The Thing About Today – November 28

November 28, 2020
Day 333 of 366

November 28th is the 333rd day of the year. It is Independence Day in Mauritania (which separated from France in 1960) and Panama (which separated from Spain in 1821). It is also Albanian Flag Day, which celebrates the independence of Albania from Turkey in 1912, the first Albanian flag raise by Skanderbeg in 1443, and for the new parliamentary constitution in 1998.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National French Toast Day and Small Business Saturday (which is typically the Saturday after Thanksgiving).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1582, in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway paid a £40 bond for their marriage license.
  • In 1811, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
  • In 1814, The Times of London became the first newspaper to be produced on a steam-powered printing press, built by the German team of Koenig & Bauer.
  • In 1843, Ka Lā Hui (Hawaiian Independence Day) was established when the Kingdom of Hawaii was officially recognized by the United Kingdom and France as an independent nation.
  • In 1893, women voted for the first time in New Zealand with the 1893 New Zealand general election.
  • In 1919, Lady Astor was elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Countess Markievicz was the first woman to be elected to Parliament, but she refused to sit, so Lady Astor became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
  • In 1943, singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist Randy Newman was born.
  • In 1946, director and producer Joe Dante was born.
  • In 1950, actor and producer Ed Harris was born.
  • In 1952, actress S. Epatha Merkerson was born.
  • In 1961, Mexican director, producer, and screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón was born.
  • In 1962, comedian, actor, and television host Jon Stewart was born.
  • In 1964, NASA launched the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.
  • In 1967, the first pulsar (PSR B1919+21, in the constellation of Vulpecula) was discovered by astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.
  • In 1972, Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined at La Santé Prison. They marked the last executions to occur in Paris. Capital punishment was abolished in the country overall in 1981.
  • In 1984, actress and producer Mary Elizabeth Winstead was born.
  • In 1987, Scottish actress Karen Gillan was born.
  • In 1988, actress and singer-songwriter Scarlett Pomers was born.

November 28th is Hōonkō (報恩講) in Japan, a holiday in the tradition of Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism that observes the memorial of its founder, Shinran Shonin.

Depending on whether the old Japanese lunar calendar or the western Gregorian calendar is used, this holiday is typically observed either around November 28th (as in the Higashi Honganji) or early January from the 9th to the 16th (as in the Nishi Honganji) respectively.

This holiday is among the most important observed in the Jodo Shinshu tradition. The observance began after Shinran’s daughter, Kakushinni carried on administration of Shinran’s mausoleum, as did her descendants, who ultimately became the Monshu of Jodo Shinshu.

In the word hōonkō; ‘hōon’ means “return of gratitude” and ‘ko’ means “to clarify the meaning of” or “gathering”‘. A typical service will consist of reciting Shinran’s hymn, the Shoshinge, and a reading from the life of Shinran. Followers will sometimes observe a strict diet that day, preferring to eat shōjin ryōri or “Buddhist cuisine”, though this is strictly optional. Temple services will often serve Buddhist cuisine after service including vegetarian ozōni, adzuki and mochi.

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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