May 5, 2020
Day 126 of 366
May 5th is the 126th day of the year. It is the approximate midpoint of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, starting from the equinox and headed toward the solstice.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Astronaut Day, National Cartoonists Day, National Silence the Shame Day, National Totally Chipotle Day, National Hoagie Day, National Foster Care Day (the first Tuesday in May), and National Teacher Appreciation Day (the Tuesday of the first full week in May).
Historical items of note:
- In 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a United States patent. It was for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.
- In 1835, the first railway in continental Europe opened between Brussels and Mechelen.
- In 1865, the Confederate government was declared dissolved at Washington, Georgia at the end of the American Civil War.
- In 1866, Memorial Day was first celebrated in the United States at Waterloo, New York.
- In 1891, the Music Hall in New York City (later known as Carnegie Hall) had its grand opening and first public performance. The guest conductor was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
- In 1905, the trial in the Stratton Brothers case began in London, England. It was notable for being the first time that fingerprint evidence was used to gain a conviction for murder.
- In 1937, English musician, arranger, and composer Delia Derbyshire was born. She arranged the theme music for Doctor Who.
- In 1940, actor Lance Henriksen was born.
- In 1942, actor Marc Alaimo was born.
- In 1943, actor and comedian Michael Palin was born.
- In 1944, actor and screenwriter John Rhys-Davies was born.
- In 1957, actor, director, and screenwriter Richard E. Grant was born.
- In 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into outer space. Part of Project Mercury, the Freedom 7 mission was a sub-orbital flight.
- In 1962, the West Side Story soundtrack album went to #1 on the music charts and stayed there for 54 weeks. That set a new record with more than 20 weeks longer than any other album.
- In 1983, actor Henry Cavill was born.
- In 1988, singer-songwriter Adele was born.
May 5th is known as Cinco de Mayo. In 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla.
Under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. The victory was bittersweet since Zaragoza died months after the battle due to illness and a year after the battle, a larger French force defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla. Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.
In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial. The city of Puebla marks the event with an arts festival, a festival of local cuisine, and re-enactments of the battle.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The day is far more popular in the United States and has become associated with a celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, starting annually observations in 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies, leading to beer sales now on par with the Super Bowl.
Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day. That being the most important national holiday in Mexico, it is celebrated on September 16 and commemorates the Cry of Dolores, which initiated the war of Mexican independence from Spain.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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