The Thing About Today – December 15

December 15, 2020
Day 350 of 366

December 15th is the 350th day of the year. It is International Tea Day in tea producing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda and Tanzania. Not to be confused with the United Nations day of the same name, International Tea Day aims to draw global attention of governments and citizens to the impact of the global tea trade on workers and growers, and has been linked to requests for price supports and fair trade.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cupcake Day, Bill of Rights Day, Cat Herders Day, and National Wear Your Pearls Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1025, Constantine VIII became sole emperor of the Byzantine Empire, 63 years after being crowned co-emperor.
  • In 1791, the United States Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.
  • In 1832, French architect and engineer Gustave Eiffel was born. He co-designed the Eiffel Tower.
  • In 1852, French physicist and chemist Henri Becquerel was born. He was the first person to discover evidence of radioactivity. For work in this field he, along with Marie Skłodowska-Curie (Marie Curie) and Pierre Curie received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. The SI unit for radioactivity, the becquerel (Bq), was named after him.
  • In 1906, the London Underground’s Great Northern, Piccadilly, and Brompton Railway opened.
  • In 1923, English-American physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson was born. He was known for his works in quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and engineering.
  • In 1939, Gone with the Wind premiered at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The theater was extensively damaged as the result of a fire on January 30, 1978, and the Georgia-Pacific Tower now stands on the site. The film is the top-grossing movie in history (when adjusted for inflation) in the United States.
  • In 1948, Australian actress Cassandra Harris was born.
  • In 1949, actor Don Johnson was born.
  • In 1963, actress Helen Slater was born.
  • In 1965, Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Four orbits later, it achieved the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 7.
  • In 1968, actor Garrett Wang was born.
  • In 1970, Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 successfully landed on Venus. It is the first successful soft landing on another planet.
  • Also in 1970, Canadian actor, screenwriter and director Michael Shanks was born.
  • In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association voted 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-II.
  • In 1981, English actress Michelle Dockery was born.
  • In 1982, English actor Charlie Cox was born.
  • In 1983, English actress Camilla Luddington was born.
  • In 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after 11 years and $27,000,000 spent to stabilize it. The famous lean was maintained.

December 15th is Koninkrijksdag (Kingdom Day), the commemoration of the signing of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954 in Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten.

The charter was signed by Queen Juliana and deals with the relation between the Netherlands and the overseas territories, the Netherlands Antilles, Netherlands New Guinea and Suriname. The charter governs the relationships between the Netherlands, Aruba (since 1986), Curaçao (since 2010), and Sint Maarten (since 2010).

Since 2005, the Koninkrijksconcert (Kingdom Concert) is annually held on December 15th to celebrate the relationship between Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba. At the concerts, that were held in respectively Dordrecht, Amersfoort, Nijmegen, and Curaçao, musical artists from all over the kingdom have performed.

In 2008, Naturalisatiedag (Naturalization Day) in the Kingdom of the Netherlands was moved from August 24th, the day on which the Constitution of the Netherlands was signed, to December 15th, which has a symbolic meaning for all constituent countries of the kingdom. On Naturalization Day, newly naturalized citizens officially receive their Dutch citizenship.

When December 15th falls on a Sunday, the commemoration takes place on December 16th.

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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