December 4, 2020
Day 339 of 366
December 4th is the 339th day of the year. It is Tupou I Day in Tonga, commemorating King George Tupou I’s installation as Tuʻi Kanokupolu in 1845.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cookie Day, National Dice Day, National Sock Day, Faux Fur Friday, and National Bartender Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Friday in December.
Historical items of note:
- In 1783, at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, General George Washington bid farewell to his officers.
- In 1786, Mission Santa Barbara was dedicated in what would become Santa Barbara, California. This happened on the feast day of Saint Barbara.
- In 1791, the first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, was published.
- In 1872, the crewless American brigantine Mary Celeste, adrift in the Atlantic, was discovered by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was only slightly damaged. Her master Benjamin Briggs and all nine others known to have been on board were never accounted for.
- In 1881, the first edition of the Los Angeles Times was published.
- In 1924, architect John C. Portman, Jr. was born. He designed the Renaissance Center and Tomorrow Square. He also had a particularly large impact on the cityscape of his hometown of Atlanta, with the Peachtree Center complex serving as downtown’s business and tourism anchor from the 1970s onward. The Peachtree Center area includes the Portman-designed Hyatt, Westin, and Marriott hotels, as well as the nearby AmericasMart.
- In 1925, photographer and film title designer Maurice Binder was born. He is best known for his title credit sequences for the James Bond films.
- In 1945, by a vote of 65-7, the United States Senate approved United States participation in the United Nations. The UN had been established on October 24th of the same year.
- In 1949, actor Jeff Bridges was born.
- In 1954, the first Burger King was opened in Miami, Florida.
- Also in 1954, actor and producer Tony Todd was born.
- In 1956, the Million Dollar Quartet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash got together at Sun Studio for the first and last time.
- In 1964, actress Marisa Tomei was born.
- In 1991, Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) ceased its operations after 64 years.
December 4th is National Cookie Day.
Cookies appear to have come from 7th century AD Persia, rising shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region. They spread to Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, they were common in all levels of society throughout Europe, from royal cuisine to street vendors.
As global travel became more widespread, cookies made a natural travel companion like travel cakes have been throughout history. One of the most popular early cookies, which traveled especially well and became known on every continent by similar names, was the jumble, a relatively hard cookie made largely from nuts, sweetener, and water.
Cookies came to the Americas through the Dutch in New Amsterdam in the late 1620s. The Dutch word “koekje” was Anglicized to “cookie” or cooky. The earliest reference to cookies in what would become the United States was in 1703.
The most common modern cookie, given its style by the creaming of butter and sugar, was not common until the 18th century.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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