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“Przekrój” Magazine brings English-speaking readers some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in the fields of wellbeing, art, literature, science, ecology, philosophy, psychology, and more. Take a break from the speed and intensity of the daily news and join us!

Our eternally pessimistic correspondent gives his historical highlights for the month of October.
2022-10-01 00:00:00

October in History
Diary of an Eternal Pessimist

October in History
October in History

October in history according to an eternal pessimist.

Read in 6 minutes

1st October 1977

The famous Brazilian footballer Pelé retired, having scored a total of 1281 goals. What really matters, however, is that he never scored one against Poland!

2nd October 1971

During a homing pigeon race in Australia, one carrier pigeon achieved a record speed of 133 km/h. Perhaps it would be a good idea to hire pigeons in today’s post offices to improve their efficiency?

3rd October 1992

The Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II during her live television performance. The artist did it in protest against the Vatican papering over paedophile scandals in the Catholic Church. The gesture caused a scandal. But it wasn’t nearly as upsetting as the discovery that there were many more cases to discover…

4th October 1705

Stanisław Leszczyński was crowned the King of Poland. He did not get to enjoy it for long, though, and lost the crown just a few years later. Then, he reclaimed it. And then lost it once again. And in the end, he died.

5th October 1582

The day that never happened in Poland. Due to the introduction of the Georgian calendar, the date was instantly moved to 15th October. That’s some proper time travel! And nowadays, people still whine about the clocks going an hour forward or backwards twice a year.

6th October 891 CE

On this day, Pope Formosus was elected. The poor man had made so many enemies that after his death, they brought his remains back from the grave, had the corpse sit through the trial in court, and then maimed it after the so-called Cadaver Synod.

7th October 1976

ABBA came to Poland. Mamma Mia! What a crazy time. Sadly, never to be repeated.

8th October 1818

Boxers began using protective gloves. And yet, they were still allowed to hammer away at each other’s heads.

9th October 1976

Polish drivers were happy to start using the freshly-built motorway route connecting Warsaw with Katowice that was opened the day before. And to think that they still have to be happy with it to this day…

10th October 1903

Suffragette activist Emmeline Pankhurst established the Women’s Social and Political Union to fight for British women’s voting rights. 15 years later, men would reluctantly agree to grant women the rights they demanded, but not before labelling suffragettes a brood of hysterical extremists.

11th October 2014

Polish footballers defeated Germany for the first time in history with a final score of 2:0. We are unsure whether it’s something to celebrate – perhaps we should all just sit and complain that it took them so long.

12th October 1810

In Munich, the first Oktoberfest in history was organized as a celebration of the royal wedding. The October drinking revelry turned out to be such a roaring success that it was moved back a month and became a yearly fixture in the German calendar of festivities.

13th October 1987

A bunch of exceptionally clever dolphins appeared in the Persian Gulf. They were so smart that they could even communicate with humans! Too bad they were actually trained by the American army to participate in military operations.

14th October 1926

Alan Alexander Milne published Winnie the Pooh. Poor little bear! Little did he know he would end up becoming the ultimate merch material. If he did, he would have probably locked himself up in his little home forever.

15th October 2005

The only UFO Memorial in Poland was unveiled in Emilcin, to commemorate the strange events of 1978. The farmer Jan Wolski claimed to have met aliens at that location. The aliens must have been of a cosmically rude kind; they didn’t even bother to attend the unveiling ceremony.

16th October 1869

Farmworkers in Cardiff, New York, accidentally discovered the fossilized remains of a three-metre-tall man. Even though it turned out to be a hoax, searching for giants has become one of the favourite pastimes of our American friends – they are looking for Bigfoot to this day.

17th October 1740

Empress Anna of Russia died. And to think that just a year before she had enough imagination to have an ice palace built in St. Petersburg for Prince Golitsyn and an exceptionally unattractive servant she made him wed. Well, she didn’t get to laugh for long.

18th October 1812

In the burned-out city of Moscow, Napoleon was unsuccessfully waiting for peace proposals from his defeated (as it seemed to him) opponent, Tsar Alexander I. But he would wait in vain. Discouraged and frightened by the coming winter, Bonaparte would order a retreat. Too late! Not much would be left of the Great Army.

19th October 1955

The last Soviet soldier left Austria. One week later, the country announced perpetual neutrality. Well, tit for tat. Quite a few countries from the Eastern Bloc would have liked to have done just that.

20th October 1967

Bigfoot was caught on tape in a forest in California. Many people believe it was not a hoax. Clearly, they hadn’t paid much heed to the story of the Cardiff Giant.

21st October 1520

Ferdinand Magellan set out to the Pacific Ocean with his fleet. He was the first European to achieve such a feat! Quite an enviable achievement, until we remember he never came back alive. Was it really worth all the fuss?

22nd October 1964

Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He refused to accept, claiming that he would not be “institutionalized” by anyone. However, the philosopher’s critics say he just wanted to become even more famous on the back of such scandal.

23rd October 42 BCE

Mark Antony and Octavian defeated a group of conspirators responsible for murdering Julius Caesar in the Battle of Philippi. The victors did not celebrate too long before engaging in another war, this time among themselves.

24th October 1975

On this day, Icelandic women did not go to work and refused to do any household duties. This way, they wanted to protest against the lack of gender equality. Men got quite scared, especially when the shops ran out of sausages – it was the only food they knew how to cook for dinner without help.

25th October 1956

Hitler was officially announced dead. Did it really take so long to identify his body once and for all? Must have been some kind of conspiracy!

26th October 1881

There was a shootout between the gunslinger Wyatt Earp and a few criminals in the town of Tombstone in the Wild West. The fire exchange did not take long, but it was enough to provide inspiration for numerous Hollywood productions for many decades to come.

27th October 312 CE

Before the battle that would make him emperor, Constantine the Great was said to have seen a luminous cross in the sky, accompanied with a message that said: “In this sign conquer.” From that moment onwards, he allied with the Christians. Some would even say he was a real saint.

28th October 1989

During an interview at the Dziennik Telewizyjny news station, actress Joanna Szczepkowska said: “Ladies and gentlemen, on the fourth of June 1989, communism in Poland ended.” Not everyone noticed, though.

29th October 1618

The famous explorer and former favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh, was executed by beheading in London. Well, being a royal favourite is not a permanent position at the best of times. Especially when the crown changes hands and the new monarch turns out to not be very sentimental.

30th October 1973

The first transcontinental bridge across the Bosporus was opened. It was easier to build an actual bridge between Europe and Asia than to try to understand each other.

31st October 475 CE

Teenage Romulus became the leader of the Western Roman Empire. Due to his young age, critics mockingly dubbed him the Baby Emperor (Augustulus). He was not respected, and after less than a year of his reign, the empire fell. It all started with Romulus, so it was only fitting to end things on the same note.


Translated by Aga Zano

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