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child_friendly National Beheading Day

Who doesn't like a good beheading? Observed since at least 2001, National Beheading Day celebrates, or acknowledges, or at least has something to do with beheadings—no one seems to know for sure. It is also unknown why the holiday takes place on today's date, although a beheading of a notable person took place on this date in 1685, so there's a good chance that might have something to do with it. Hold onto your heads for more.

That notable person was Alice Lisle, an English aristocrat often known as Lady Lisle, who was from the county of Hampshire. She has the distinction of being the last woman to be executed in England by a judicial sentence. She was put to death for harboring fugitives following the Monmouth Rebellion. For one night, she sheltered John Hickes, a Nonconformist minister and member of the defeated Monmouth army, as well as Richard Nelthorpe, at her residence, Moyles Court. The two visitors were arrested the following morning. Lisle initially said she didn't know they were there, but she was charged with harboring traitors, sentenced to death, and beheaded with an axe publicly in the Winchester market-place.

Beheading has existed for thousands of years. The "capital" in capital punishment, capital crime, and capital offense comes from the Latin word caput, which means "head"—the phrases meaning that a head must be given up for the most serious crimes. Throughout history, many people of note besides Alice Lisle have been beheaded. Some of these include Charles I of England, King Louis XVI, Marie Antionette, Sir Walter Raleigh, John the Baptist, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Also, multiple British nobles were beheaded at the Tower of London.

Beheading is deliberate decapitation—when the head is compleletey separated from the body—either by murder or execution. Beheading is carried out with an implement such as an axe, sword, knife, machete, chainsaw, or guillotine. An executioner is often called a headsman. A few countries still allow executions by beheading, but Saudia Arabia is the only that regularly does it. In recent times, murder by beheading has been carried out by terrorists.

How to Observe National Beheading Day

Here are some ideas on how to spend the day:

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