.C. in Assyria, now known as Syria. In their mythology, the fertility goddess Atargatis became a mermaid after throwing herself in the lake to escape the grief and shame of killing her lover. The mythology explores how Atargatis was so beautiful that she couldn’t fully transform herself into a fish; rather, she retained her feminine shape and beauty above the waist, but her legs were completely transformed into a fishtail. The Greek Mythology then expands on the story from the Assyrian Myth, which included the stories of sea nymphs, also known as Nereids, and mermen, also known as Tritons. The original Assyrian description of mermaids was manifested in the Greek Sirens but was rewritten as having wings like a bird rather than having a tail like a fish. However, the Romans trace the origin of the mermaids in Assyrian mythology by keeping their original description: gorgeous, fairy-like women with fish-tails. This became the standard interpretation of mermaids up to modern times.
Despite being universally accepted as a product of fiction from its long line of varied mythologies, several historians recorded sightings of actual mermaids in the ocean. One of them is Christopher Columbus, who reportedly saw three mermaids. However, he claimed that they weren’t as beautiful as described in the mythic stories. Other accounts of sightings include English pirate Edward Teach (also known as Blackbeard).
In modern times, the concept of mermaids has fully penetrated pop culture all across the world. From Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Little Mermaid” to its regular depictions in films and television, mermaids are indeed a product of human curiosity and fascination with the great unknown.
Mermaid Day timeline
The first mermaid in human culture is first introduced in Assyrian mythology as Atargatis.
The first artistic depiction of a mermaid is found in the Norman Chapel in Durham Castle, England.
The alchemist, Paracelsus, publishes “A Book on Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies, and Salamanders, and on the Other Spirits.”
The world-famous statue of a mermaid is built in Copenhagen, Denmark, based on Hans Thomas Andersen’s fairytale.
Two reservoir workers in Zimbabwe reportedly see mermaids, who hounded them away from the site.
Mermaid Day FAQs
What are sirens’ powers?
According to myth, sirens are known for their ability to shapeshift.
Is the original story of “The Little Mermaid” different from the Disney version?
Yes, the unabridged version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” in 1837 features darker themes like suicide and murder.
Where do mermaids live?
Mermaids live in the sea and ocean. But other stories depict mermaids inhabiting rivers and lakes.
Mermaid Day Activities
Host mermaid-themed parties
Mermaid-themed parties are perfect for kids and kids at heart. This event is perfect for little girls who want to dress up as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” complete with red hair and a fishtail, with the movie playing on repeat in the background.
Read your favorite books about mermaids
If you’re a bookworm who’s equally fascinated by mermaids, then there’s not a better way to celebrate this holiday than by burying your nose in books. From Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” Greek and Roman Mythologies, to countless pop fiction, today’s the day to open up your imagination through the words on the page.
Spend a day on the beach
You may not be Ariel herself, but there’s no harm in pretending to be her for a day. Grab your mermaid-themed swimwear, hit the beach, take lots of photos, and post them on social media using the hashtag #MermaidDay.
5 Interesting Facts About Mermaids
Four kinds of mermaids
The four kinds of mermaids that existed in literary history include traditional, selkies, shape-shifters, and merfolk.
The myth about mermaid tears
According to myth, it’s been said that mermaid tears turn into a gem called “aquamarine” that is used by sailors for healing and protection.
Mermaids are described to have beautiful voices
Mermaids are said to have beautiful singing voices, as depicted in the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid.”
The most common type of mermaid
The most common type of mermaid often depicted in stories is the Oceanid kind, where they only live in the sea.
The mermaid is Starbucks’ biggest symbol
According to Starbucks creative director Steve Murray, the mermaid is the company’s biggest symbol, other than its employees.
Why We Love Mermaid Day
It opens up one’s imagination
The concept of folklore and myths opens up one’s imagination. The creativity of a person all starts with curiosity and fascination, and the ambiguous existence of mermaids propels their creative juices that manifest into writing and art.
Playing dress-up is fun
Just like Halloween, Mermaid Day gives people a license to dress up in costumes. It’s a fun day where everyone can get creative with arts and crafts.
Mermaids are L.G.B.T. icons
Just like gender-fluid individuals, mermaids are seen as half-women and half-others. They are celebrated in the L.G.B.T. community as icons for transgender people, cisgender people, and bisexuals.
Mermaid Day dates