NATIONAL HOBO WEEK
National Hobo Week is observed in August in conjunction with the National Hobo Convention. The National Hobo Convention is held on the second weekend of every August since 1900 in the town of Britt, Iowa, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, and known throughout the town as the annual “Hobo Day” celebration. Hobos set up their own camp (known as a hobo “jungle”) during the convention and peddle their wares and entertain the public. The National Hobo Convention is the largest gathering of hobos, rail-riders, and tramps who gather to celebrate “the American traveling worker.” The week-long celebration includes a parade, food, arts and crafts, and entertainment, with the high point is the naming of the “King and Queen of Hobos.”
A common misconception about hobos is that they do not work. Many hobos have a trade skill and were essentially traveling workers. They should not be compared to tramps who travel and don’t work, or bums, who don’t travel or work. Hobos are still out there and are not a thing of the past.
Among the most fascinating aspects of hobo culture is the language. You might want to consider brushing up on your hobo lingo before you head to the annual convention. Here are some of the most common of examples:
- BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN – hobo heaven, or paradise, immortalized in song.
- BIG HOUSE – jail.
- BULL – security guard.
- CAMP REFRIGERATOR – hole dug in the ground to keep food cool.
- HOBO HIEROGLYPHICS – set of symbols used in hobo culture to communicate among themselves. The symbols can indicate anything from the availability of food and a place to sleep, to imminent danger of one form or another.
- JUNGLE – hobo campsite.
- REEFER – refrigerated boxcar.
- WESTBOUND – a train a hobo dies on.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalHoboWeek
Plan to attend the National Hobo Convention. You could also research famous hobos such as Leon Ray Livingston, T-Bone Slim or Alexander Supertramp.
Use #NationalHoboWeek in social media.
Educators and Parents, check out the National Day Calendar Classroom for more ways to Celebrate Every Day!
NATIONAL HOBO WEEK HISTORY
In our research, we were unable to determine the origin of National Hobo Week.