Rat Catcher’s Day is celebrated on 26th June to commemorate the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
There have been many accounts of the the Pied Piper of Hamelin. One of the most famous is the tale told by Brothers Grimm. Their version of the legend tells the story of a how a rat exterminator, dressed in multicoloured clothing a.k.a. The Pied Piper was called in to help rid the town of Hamelin of their rat problem.
Using an unconventional rat control method compared to modern day times, he blew his pipe and led all the rats out of the town and into the river where they were swept away. After completing his task, the Pied Piper returned to the town to collect his payment. This is when events turned a little sour with the Mayor of Hamelin refusing the pay the rat-catcher.
Furious with the Mayor’s decision the Pied Piper left the town of Hamelin in a bitter mood. Later that year on the 26th of June 1284, the Piper returned dressed as a huntsman “wearing a grim countenance and a wondrous red hat”. Taking his revenge, whilst the townsfolk were in church, he played his magical pipe again, but this time summoning the town’s children who were over 4 years old instead of the rats.
The legend states that the Pied Piper led the town’s children through the Ostertor gate into the very heart of the hill where they disappeared. Only two children returned to the village because they couldn’t keep up: one was blind, and the other was disabled. Some say the children were led into a cavern and reappeared in Transylvania.
The street in Hamelin were the children were last seen is called Bungelosenstrasse, which in English translates to Drumless Street. To this day, no music can be played on the street out of respect to the lost children.
In 1965 Rentokil signed a ten year contract with the City Fathers of Hamelin to sweep the town clear of rats. The fact that it took six months to clear the rats indicates just how bad the rat problem was.
To all pest control experts and exterminators around the world – Happy Rat Catcher’s Day!