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World Fiddle Day – May 20, 2023

World Fiddle Day, celebrated every third Saturday in May, is an annual celebration of fiddle music. This year, it falls on May 20. All across the world, particularly in regions where the fiddle is popular, several events are organized and put together for World Fiddle Day. The holiday was founded by Caoimhin Mac Aoidh in 2012. The date was deliberately chosen to be the same as the anniversary of the death of legendary Italian violin craftsman Antonio Stradivari.

History of World Fiddle Day

The medieval fiddle began to show up in 10th-century Europe, deriving from an earlier instrument of similar build and purpose from the Byzantine era known as the ‘lira.’ The lira was a bowed string instrument of the Byzantine Empire and it is regarded as the ancestor of most European bowed instruments.

The first known recorded reference of the fiddle to the ancient bowed lira is in a piece of literature from 900 A.D. by the Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih, where he cited the lira (‘lūrā’ in Arabic) as a typical instrument of the Byzantines and equivalent to the ‘rabāb,’ an early variant of the fiddle played in the Islamic Empires.

The lira became notoriously popular across Europe such that during the 11th and 12th centuries, there were European writers who used the terms ‘fiddle’ and ‘lira’ interchangeably in reference to bowed instruments.

Over the centuries, Europe continued to have two different types of fiddles of which one is more or less square-shaped, held in the arms, and became known as the ‘viola da braccio,’ which translates to ‘arm viol’ and later evolved into the violin. The other type of fiddle which is handled by placing the neck on the player’s shoulders, who holds the lower part of the instrument between their knees, was the ‘viola da gamba,’ translating to ‘leg viol.’ The elegant gamba was an important instrument during the Renaissance but would eventually be replaced by the louder (and originally less aristocratic) ‘viola da braccio’ family.

World Fiddle Day timeline

900s A.D.
The Fiddle First Surfaces

The fiddle first surfaces in culture during the 10th century, as an evolution of the ‘lira’ which is an older version of the instrument from much earlier times.

1600s
Black Fiddlers Perform Publicly

During the 1600s, black fiddlers perform to audiences in New Amsterdam, New York City.

1900
John Doherty is Born

Irish folk fiddler John Doherty is born.

2012
World Fiddle Day is Created

World Fiddle Day is created in 2012 by Caoimhin Mac Aoidh, a Donegal fiddler.

World Fiddle Day FAQs

What is World Fiddle Day?

World Fiddle Day, celebrated on the third Saturday of May every year is an annual celebration of the fiddle and its music.

What is a fiddle?

A fiddle is a bowed string instrument made up of wooden components which produce sound by moving the bow against the strings in specific movements

Is a fiddle different from a violin?

No. A fiddle is a violin and vice versa. Fiddle is simply an older and more colloquial expression used to describe the instrument.

World Fiddle Day Activities

  1. Listen to fiddle music

    Listening to some fiddle music either at a concert, or online, is a very useful way of celebrating World Fiddle Day. Go ahead, get a-fiddling today!

  2. Post on social media

    Whatever you do for World Fiddle Day, be sure to share the occasion on your social media using the #WorldFiddleDay hashtag. Not only is it a great way to spread the word, but you can also meet other fiddle lovers this way.

  3. Play the fiddle

    If you play the fiddle professionally or for fun as an amateur, World Fiddle Day is an opportunity for you to display your prowess. What better way is there to celebrate?

5 Interesting Facts About The Fiddle

  1. They have existed for a long time

    The fiddle has been around for ages but only started becoming popular in the 17th century.

  2. It’s the same as a violin

    The fiddle and the violin are the same instruments.

  3. A fiddler's bow is wound with horsehair

    A fiddler's bow is wound with horsehair, while the body of the fiddle is made out of wood.

  4. Fiddles are quite strong

    Given the materials involved in making a fiddle, the instrument usually comes off really strong, hence the expression “fit as a fiddle.”

  5. It’s popular among the Irish

    The fiddle is one of the most popular folk instruments among the Irish.

Why We Love World Fiddle Day

  1. The fiddle is melodious

    The fiddle is a melodious instrument and can be used to play slow or fast, upbeat music. We love anything that we can tap our toes to.

  2. It gives the element of classical music

    The sound of the fiddle is easily associated with the age-long artform that is classical music. If you haven’t heard fiddle music before, use today as an opportunity to try it out.

  3. The fiddle is versatile

    The fiddle has a wide range and is versatile. This makes it a relevant musical instrument to contemporary music.

World Fiddle Day dates

YearDateDay
2022May 21Saturday
2023May 20Saturday
2024May 18Saturday
2025May 17Saturday
2026May 16Saturday

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