Today, the first Friday of December, is National Jandal Day down under in New Zealand. If you’re not a Kiwi or an Aussie, you may not be familiar with the term ‘jandal’. Well, depending where you’re from, jandals may be called flip-flops, thongs, slip-slops, zori… Basically it’s your classic, open-toe, flat-sole sandal with the Y-shaped strap between the toes, often worn at the beach or other informal situations.
Jandals have a long history, worn by the Egyptians as early as 4000 BC, as well as by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The modern-day jandal is styled on the Japanese zori that was popular with American soldiers returning home after World War II.
The term ‘jandal’ is, in fact, short for ‘Japanese sandal’, and in New Zealand it really is an integral part of the culture – Kiwis love their jandals, in summer at the beach, but often even in winter, when it feels like every uncovered part of your body is about to freeze off, you’ll see some staunch Kiwi bloke sporting his jandals, seemingly oblivious to the cold despite a somewhat bluish hue around the toe area.
National Jandal Day is a fundraising event for Surf Life Saving – a pretty good cause in a water-locked country made up of two islands, where almost all cities and towns are by the seaside. Funds raised through Jandal Day are used to train life guards, sponsor beach patrols and fund beach safety education programmes delivered to over 40 000 NZ school children each year.
Wherever you are in the world, why not slip on a pair of jandals / flip-flops in support of Jandal Day. Those in some northern hemisphere locations may be well-advised to remain inside with your jandals, to avoid losing a toe or ten through frostbite, but for those of us in the southern half of the world, rocking out in your favourite jandals at this time of year, with work winding down and the summer holidays approaching, is almost compulsory.
Locally, donations can be made by texting “SURF” to 4483 to donate $3 (and you get a song by young artist Jamie McDell for your efforts) or by donating online.