The Thing About Today – December 18

December 18, 2020
Day 353 of 366

December 18th is the 353rd day of the year. It is United Nations Arabic Language Day, established by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 seeking “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization”. The date was chosen since it was the “day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language “.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Twin Day, National Roast Suckling Pig Day, Answer The Telephone Like Buddy The Elf Day, National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, and Underdog Day. The last two are typically observed on the third Friday in December.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1271, Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China.
  • In 1499, a rebellion broke out in Alpujarras in response to the forced conversions of Muslims in Spain.
  • In 1734, French conductor and composer Jean-Baptiste Rey was born. He remains the longest-serving conductor of the Paris Opera, with a tenure spanning from the last years of the monarchy to Napoleon’s Empire (1776–1810).
  • In 1777, the United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the American rebels over British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October.
  • In 1833, the national anthem of the Russian Empire, “God Save the Tsar!”, was first performed.
  • In 1865, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, thus prohibiting slavery throughout the country.
  • In 1892, The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky premiered in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
  • In 1898, Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the first officially recognized land speed record of 39.245 mph (63.159 kph) in a Jeantaud electric car.
  • In 1938, actor Roger E. Mosley was born.
  • In 1946, director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg was born. He co-founded Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks Pictures, where he has also served as a producer or executive producer for several successful film trilogies, tetralogies and more including the GremlinsBack to the FutureMen in Black, and the Transformers series.
  • In 1950, movie critic Leonard Maltin was born.
  • In 1958, Project SCORE, the world’s first communications satellite, was launched.
  • In 1963, actor and producer Brad Pitt was born.
  • Also in 1963, the first film in The Pink Panther series premiered.
  • In 1964, The Pink Panther cartoons premiered.
  • In 1966, Saturn’s moon Epimetheus was discovered by astronomer Richard Walker.
  • Also in 1966, Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired for the first time on television.
  • In 1968, actor Casper Van Dien was born.
  • In 1969, the sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, premiered.
  • In 1973, Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, was launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union.
  • In 1974, artist and television personality Kari Byron was born.
  • In 1976, Wonder Woman premiered on television.
  • In 1978, actress Katie Holmes was born.
  • In 1999, NASA launched the Terra platform into orbit. It carried five Earth Observation instruments, including the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT).
  • In 2006, the United Arab Emirates held its first-ever elections.
  • In 2009, Avatar premiered, eventually becoming the highest-grossing film of all time. It would eventually be pushed into third place by Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, establishing the foundations for International Migrants Day.

The day highlights the contributions made by the roughly 272 million migrants worldwide, including more than 41 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the challenges they face. In 1997, Filipino and other Asian migrant organizations began celebrating and promoting December 18t as the International Day of Solidarity with Migrants. Building on this initiative, with support from Migrant Rights International and the Steering Committee for the Global Campaign for Ratification of the International Convention on Migrants’ Rights and many other organizations, the observation’s supporters began campaigning for an official designation, which was finally proclaimed on December 4, 2000.

That was an important step for the migrant community and a rallying point for all those concerned with the protection of migrants. The United Nations invited all member states and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure the protection of migrants.

International Migrants Day is seen as an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by millions of migrants to the economies of their host and home countries promotes respect for their basic human rights.

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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