Timeline of non-sexual social nudity

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Young Spartans Exercising, depicted by Edgar Degas, Circa 1860

Prehistory - 1800[edit]

  • 170,000 BP Humans first wore clothing, a date suggested by evidence based on Lice DNA which shows when the clothing louse first began to diverge genetically from the human head louse.[1]
  • 720 BC: According to one legend, an athlete, Orsippos of Megara who discards his loincloth wins his race at the Olympic Games. A variation of the legend asserts that the loincloth accidentally falls off a runner at the Olympics who trips on it, strikes his head, and dies.[2] So for reasons of either improved athletic performance or for safety, ancient Greek Olympic athletes compete naked.[3]
  • From c. 650 BC in Sparta, both women and men occasionally went nude in certain festivals and exercise.[4]
  • 393 AD: Students in ancient Greece exercised and received instruction naked and athletes competed naked. This tradition ended in 393 AD, when the Christian Emperor Theodosius I bans the Olympic Games because he considers them Pagan.[5]
The Adamites, a Christian sect that practiced holy nudity, date back to the 2nd century AD
  • 1st century AD: Historian Diodorus Siculus records that the Celts commonly fought naked in battle.[6] Nudity is mentioned several times in the New Testament, although none of the examples give it the sexual meaning it carries today. For example, refusal to wear clothes could be a sign of insanity during this period.[7] Nakedness was also used as a symbol of poverty or vulnerability [3] [4]. There are a few New Testament references to actual nudity, such as (Mark 14:52) in which a young man runs away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane, and (John 21:7) where Peter is described as naked while he is fishing. Some say that the term means semi-naked, arguing that it is unlikely that a Jewish person would go completely unclothed in public, although others argue that fishermen in the Sea of Galilee did actually work naked [5].
  • 100 AD to 18th century - the Adamites, were adherents of an Early Christian sect that flourished in North Africa in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, but knew later revivals. They practiced "holy nudism", claiming that its members were re-established in Adam and Eve's state of original innocence.
  • 201 - 1500 AD: The first known liturgy of baptism, recorded by Saint Hippolytus of Rome in the early 3rd century, insists on complete nudity for all participants, even down to the removal of jewellery and hair fastenings [6]. Baptism was later segregated by sex, as indicated by a scene depicted on a 5th-century lead font [7], but still conducted on an unclothed participant. Christian groups, including the Adamites, Carpocrations, Aquarii, and Marcosians all practiced social nudity.[5][citation needed]
  • Cica 1050 AD: Leofric, Earl of Mercia, imposed a heavy tax burden on the citizens of Coventry, England, to support his grandiose public works. According to legend, his wife Godgyfu begged him to reduce the tax, and he told her that she had to ride naked through the city's market before he would do it. Godgyfu, remembered as Lady Godiva, accepted the challenge.[8]
  • In Kamakura era (1185–1333) Japan, religious bathing was provided to the public free of charge, with no concept of gender segregation. After the collapse of free services, a for-pay system emerged which later evolved to become the modern day sentō.

1800 - 1899[edit]

Finnish Sauna (1802)
  • 1840s: Nude bathing was common on the beaches of the United Kingdom by this decade.[5]
  • 1868: Approximate year of the introduction of the swimming-costume. Most swimming, if not all, was done naked up to this point, because wearing clothing of any sort was extremely cumbersome and thus dangerous to the swimmer.[9]
  • 1870s: The diary of Rev. Robert Francis Kilvert, documents the transition in Victorian England from the acceptance of nude bathing to the mandatory use of swimming-costumes. In an 1874 entry, Kilvert notes being brought "a pair of very short red and white striped drawers to cover my nakedness" after he had finished bathing at Seaton, and being so "unaccustomed to such things and customs" that he had "set at nought the conventionalities of the place".[10]
  • 1874: While surfing developed across Polynesia as a nude activity, it remained so only until 19th century missionaries forced the natives into covering themselves. This dress code, however, was often ignored; a British engraving from 1874 shows a set of waves being ridden by nearly a dozen Hawaiian surfers, male and female, all of them naked.[11]
  • 1891 Earliest known naturist club in the world. Founded by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, District and Sessions Judge for the Bombay Civil Service at Thana, India.[12]

1900 - 1974[edit]

The Doukhobors, a sect of Russian origin marching nude in a protest in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1900s
Organised nudism. Postcard of the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony, San Diego, California. (1935)
  • 1933: In Germany, Nazi edict banned many nudist organizations; but nudists re-formed as "sports" groups and were re-legalized.[22]

1975 - 1989[edit]

Nambassa hippie festival New Zealand 1978

1990 - 1999[edit]

NakedBerlin Group of nude men among hundreds of tourists at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate; photographed by Team Henning von Berg.

2000 – present[edit]

NakedSydney Photographer Henning von Berg and his group of nude women in front of the Sydney Opera House, 2005
FEMEN in Ukraine, 2008
A Spencer Tunick Nude Installation, 2010
World Naked Bike Ride participants, 2013
  • 2001-07-01: The Freedom to be Yourself protest in London, England on July 1, 2001
  • Late 2001: Daniel Johnson and Mark Storey from the Seattle area begin to outline goals for a local group in Seattle, which at first is known as the Body Freedom Co-op and in late 2001 incorporates as the nonprofit Body Freedom Collaborative.
  • 2003-12-06: The Durango Herald of Colorado reports that fifteen "mostly naked bike riders marked the 26th birthday of a friend with a streak through downtown Durango".[32]
  • 2004-06-12: World Naked Bike Ride (1st year)
  • 2005-02: Photographer Henning von Berg documents a group of naked women in Downtown Sydney, Australia. He takes photos in front of major touristic highlights, including the Commonwealth Bank, Hyde Park, Queen Victoria's statue, the National Treasure Bank, a leading TV broadcast studio, the iconic Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge.[33]
  • 2005-07-01: The first naked crossing of the European Alps.[34]
  • 2006-07-29: Daniel Johnson runs the entire length of the 5K UnitedHealthcare Torchlight Run at Seafair—wearing only bodypaint, socks, and shoes—in an attempt to encourage others to participate in a creatively adorned manner and to jumpstart a related event called the Jaybird Run.[35]
  • 2008 FEMEN is a political protest group in Ukraine, started by Hanna Hutsol.
  • 2009-07-11: AANR coordinates a skinny dipping event at 3:00PM throughout North America. The event is recorded by The Guinness Book of World Records as "largest number of people simultaneously skinny-dipping".[36]

Repeating events[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Study of lice DNA shows humans first wore clothes 170,000 years ago, physorg, January 6, 2011 by Danielle Torrent
  2. ^ Swaddling, Judith (2002-02-19). "The Ancient Olympic Games". Live Online. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  3. ^ "The Olympic Games". The History Channel. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  4. ^ http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/lycurgus.html Plutarch, the Life of Lygurgus
  5. ^ a b c d e f g [self-published source]Robinson, B. A. Nudism and Naturism, Introduction, history, glossary of terms. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (2001-11-26). Retrieved 2008-09-09.
  6. ^ Delaney, Frank (1986). The Celts. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 31. ISBN 0-316-17993-0. Some have iron breastplates of chain mail while others fight naked!, and for them the breastplate given by nature suffices. 
  7. ^ Luke 8:27
  8. ^ "Lady Godiva: The naked truth". BBC News. 2001-08-24. Retrieved 2006-08-11. 
  9. ^ (2003). Travel Naturally, (49).
  10. ^ Cec Cinder. (1998). The Nudist Idea. Riverside, California: Ultraviolet Press.
  11. ^ Whiting, Sam (2003-10-05). "Maverick Matt Warshaw turns his passion into the definitive work on surfing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  12. ^ "A History of Naturism - Timeline". British Naturism. 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d http://open-site.org/Recreation/Nudism/History/
  14. ^ Siegelbaum, Lewis H. Soviet state and society between revolutions, 1918-1929. ISBN 978-0-521-36987-9.
  15. ^ Hamburg, Gary. Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism. The Teaching Company. ISBN 978-0-10-225024-4.
  16. ^ Russia: Down With Shame, Time Magazine, September 22, 1924.
  17. ^ Gymnosophy publication by American Gymnosophical Society Yale University Library
  18. ^ Adventures in Many Lands-Autobiographical Memoirs of Maurice Parmelee,Yale University Library
  19. ^ "The History of Fiveacres". Fiveacres Country Club. 
  20. ^ AGA statement-History,Purposeful Development and Philosophical Outlook-by Katherine & Herman Soshinsky-circa 1950,collection of Rock Lodge Club.
  21. ^ International Nude-Land Dec 1934 page30
  22. ^ Nudism in Nazi Germany: Indecent Behaviour or Physical Culture for the Well-being of the Nation
    Authors: Krüger A.; Krüger F.; Treptau S.
    Source: The International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume 19, Number 4, December 01, 2002, pp. 33-54(22)
    Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
  23. ^ "Arkansas Law § 5-68-204 Violates First Amendment Rights". UnconstitutionalArkansas.org. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ PychCentral Nude psychotherpapy history by Marggarita Tartakovsky
  26. ^ Nude & Natural 18.4, more info in Cec. Cinder's The Nudist Idea.
  27. ^ DOWN TO EARTH CO-OP. The ConFest People
  28. ^ The Burning Man Project
  29. ^ "Judgment C12668, R. vs. Jacob". Province of Ontario Court of Appeal. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  30. ^ a b c Charles MacFarland of Synetech Video, e-mail from Dec 2003
  31. ^ NAKED BERLIN – The Liberal Capital
  32. ^ Naked birthday celebrants elude Durango police
  33. ^ Montreal Mirror.
  34. ^ Article [2] by Richard Foley.
  35. ^ Jaybird Run
  36. ^ World Record Skinny Dipping


Further reading[edit]

Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands. Chicago: Moody Press. 1983