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Did you know that watermelon is 92% water? No wonder it’s so refreshing! People have been digging into this tasty, juicy fruit for millennia and it all started in Ancient Egypt. It’s said that watermelon cultivation began in the Nile Valley as early as the second millennium B.C. Watermelon seeds were even found in King Tut’s tomb! On August 3, we celebrate this ancient berry in a feast of juicy deliciousness—otherwise known as National Watermelon Day.
When is National Watermelon Day 2021?
There’s nothing like beating the heat with summertime’s most refreshing fruit, celebrated on National Watermelon Day on August 3.
History of National Watermelon Day
The juicy, refreshing watermelon deserves its own day, that’s why we celebrate National Watermelon Day. Cultivation of this fruit dates back to 2000 B.C., with the first watermelon harvest on record occurring approximately 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Traces of watermelon and its seeds have been discovered on sites of the 12th Egyptian Dynasty, including in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Paintings of different types of watermelon have also been found in ancient Egyptian inscriptions.
The sweet fruit we enjoy today is the result of mutations over the course of a thousand years of cultivation. Watermelon seeds were sold to traders passing through the trade routes in the Kalahari Desert in Africa. From there, the cultivation of the watermelon spread across Africa. The origin of the progenitor of the watermelon was in Africa, after which it spread into Mediterranean countries and other parts of Europe. By the end of the ninth century, watermelon cultivation became common in China and the rest of Asia.
According to “The Dictionary of American Food and Drink” by John Mariani, the word ‘watermelon’ first appeared in the English dictionary in 1615. The watermelon is commonly known as a type of melon, but it is not in the genus Cucumis. The outer rind of a watermelon is dark green with yellow stripes or spots. Over 300 varieties of watermelon are available in the U.S., ranging from red to white, and come in different shapes and sizes.
National Watermelon Day timeline
The watermelon has long inspired artists, such as Giuseppe Recco's “Still-Life with Fruit and Flowers.”
In his novel “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson,” Mark Twain describes the watermelon as “what the angels eat.”
Seedless watermelons are developed by treating the un-pollinated flowers of watermelons with an acid.
The Guinness World Record for the heaviest watermelon ever is grown by Tennessee-based Chris Kent.
Traditions of the Day
Watermelons are enjoyed in all shapes, sizes, and colors on National Watermelon Day. Delightfully sweet and tasty, they are the go-to fruit for summer. No picnic is complete without watermelons. Best enjoyed outdoors, watermelon-eating contests and seed-spitting contests are a tradition. As they consist of 90% water, smoothies, sherbets, cocktails, and other beverages are concocted from watermelons, today, and desserts featuring watermelon as the main ingredient are also prepared.
Learning how to pick a ripe watermelon is an art and a tradition. Many people utilize National Watermelon Day as an opportunity to educate themselves or others on how to tell whether a watermelon is ripe.
National Watermelon Day FAQs
What is the best month to buy watermelons?
Typically, the best time to buy watermelons is between the months of May and September.
Is watermelon available all year?
Yes, watermelon is available year-round, it’s just the varieties available that differ.
What percentage of watermelon is water?
Watermelon is 90% water.
National Watermelon Day Activities
Make a vodka watermelon
Watermelons are mostly made of water. But what if you replaced some of that water with... vodka? Organize a boozy celebration with your friends by cutting a hole in a watermelon, inserting a funnel and pouring in some vodka. The rest is... well, you probably won't remember the rest.
Create a watermelon sculpture
It's no surprise watermelons are in the same family as the pumpkin — you can carve them, too! Unleash your creativity by carving a watermelon rose, a watermelon shark or a watermelon basket. The options are endless.
Play a game of Suikawari (Watermelon Splitting)
The Japanese have watermelon splitting down to an art. In the game of Suikawari (similar to a pinata, but without the candy and paper mache), players are blindfolded, spun around three times and given the chance to crack open a watermelon with a wooden stick. But instead of candy, you get watermelon guts in your face.
5 Fruity Facts About Watermelon
You can eat the entire watermelon
Watermelon rinds are mostly discarded, but they are actually edible and full of nutrients with great health benefits.
Watermelons come in many varieties
In fact, there are 1200 different watermelon varieties but the four main classifications are seeded, seedless, yellow, and icebox.
Watermelons can grow to be huge!
The Guinness World Record for the heaviest watermelon ever was grown by Tennessee-based Chris Kent in 2013 and it weighed 350.5 pounds.
Watermelons can prevent cancer
Watermelons are a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to reduce the risk of some types of cancers like lung-, stomach-, and prostate cancer.
Watermelons are grown in different shapes in Japan
Farmers in Japan have been growing watermelons in the shape of cubes for 40 years now, achieved by cultivating them in square-shaped boxes — watermelons in the shape of pyramids, hearts, and human faces have also recently been perfected and sold as novelty products.
Why We Love National Watermelon Day
There are an endless variety of watermelons
Did you know there are more than 1,200 varieties of watermelon in the world? They range from pink to orange, large to small, round to even square! If you ever find yourself in Japan, be sure to track down its famous "cubic" watermelons.
Watermelon is both a fruit and a vegetable
Watermelons cross all produce boundaries. They are a fruit (a berry, to be precise) because they contain seeds to produce more plants. But they are also a vegetable, because they are planted from seeds and harvested like other vegetables. Watermelons are a member of the gourd family, meaning they're related to squash, cucumbers and pumpkins.
You can eat tons of watermelon—completely guilt-free
On a diet? Not to worry! Watermelons are 92% water, so you can not only dig in without feeling guilty—you can also stay hydrated on a hot summer day.
National Watermelon Day dates