The Thing About Today – December 5

December 5, 2020
Day 340 of 366

December 5th is the 340th day of the year. It is World Soil Day, a day to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sacher Torte Day, Bathtub Party Day, International Ninja Day, National Repeal Day, National Rhubarb Vodka Day, and Skywarn Recognition Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Saturday in December.

I didn’t know about Skywarn Recognition Day. It recognizes the vital public service contributions that Amateur Radio operators make during National Weather Service severe weather warning operations. It also strengthens the bond between Amateur Radio operators and the local National Weather Service.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1766, auctioneer James Christie held his first sale in London.
  • In 1831, former United States President John Quincy Adams took his seat in the House of Representatives. He remains the only former President to be elected to the chamber, although John Tyler was elected as a Confederate representative and died before being seated.
  • In 1890, Austrian-American director, producer, and screenwriter Fritz Lang was born.
  • In 1901, animator, director, producer, and screenwriter Walt Disney was born. He co-founded the Walt Disney Company.
  • Also in 1901, German physicist and academic Werner Heisenberg was born. A theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics, he is known for the uncertainty principle, which he published in 1927. He was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the creation of quantum mechanics”, and is also known for important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles.
  • In 1926, Adetowun Ogunsheye was born. She was the first female Nigerian professor and university dean.
  • In 1932, singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor Little Richard was born.
  • In 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. It repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide prohibition on alcohol.
  • In 1949, English composer and conductor John Altman was born.
  • In 1955, E. D. Nixon and Rosa Parks led the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • In 1958, Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was inaugurated in the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II when she spoke to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.
  • In 1975, actress Paula Patton was born.
  • In 1976, actress Amy Acker was born.
  • In 2004, the Civil Partnership Act came into effect in the United Kingdom, and the first civil partnership was registered as a result.

December 5th is Saint Nicholas’ Eve in Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. It is also Krampusnacht in Austria.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children. The legendary figure Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, and is also known as Sint-Nicolaas, De Sint (“The Saint”), De Goede Sint (“The Good Saint”), and De Goedheiligman (“The Good Holy Man”) in Dutch; Sanikolas in Papiamento; Saint Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in West Frisian; Sinterklaos in Limburgs; Saint-Nikloi in West Flemish; Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish; Sankt Nikolaus or Nikolaus in German; and Sint Nicholas in Afrikaans. Sinterklaas is also one of the primary sources of the Christmas icon Santa Claus.

The feast of Sinterklaas celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas on December 6th, and part of that celebration is the giving of gifts on Saint Nicholas’ Eve on December 5th.

December 5th is also Krampusnacht, during which a wicked hairy devil named Krampus sometimes accompanies Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the Ruten bundles.

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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