Have you ever wandered through a wet meadow or grazed your hand on to the sands of a pond's shore to find those green critters we all refer to as frogs? And did you ever think just maybe if you could catch one of those amphibious darlings you could win some money? Well if you've had any of these country living experiences you are on your way to becoming Mark Twain and should most likely participate in a frog jumping competition near you. Here's how National Frog Jumping Day became an American pastime.
Origins of Frog Jumping Day
In 1849 Calaveras County, California established National Frog Jumping Day and direct origins are uncertain at this time. However, in 1865 a southern American writer and satirist known as Mark Twain or by his birth name, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, published in the New York newspaper Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog and later changed the title to The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. In this short story the gambling man, Jim Smiley, who bets on things such as horse races, dog fights, and the minister's wife's health, decides he will educate a frog, Dan’l Webster, how to jump perfectly and catch flies. Smiley uses Dan'l Webster to earn money against unbelieving locals.
Rules for Jumping Frog Contests
The frog's ability is judged on three attempted jumps and has three minutes to complete all of them. Children must place their frog at the center of a target. Frogs cannot be touched after they're placed but the human participant can cheer, stomp, and clap without touching the frog. Touching the frog will disqualify the child. The winner of this fierce leaping competition is the frog with the longest jump out of the three jumps. Winners sometimes are compensated with money. Typically participants range from ages 7-and under but sometimes15- year-olds like to show their frog cheerleading skills.
How to get started
With your parents' permission grab a box from your garage, basement, or washing room, grab yourself a little net, put on those hiking boots and head to the nearest pond, park stream, or farmland meadow with water holes and find yourself a classy looking frog to beat your family, friends, or neighbors. And if you have no access to any of those things check out Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog short story or read some of Loconeal Publishing's Celtic Kids series by Regina M. Geither.
by Ryan D. Friend