December 25, 2020
Day 360 of 366
December 25th is the 360th day of the year. It is Christmas Day in the Christian faith, a holiday that is celebrated around the world.
There are six days remaining in the year.
Historical items of note:
- In 274, a temple to Sol Invictus was dedicated in Rome by Emperor Aurelian.
- In 336, the first recorded Christmas celebration occurred. It was held in Rome.
- In 1642 (on the old calendar), English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton was born.
- In 1758, Halley’s Comet was sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley’s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
- In 1809, Dr. Ephraim McDowell performed the first ovariotomy, removing a 22-pound tumor.
- In 1815, the Handel and Haydn Society, the oldest continually performing arts organization in the United States, gave its first performance.
- In 1821, nurse and humanitarian Clara Barton was born. She founded the American Red Cross.
- In 1831, the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt began. Up to twenty percent of Jamaica’s slaves mobilized in an ultimately unsuccessful fight for freedom.
- In 1899, actor Humphrey Bogart was born.
- In 1914, a series of unofficial truces occurred across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.
- In 1924, screenwriter and producer Rod Serling was born. He created The Twilight Zone.
- In 1946, the first European self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated within the Soviet Union’s F-1 nuclear reactor.
- In 1949, actress Sissy Spacek was born.
- In 1950, the Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, was taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turned up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.
- In 1952, Guyanese-American actress CCH Pounder was born.
- In 1954, Scottish singer-songwriter and pianist Annie Lennox was born.
- In 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird, the film adaptation of the novel by Harper Lee, was released.
- In 1963, Disney’s The Sword in the Stone was released.
- In 1984, British actress Georgia Tennant was born.
- In 1985, British actress Perdita Weeks was born.
- In 2003, the ill-fated Beagle 2 probe, released from the Mars Express spacecraft on December 19, stops transmitting shortly before its scheduled landing.
- In 2004, the Cassini orbiter released the Huygens probe which successfully landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on January 14, 2005.
December 25th is also the date of several non-Christmas related holidays.
In Pakistan, it is Quaid-e-Azam Day (یوم ولادت قائداعظم), commemorating the birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Among the Nakh peoples of Chechnya and Ingushetia, it is Malkh-Festival, a festival dedicated to the Deela-Malkh in Vainakh mythology. Today marks the birthday and the festival of the Sun, and during the ceremonies suppliants turned to the east, matching their temples and house façades. The Nakh believed that the Sun went to visit her mother, Aza, at the summer and winter solstices. That journey took her six months to complete.
In India, it is Tulsi Pujan Diwas. The plant tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) is planted and worshipped on the occasion. In Hinduism, tulsi is used for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
Finally, in the Chumbivilcas Province of Peru, Takanakuy is observed today. From the Quechua for “to hit each other”, it is an annual established practice of fighting fellow community members. The festival consists of dancing and of individuals fighting each other to settle old conflicts.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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