The Thing About Today – December 31

December 31, 2020
Day 366 of 366

December 31st is the 366th day of the year. It is New Year’s Eve, celebrated alongside other events like First Night in the United States, Last Day of the Year (Bisperás ng Bagong Taón) in the Philippines, Novy God Eve in Russia, Ōmisoka in Japan, and the first day of Hogmanay or “Auld Year’s Night” in Scotland.

This is the final day of 2020.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Champagne Day, No Interruptions Day (typically observed on the last work day of the year), Make Up Your Mind Day, and the Universal Hour of Peace.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and started brewing Guinness.
  • In 1790, Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived to this day, was published for the first time.
  • In 1831, Gramercy Park was deeded to New York City.
  • In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, then a small logging town, as the capital of the Province of Canada.
  • In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed an act that admitted West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.
  • In 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
  • In 1907, the first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.
  • In 1937, Welsh actor, director, and composer Anthony Hopkins was born.
  • In 1943, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor John Denver was born.
  • Also in 1943, English actor Ben Kingsley was born.
  • In 1958, actress and dancer Bebe Neuwirth was born.
  • In 1959, actor Val Kilmer was born.
  • In 1983, the AT&T Bell System was broken up by the United States Government.
  • In 1991, all official Soviet Union institutions were to have ceased operations by this date, five days after the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.
  • In 1994, this date was skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands changed time zones from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC−10:00 to UTC+14:00, respectively.
  • In 2009, a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occurred simultaneously.
  • In 2011, NASA succeeded in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.

December 31st marks the last day of 2020, and thus the last day of The Thing About Today on this blog.

When I conceived the feature last December, it was a challenge to write one post per day on this site, as well as an opportunity to look at each day of both a leap year and a personal milestone year with respect to historical context. Who could have known what this year would bring with the COVID-19 pandemic and such significant changes to each of our lives and the world at large?

My hope for this feature is that it brought both knowledge and entertainment to you this year. I’m grateful and thankful for your attention and endurance over the last 366 days.

I hope that we all have a prosperous, safe, and healthy year ahead of us.

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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