The Thing About Today – December 26

December 26, 2020
Day 361 of 366

December 26th is the 361st day of the year. It is Boxing Day in the Commonwealth nations and the first day of Kwanzaa, a celebration of African-American culture that runs until January 1st.

There are five days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Candy Cane Day, National Thank-you Note Day, and National Whiner’s Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1791, English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage was born. He invented the Difference Engine.
  • In 1862, four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover were the first female nurses on a United States Navy hospital ship. The Red Rover was a 650-ton Confederate States of America steamer was captured and repurposed by the United States Navy during the American Civil War.
  • In 1871, Thespis, the first Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, debuted. It did modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years and the score has been subsequently lost.
  • In 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium.
  • In 1921, comedian Steve Allen was born.
  • In 1922, British actor Richard Mayes was born.
  • In 1924, Judy Garland, billed at Baby Frances, made her show business debut at 2½ years old.
  • In 1930, British actor Donald Moffat was born.
  • In 1933, puppeteer and voice actor Caroll Spinney was born.
  • In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
  • In 1960, New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison was born. He has played Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and the clone army in the Star Wars franchise.
  • In 1963, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles were released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.
  • In 1966, the first Kwanzaa was celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
  • In 1973, The Exorcist, based on the book by and written by William Peter Blatty, premiered. It was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.
  • In 1975, Tu-144, the world’s first commercial supersonic aircraft surpassing Mach 2, went into service.
  • In 1986, English actor Kit Harington was born.
  • In 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union, thereby ending the Cold War.

December 26th is the first day of Junkanoo, a street parade in The Bahamas.

The event contains music, dance, and costumes of mixed African origin in many islands across the English speaking Caribbean, and takes place on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. They are predominantly showcased in the Bahamas, but also in Miami in June and Key West in October among the local black populations have their roots in the Caribbean.

The festival may have origins among slaves on plantations in the Bahamas who celebrated the holidays around Christmas with dance, music, and costumes centuries ago. After emancipation, the tradition continued and junkanoo evolved from simple origins to a formal, organized parade with intricate costumes, themed music and official prizes within various categories.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

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