The Thing About Today – November 5

November 5, 2020
Day 310 of 366

November 5th is the 310th day of the year. It is Bank Transfer Day, a consumer activism initiative in the United States that calls for a voluntary switch from commercial banks to not-for-profit credit unions.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Doughnut Day, National Love Your Red Hair Day, and National Cash Back Day (typically observed on the first Thursday in November).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1499, the Catholicon was published. From the Greek Καθολικόν, the title means “universal”, and the book is referred to by some historians as the Catholicon Armoricum, in reference to Armorica which is a name for Brittany in Latin. Written in 1464, this Breton-French-Latin dictionary was the first for both the Breton and French languages.
  • In 1872, suffragist Susan B. Anthony voted for the first time in defiance of the law. She was later fined $100.
  • In 1895, George B. Selden was granted the first United States patent for an automobile.
  • In 1913, actress Vivien Leigh was born.
  • In 1938, author and illustrator Jim Steranko was born.
  • In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
  • In 1941, singer-songwriter and guitarist Art Garfunkel was born.
  • In 1949, actor Armin Shimerman was born.
  • In 1955, after being destroyed in World War II, the rebuilt Vienna State Opera reopened with a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio.
  • In 1960, English actress Tilda Swinton was born.
  • In 1961, astronaut Alan G. Poindexter was born.
  • In 1965, Dutch model and actress Famke Janssen was born.
  • In 1986, the first United States Naval visit to China occurred since 1949. The ships USS Rentz (FFG-46), USS Reeves (CG-24), and USS Oldendorf (DD-972) visited Qingdao (Tsing Tao).
  • In 2007, China’s first lunar satellite, Chang’e 1, went into orbit around the Moon.
  • Also in 2007, Google unveiled the Android mobile operating system.
  • In 2013, India launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, marking its first interplanetary probe.

In 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested in relation to the Gunpowder Plot. The date is commemorated as Guy Fawkes Day.

Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding the explosives that the Gunpowder Plot conspirators had placed beneath the House of Lords. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5th as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which King Jame I’s nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.

The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on October 26th. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned of the plot’s discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House. In the ensuing battle, leader Robert Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial in January, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Guy Fawkes Day rose as a celebration of the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life. People lit bonfires around London to commemorate it, and months later, the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

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