The Thing About Today – December 21

December 21, 2020
Day 356 of 366

December 21st is the 356th day of the year. This year, today is the solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the shortest day of the year, typically regarded as the first day of winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year.

Related observances include Blue Christmas (typically among modern American liberal Protestant groups), the Dongzhi Festival in Asia, Sanghamitta Day in Theravada Buddhism, Yule for neopagans in the Northern Hemisphere, and Ziemassvētki in ancient Latvia.

There are ten days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Crossword Puzzle Day, Humbug Day, National Maine Day, Phileas Fogg Win A Wager Day, National Flashlight Day (typically observed on the day of the Winter Solstice), National French Fried Shrimp Day, National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day (typically observed on the first day of winter), and Anne & Samantha Day (typically observed every solstice to honor Anne Frank and Samantha Smith).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1861, Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. This was the first establishment of the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military award. The Department of the Army would establish their Medal of Honor on July 12, 1862, and the Department of the Air Force would follow on April 14, 1965.
  • In 1879, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • In 1883, The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment, the first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army, were formed.
  • In 1892, English journalist and author Rebecca West was born.
  • In 1913, Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, was published in the New York World.
  • In 1914, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, the first feature-length silent film comedy, was released.
  • In 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the world’s first full-length animated feature, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood.
  • In 1948, actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson was born.
  • In 1950, screenwriter and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg was born. He co-founded Dreamworks Animation.
  • In 1966, British-Canadian actor, director, and producer Kiefer Sutherland was born.
  • In 1968, Apollo 8 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, placing its crew of Frank F. Borman II, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anderson on a lunar trajectory for the first visit to another celestial body by humans.
  • In 1983, actor Steven Yeun was born.

In 1620, the Mayflower Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts after their voyage from England.

Forefathers’ Day was established in 1769 as a local annual holiday to commemorate the event, and is celebrated on either December 21st or December 22nd. The good-hearted dispute between the Old Colony Club and the Mayflower Society comes from the adjustment to the Gregorian calendar. This erroneously established the anniversary on both days. As a result, members of both societies participate in both celebrations.

The Old Colony Club begins the celebration at 6:00 AM with a march by members to the top of Cole’s Hill next to the statue of Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag confederacy. This is followed by a reading of a proclamation honoring the forefathers and a ritual firing of the club’s cannon. Both organizations include a succotash dinner to close out the celebrations.

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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