World Sauntering Day
The Delights of the Malmaison - A saunter through the park in 1804 by François CourboinBrown University Library

World Sauntering Day 2014 is held to encourage people across the globe to slow down, take things easy and enjoy life for a change.

The holiday, also known as International Sauntering Day, is held on 19 June every year after first being created in the 1970s by W.T. Rabe.

History of World Sauntering Day

In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) in 2002, Rabe's son John narrated how his father came up with World Sauntering Day at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan in response to the increasing popularity of jogging.

He believed the day should encourage people to stop moving so fast and stop to enjoy the world around them.

"Sauntering, as my father would say, is going from point X to point Z which means you don't care where you're going, how you're going or when you might get there. The idea he said was to smell the roses and to pay attention to the world around you," John Rabe said.

Rules of World Sauntering Day

Rabe explained there are some rules to follow when sauntering about on World Sauntering day.

"They are very loose rules. Wear comfortable clothing. Never saunter with a small dog. And finally don't saunter with a dog so large the lady you're with can't carry it in her arms ... it's being pointless on purpose."

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, where the first World Sauntering Day was held Drdpw

How to saunter

To saunter, according to the Cambridge dictionary, is to "walk in a slow and relaxed way, often in no particular direction".

Unlike other forms of walking, including prancing, strutting and ambling, sauntering involves walking slowly with a leisurely demeanour.

While the origin of the word is unknown, it was first used in its current form in the 17th century. A description of a saunter-er was popularised in Charles Baudelaire' The Painter of Modern Life, in which he portrayed a flâneur – a man or woman who sauntered around town observing society.

"The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite."

However, Rabe said that while you can describe a saunter, it is a gift impossible to teach: "Those who are in the know on sauntering would say you're born with it. There probably is a technique but it would be useless to describe it."