Okay, so this is really a thing, apparently.
At first it seems, well, silly. National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day? Really? But when you delve into the proverb we all know so well, it starts to make a little more sense. After all, a modern version of it would be something akin to “don’t sweat the small stuff.” And whose life wouldn’t be made just a little bit better with that little attitude adjustment, right?
So back to the spilled milk thing (this IS a Dairy site, after all).
Why and when did we start using this curious expression? Well, it turns out that we’ve been using it for a long time – more than 350 years, in fact. It seems that it first turned up in print in a book of proverbs by James Howell in 1659, though we have no way of knowing if he actually coined it or was simply the first to write it down. (Howell was also responsible for the classic saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and the not-so-classic, but equally true, “A hungry man is an angry man.”)
It makes sense, though, when you think about it.
Back in those days, milk was produced – literally – by hand, requiring a lot of hard work. So spilling it would have been a pretty serious situation. After all, if you’d just spent half an hour filling a milk pail only to have Flossie the Cow kick it over, you’d be pretty upset, right? But the thing is, once it’s spilled…it’s gone. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So there’s really no sense in expending energy being upset over something that you cannot change. You can only learn from the experience and try to see that it doesn’t happen again.
The wonderful thing about the expression is its widespread appeal.
You don’t even really need to understand milk or its importance to get what it means. It just makes sense intuitively. Which is probably why we’re still using it three-and-a-half centuries later.
So let’s celebrate National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day with a positive attitude and doing our best to not sweat the small stuff.
But, seriously, do try your best not to spill any milk…especially delicious, nutritious Hiland Dairy Milk. Always pour with a steady hand, and put that cap back on tight before you return the jug to the fridge!