August 16, 2020
Day 229 of 366
August 16th is the 229th day of the year. It is National Airborne Day in the United States, a day designated to honor the airborne forces of the United States military.
Historical items of note:
- In 1858, United States President James Buchanan inaugurated the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. A weak signal forced a shutdown of the service after a few weeks.
- In 1888, British colonel, diplomat, writer, and archaeologist T. E. Lawrence was born.
- In 1891, the Basilica of San Sebastian, Manila was officially inaugurated and blessed. It was the first all-steel church in Asia.
- In 1896, Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack, and Dawson Charlie discovered gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.
- In 1913, Tōhoku Imperial University of Japan became the first university in Japan to admit female students. The school is known today as Tohoku University.
- In 1930, the first color sound cartoon, Fiddlesticks, was released by Ub Iwerks.
- In 1933, actress Julie Newmar was born.
- In 1937, actress Lorraine Gary was born.
- In 1946, actress Lesley Ann Warren was born.
- In 1952, actor Reginald VelJohnson was born.
- In 1954, the first issue of Sports Illustrated was published.
- Also in 1954, Canadian director, producer, and screenwriter James Cameron was born.
- In 1957, actress and director Laura Innes was born.
- In 1958, actress Angela Bassett was born.
- In 1960, Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
- In 1975, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam symbolically handed over land to the Gurindji people after the 8-year Wave Hill walk-off, a landmark event in the history of Indigenous land rights in Australia. The event was, commemorated in a 1991 song by Paul Kelly and an annual celebration.
- Also in 1975, New Zealand director, screenwriter, and actor Taika Waititi was born.
August 16th is the festival of Xicolatada, a tradition in the village of Palau-de-Cerdagne in Languedoc-Roussillon, France for more than 300 years.
In Catalonia, August 15th was once a festival day, during which the locals would drink quite heavily and were hungover the next morning. To help them feel better, the village chocolatier would offer them a hot chocolate, which he claimed was an excellent remedy.
Over the years, this habit grew into a custom, and a municipal association was eventually formed to remember the tradition. This association organizes the distribution of hot chocolate every year on August 16th at precisely 11:00 am.
Today, the chocolate is brewed in large cauldrons over a wood fire. The festival draws many tourists to the village every year, and to preserve the tradition, festival organizers have created a confraternity of master chocolatiers to keep the recipe safe and secret.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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