September 7, 2016

Celebrate National Ampersand Day & Stuff

  • Subline: The lowly symbol for 'and' has its own day

Today we celebrate National Ampersand Day. Yes, it seems silly to declare a day to celebrate &, an innocuous shorthand for "and."

But it’s no more silly than National Hug Your Boss Day (Sept. 9), or National TV Dinner Day (Sept. 10) or National Chocolate Milkshake Day (Sept. 12). (I presume there’s a National Strawberry Milkshake Day at some point.)

Not sure where this Day Declaration ritual got started. But in the world of social media, when “feeding the beast” with content becomes a challenge, the whole thing has exploded. These are desperate times. Not a day goes by without somebody declaring National Something Day. There’s even a website devoted to the subject.

Alphabet with ampersand 1So, back to the lowly ampersand. There’s actually an interesting history to it, according to Chaz DeSimone, who declared today to be National Ampersand Day.

Here are a few factoids:

  • It’s a ligature, or a joining of letters, in this case “e” and “t.” — et being Latin for “and."
  • A couple of hundred years ago, & was actually a letter of the alphabet. It came right after “Z.” Pronounced “and per se and.” Per se means “by itself."
  • Over time, “and per se and,” ran together until it became a word, “ampersand."