The Thing About Today – December 8

December 8, 2020
Day 343 of 366

December 8th is the 343rd day of the year. It is the Day of Finnish Music, commemorating the 1865 birthdate of Jean Sibelius, widely recognized as his country’s greatest composer and, through his music, often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Brownie Day and Pretend to Be A Time Traveler Day.

The origins of Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day are detailed in this Geek USA post.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1660, a woman appeared on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.
  • In 1813, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony premiered in Vienna.
  • In 1861, French filmmaker George Méliès was born.
  • In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, formally establishing the process of Reconstruction.
  • In 1925, actor, singer, and dancer Sammy Davis, Jr. was born.
  • In 1936, actor, director, and producer David Carradine was born.
  • In 1947, astrophysicist, astronomer, and academic Margaret Geller was born. Her work has included pioneering maps of the nearby universe, studies of the relationship between galaxies and their environment, and the development and application of methods for measuring the distribution of matter in the universe.
  • In 1950, actor and makeup artist Rick Baker was born.
  • In 1953, actress Kim Basinger was born.
  • In 1964, actress Teri Hatcher was born.
  • In 1965, actor David Harewood was born.
  • In 1980, former Beatle John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota in New York City.
  • In 2010, with the second launch of the Falcon 9 and the first launch of the Dragon, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.
  • In 2013, Metallica performed a show in Antarctica, making them the first band to perform on all seven continents.

December 8th is Hari-Kuyō (針供養) in the Kyoto and Kansai regions of Japan.

The event is the Japanese Buddhist and Shinto Festival of Broken Needles, celebrated by women in Japan as a memorial to all the sewing needles broken in their service during the past year, as well as an opportunity to pray for improved skills. It is typically celebrated on February 8th in the Kanto region.

Hari-Kuyō began four hundred years ago as a way for housekeepers and professional needle-workers to acknowledge their work over the past years and respect their tools. In the animist traditions, items as well as humans, animals, plants, and objects are considered to have souls. This festival acknowledged the good given to people by their tools. Practitioners went to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to thank their broken needles for their help and service.

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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