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Smile Day

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat!
It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

~ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865

Curiouser and curiouser! Like the smile in the painting of the Mona Lisa, the Cheshire Cat's grin is one of the most enduring of smile imagery in literature! One of a series of Alice in Wonderland tartans, the Cheshire Cat tartan takes its colour and geometric inspiration from vintage book illustrations of this striped character who appears in the story to converse with Alice only to then fade away to just a toothy and distinctive mischievous grin. The cat sometimes raises philosophical points that annoy or baffle Alice, but provides a welcome distraction on the Queen of Hearts' croquet field, when having been sentenced to death on spurious charges, confounds the royal court by making its head appear without its body, sparking a debate between the executioner and the King and Queen of Hearts about whether a disembodied head can indeed be beheaded! ♥️ ♠️ 🐱 ♦️ ♣️

RIDDLE: What kind of a cat can grin?
ANSWER: A Catenary.

 ~ David Day, Queen's Quarterly (2010)


World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday in the month of October every year. The idea of was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, the commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts who created the iconic Smiley Face in 1963.  Apart from the ubiquitous smiley, other famous smiles include Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 

The phrase "grinning like a Cheshire cat" predates the story and is thought to possibly be attributable to cheese ormerly sold in Cheshire in the 19th century, moulded like a cat that looked as though it was grinning.  The cheese was cut from the tail end, so that the last part eaten was the head of the smiling cat.  Many other theories abound.


Designed by Carol A.L. Martin as part of her Alice in Wonderland tartan series, this tartan uses the colours of many classic interpretations of the Cheshire Cat in art. 


The Cheshire Cat is a fictional character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and is known for its mischievous grin and the perplexing advice it gives to Alice. It baffles everyone by having made its head appear without its body. 
At one point, the cat disappears gradually until nothing is left but its grin, prompting Alice to remark that 'she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat'.

For a special tribute to all of Carol A.L. Martin's Alice in Wonderland tartans, click the Cheshire Cat.

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