July 22, 2020
Day 204 of 366
July 22nd is the 204th day of the year. It is Sarawak Independence Day – also known as Hari Kemerdekaan Sarawak, Hari Sarawak, or Sarawak Day – celebrating the establishment of self-government and de facto independence of the state of Sarawak in Malaysia.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Penuche Fudge Day, National Hammock Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Hot Dog Day (which changes annually).
Historical items of note:
- In 1598, William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, was entered on the Stationers’ Register. By decree of Queen Elizabeth, the Stationers’ Register licensed printed works, giving the Crown tight control over all published material.
- In 1706, the Acts of Union 1707 were agreed upon by commissioners from the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which, when passed by each countries’ Parliaments, led to the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain.
- In 1793, Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean, thus becoming the first recorded human to complete a transcontinental crossing of North America.
- In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after admiring the view from the top of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
- In 1934, actress Louise Fletcher was born.
- In 1937, the United States Senate voted down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- In 1938, actor Terence Stamp was born.
- In 1940, game show host and producer Alex Trebek was born.
- In 1942, the United States government began compulsory civilian gasoline rationing due to wartime demands.
- In 1946, actor, director, and producer Danny Glover was born.
- In 1949, pianist and composer Alan Menken was born.
- In 1955, actor Willem Dafoe was born.
- In 1959, cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space premiered. It is considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Personally, I’ve survived worse.
- In 1964, actress, dancer, and 1980s Doctor Who companion Bonnie Langford was born.
- In 1972, actor, director, and producer Colin Ferguson was born.
- In 1976, Japan completed its last reparation to the Philippines for war crimes committed during imperial Japan’s conquest of the country in the Second World War.
- In 1992, singer and actress Selena Gomez was born.
- In 2018, the producers of the CW’s Supergirl announced the casting of the first live-action transgender superhero, Dreamer, played by transgender actor Nicole Maines.
- In 2019, Avengers: Endgame premiered, becoming the world’s highest-grossing film.
July 22nd is one of two celebrations of Ratcatcher’s Day.
Also known as Rat-catcher’s Day or Rat Catcher’s Day, the day is celebrated on either June 26th or July 22nd, and commemorates the myth of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Rattenfänger von Hameln in German) legend describes a piper, dressed in multicolored (“pied”) clothing, who was a rat-catcher hired by the town. His goal was to lure rats away with his magic pipe, presumably to stem the tide of a plague. When the citizens refused to pay for this service as promised, he retaliated by using his instrument’s magical power on their children, leading them away as he had the rats.
The town of Hamelin, Germany uses the June date and the term “Pied Piper Day”. The confusion of dates is due to different publications of the story. The Brothers Grimm cite June 26, 1284 as the date that the Pied Piper led the children out of the town, while the poem by Robert Browning gives it as July 22, 1376.
Either way, it is used as a holiday to remember rat-catchers, similar to Secretary’s Day and Presidents Day.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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