December 16, 2020
Day 351 of 366
December 16th is the 351st day of the year. It is National Day, celebrating the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from Bahrain, making Bahrain an independent emirate in 1971.
In Christianity, it is also the beginning of the nine-day celebration, spanning December 16 to December 24, that marks the trials which Mary and Joseph endured before finding a place to stay where Jesus could be born. This includes Las Posadas in Latin America and the Simbang Gabi novena of masses in the Philippines.
Historical items of note:
- In 1770, composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born.
- In 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped hundreds of crates of tea into Boston harbor as a protest against the Tea Act. The event became known as the Boston Tea Party.
- In 1775, English novelist Jane Austen was born.
- In 1907, the Great White Fleet began its circumnavigation of the world. The fleet, tasked to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability, consisted of 16 United States Navy battleships divided into two squadrons along with their escorts. The nickname came from the stark white paint job on the ship’s hulls.
- In 1913, Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week.
- In 1917, British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke was born.
- In 1928, philosopher and author Philip K. Dick was born.
- In 1929, Egyptian-English actor Nicholas Courtney was born. He was best known as Brigadier General Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart from Doctor Who.
- In 1937, Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe attempted to escape from the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Neither was ever seen again.
- In 1941, journalist and actress Leslie Stahl was born.
- In 1943, television producer Steven Bochco was born.
- In 1944, the Battle of the Bulge during World War II began with the surprise offensive of three German armies through the Ardennes forest. It lasted for approximately one month.
- In 1947, William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain built the first practical point-contact transistor.
- Also in 1947, actor Ben Cross was born.
- In 1950, child star Shirley Temple announced her retirement from films at the age of 22.
- Also in 1950, actress Caroline Munro was born.
- In 1963, actor Benjamin Bratt was born.
- In 1967, actress Miranda Otto was born.
- In 1971, the ceasefire of the Pakistan Army brought an end to both the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. This is commemorated annually as Victory Day in Bangladesh and as Vijay Diwas in India.
- In 1981, actress, musician, and model Krysten Ritter was born.
- In 1985, Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti were shot dead on the orders of John Gotti, who assumed leadership of New York’s Gambino crime family.
- Also in 1985, The Color Purple, the film by Steven Spielberg based on the novel by Alice Walker, premiered in New York City.
As mentioned earlier, December 16th is unofficially observed as Barbie and Barney Backlash Day, a day for parents to take a vacation from repetitive sing-a-longs and storytelling of children’s programming.
Of course, Barbie and Barney aren’t the only toys and television show of childhood, but the fashion doll and the sing-song dinosaur were the ones to strike a nerve when this day was created. It gives parents a reminder that turning off the television can be a good thing, replacing them with activities like reading and use of constructive toys.
Where did it come from? Who knows. But someone cared enough to make it a thing.
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.