On 13th August 1992 the Left-Handers’ Club launched International Left-Handers’ Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.
This event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there have been more than 20 regional events to mark the day in recent years – including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide “Lefty Zones” where left-handers’ creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!
Stone Age implements discovered seem equally divided between left and right and studies of cave drawings have indicated a preference for the left hand. When tools became more sophisticated, a clear hand preference emerged. In the Northern hemisphere you have to face south to follow the sun and move from left to right until the suns sets in the west. This gave moving to the right and the right-hand side a great significance. Another theory says that as the heart is on the left hand side, a shield would have to be in the left hand to defend it and any weapon therefore had to be held in the right, which became the dominant hand.
Christianity is strongly based towards the right hand. It is the right hand that gives the blessing and make the sign of the cross. On one count, the bible contains over 100 favourable reference to the right hand and 25 unfavourable references to the left hand.
Left-handers have been linguistically abused for centuries! There are hundreds of terms for left-handers. There are a lot of sayings where “right” is good and “left” is bad e.g., “being in your right mind”, “the divine right of kings”, it will be all right in the end” as against being “left out”, having “two left-feet”, “a left-handed compliment” (one that is not really meant!).
Forming about 10% of the population, left-handers have achieved greatness in many walks of life, but particularly in creative, sporting and artistic fields – Barack Obama, Leonardo da Vinci, Escher, Paul Klee, Morgan Freeman, Lady Gaga, Pablo Casals, Matt Groening, David Bowie, Annie Lennox and Michael Stipe to name but a few.
“I scan the room. Catherine is writing quickly, her light brown hair falling over her face. She is left-handed, and because she writes in pencil, her left arm is silver from wrist to elbow.” — Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants”.
From a gauche cack-handed editor