More About International Town Criers Day

Town criers do not get enough attention, or the recognition they are due, which is why the first International Town Criers Day was founded in 1997 by a town crier himself — Scott Fraser, of Waterloo, Ontario. Despite the importance that his vocation held, Fraser discovered that there was no official day to celebrate his job, and that of many before him, which is why he decided to establish one. Since then, International Town Criers Day aims to bring this profession into the limelight, in order to highlight how town criers have contributed to societies and the importance of their role in disseminating essential information to the general public. The earliest town criers can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, where heralds would be sent to announce the onset of war. Fun fact, the word ‘stentorian’ (meaning ‘loud and powerful’, relating to voice) comes from the name of a Greek town crier named Stentor, who was said to have had the “voice of 50 men.” In medieval England, town criers were essential in keeping the general populace apprised of important news and current affairs, and they would begin their cry with the words “Oyez, oyez,” which roughly translates from French to ‘hear ye, hear ye.’ Every country had its form of a town crier before the invention of newspapers and the spread of literacy. Thus, the job of the town crier was prestigious because they had to be literate and were responsible for ensuring that people were made aware of important news. Sometimes these officials were the bearers of bad news and therefore needed protection from crowds that would want to ‘shoot the messenger.’ So laws were passed that declared it treason to kill a town crier. In fact, the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” stems from the command to protect town criers.

Date & Time

July 11, 2022

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