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.


The Thing About Today – December 30

December 30, 2020
Day 365 of 366

December 30th is the 365th day of the year. It is the anniversary of the Day of the Declaration of Slovakia as an Independent Ecclesiastic Province.

There are two days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day, and Bacon Day.

Mmmm… bacon…

Historical items of note:

  • In 1851, businessman and politician Asa Griggs Candler was born. In 1888, he purchased the Coca-Cola recipe for $1,750 from chemist John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. He founded The Coca-Cola Company in 1892 and developed it as a major company. He served as the 41st Mayor of Atlanta from 1916 to 1919.
  • In 1865, Indian-English author and poet Rudyard Kipling was born. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
  • In 1896, Canadian ice hockey player Ernie McLea scored the first hat-trick in Stanley Cup play, and the Cup-winning goal, as the Montreal Victorias defeated the Winnipeg Victorias by a score of 6-5. The hat-trick is accomplished when a single player scores three goals in a single game.
  • Also in 1896, Filipino patriot and reform advocate José Rizal was executed by a Spanish firing squad in Manila.
  • In 1916, the last coronation in Hungary was performed for King Charles IV and Queen Zita.
  • In 1920, actor Jack Lord was born.
  • In 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.
  • In 1924, Canadian-American propulsion engineer Yvonne Brill was born.
  • In 1927, the Ginza Line, the first subway line in Asia, opened in Tokyo, Japan.
  • In 1945, English singer-songwriter and actor Davy Jones was born. He was a member of The Monkees.
  • In 1947, author, screenwriter, and producer James Kahn was born.
  • In 1953, journalist and game show host Meredith Vieira was born.
  • Also in 1953, the first-ever NTSC color television sets went on sale. They were sold for about $1,175 each by RCA.
  • In 1963, Let’s Make a Deal debuted on NBC.
  • In 1972, actress Maureen Flannigan was born. I was introduced to her on Out of this World, a little low-budget family sitcom that I still would love to see on TV again someday.
  • In 1980, actress and producer Eliza Dushku was born.
  • In 1982, Canadian actress Kristin Kreuk was born.
  • In 1986, actress Caity Lotz was born.
  • In 2006, former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was executed.

December 30th is Falling Needles Family Fest Day.

What is that? Well, it’s a day to remind everyone to clean up and recycle that rapidly decaying live Christmas tree. Instead of putting it in the garbage, the tree can be reused in many ways. It can be mulched down for use in your garden or donated to mulching programs. According to Purdue University, it can be anchored in your yard to serve as a temporary winter home for birds. It can also be donated to programs that place trees in waterways to act as homes for fish. It can also be used as a soil erosion block for hills, lakes, rivers, and dunes.

It can also be cut and dried for later use in fire pits. Of course, you should never burn it indoors due to the oils found in firs and evergreens.

Check with your local municipality to see what options are available to recycle your used tree.

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.

The Thing About Today – December 29

December 29, 2020
Day 364 of 366

December 29th is the 364th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Mongolia (Монгол Улсын тусгаар тогтнол) as they commemorate their separation from the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

There are three days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Hero Day, National Pepper Pot Day, and Tick Tock Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1800, self-taught chemist and engineer Charles Goodyear was born. He developed vulcanized rubber, a process for which he received the patent. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is named after him.
  • In 1860, the launch of the ironclad HMS Warrior, with her combination of screw propeller, iron hull, and iron armor, rendered all previous warships obsolete.
  • In 1916, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by James Joyce, was first published as a book after it had been serialized in The Egoist.
  • In 1928, British actor Bernard Cribbins was born.
  • In 1936, actress and producer Mary Tyler Moore was born.
  • In 1947, actor and producer Ted Danson was born.
  • In 1965, the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball, premiered.
  • In 1967, director, screenwriter and producer Lilly Wachowski was born.
  • In 1972, actor Jude Law was born.
  • In 1979, Mexican actor, director and producer Diego Luna was born.
  • In 1987, Scottish actor Iain De Caestecker was born.
  • In 1998, the leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over one million lives.

December 29th is Constitution Day in Ireland.

The Constitution of Ireland, Bunreacht na hÉireann, asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people in the tradition of liberal and representative democracy. It guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected non-executive president, a bicameral parliament, a separation of powers, and judicial review.

It is the second constitution of the Irish state since independence, replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. It came into force on December 29, 1937 following a statewide plebiscite. It is the republican constitution that has been the longest continuously in operation within the European Union.

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.

The Thing About Today – December 28

December 28, 2020
Day 363 of 366

December 28th is the 363rd day of the year. It is King Taksin Memorial Day (วันที่ระลึกสมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช) in Thailand.

There are three days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Short Film Day, National Chocolate Candy Day, National Card Playing Day, Holy Innocents Day, and Pledge of Allegiance Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first Vice President of the United States to resign.
  • In 1895, the Lumière brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Café in Boulevard des Capucines.
  • Also in 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen published a paper detailing his discovery of a new type of radiation. It would later be known as x-rays.
  • In 1912, the first municipally owned streetcars began operation in San Francisco.
  • In 1918, Constance Markievicz, while detained in Holloway prison, became the first woman to be elected MP to the British House of Commons.
  • In 1932, actress Nichelle Nichols was born.
  • In 1934, English actress Maggie Smith was born.
  • In 1954, actor, director, and producer Denzel Washington was born.
  • In 1973, the United States Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
  • In 1979, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace was born.
  • In 1981, British actress and fashion designer Sienna Miller was born.
  • In 1987, actor Thomas Dekker was born.

December 28th is Proclamation Day in South Australia.

Proclamation Day celebrates the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. The province itself was officially created and proclaimed in 1834 when the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act, which empowered King William IV to create South Australia as a British province and to provide for its colonization and government. It was ratified on February 19, 1836 when King William issued Letters Patent establishing the province, and the proclamation announcing the establishment of Government was made by Captain John Hindmarsh beside The Old Gum Tree at the present-day suburb of Glenelg North on December 28, 1836.

The proclamation specified the same protection under the law for the local native population as for the settlers. It was drafted aboard HMS Buffalo by Captain Hindmarsh’s private secretary, George Stevenson, and printed by Robert Thomas.

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.

The Thing About Today – December 27

December 27, 2020
Day 362 of 366

December 27th is the 362nd day of the year. It is Emergency Rescuer’s Day in Russia.

There are four days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Fruitcake Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1571, German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer Johannes Kepler was born.
  • In 1657, the Flushing Remonstrance articulated for the first time in North American history that freedom of religion is a fundamental right.
  • In 1822, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur was born.
  • In 1831, Charles Darwin embarked on his journey aboard HMS Beagle, during which he would begin to formulate his theory of evolution.
  • In 1901, actress and humanitarian Marlene Dietrich was born.
  • In 1922, the Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō became the first purpose built aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the world.
  • In 1927, Kern and Hammerstein’s musical play Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway.
  • In 1932, Radio City Music Hall, the “Showplace of the Nation”, opened in New York City.
  • In 1943, journalist and author Cokie Roberts was born.
  • In 1945, the International Monetary Fund was created with the signing of an agreement by 29 nations.
  • In 1960, English actress Maryam d’Abo was born.
  • In 1973, actor Wilson Cruz was born.
  • In 1974, Japanese-American actor and visual effects designer Masi Oka was born.
  • In 1981, Australian actress Emilie de Ravin was born.
  • In 1993, English actress Olivia Cooke was born.
  • In 2004, radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reached Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.
  • In 2016, we lost Carrie Fisher. An award-winning actress, screenwriter, author, producer, speaker, comedian, and mental health advocate, she died at the age of 60. She wanted it reported that she “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

December 27th is Saint Stephen’s Day in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is also a public holiday in Romania.

Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr, or protomartyr. According to the Acts of the Apostles, he was a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. He was a Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jew and one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members and widows of the community, and he was the eldest deacon (called “archdeacon”).

He was accused of blasphemy and put on trial, during which he made a speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him. He was subsequently stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, also known as Paul, a Pharisee and Roman citizen who would later become a Christian apostle.

The only source for information about Stephen is the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles.

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.

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.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – December 25

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.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Pumpkin Pie Day and A’Phabet Day or No “L” Day.

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.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – December 24

December 24, 2020
Day 359 of 366

December 24th is the 359th day of the year. It is Christmas Eve in the Christian faith, along with related observances. Iceland celebrates Aðfangadagskvöld, the day when the 13th and the last Yule Lad arrives to towns. Italian Americans celebrate today as the Feast of the Seven Fishes while Nordic countries observe Juleaften in Denmark, Julaften in Norway, and Julafton in Sweden.

It is Nittel Nacht in certain Orthodox Jewish denominations, Nochebuena in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, the Declaration of Christmas Peace in the Old Great Square of Turku (Finland’s official Christmas City), and Wigilia in Poland.

It is also Quviasukvik, the Inuit new year in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia.

There are seven days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Eggnog Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1777, Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, was discovered by James Cook.
  • In 1814, representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
  • In 1818, the first performance of “Silent Night” took place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
  • In 1826, the Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy took place. It was caused by a drunken Christmas Day party in the North Barracks of the academy. Two days prior to the incident, a large quantity of whiskey was smuggled into the academy to make eggnog for the party, giving the riot its name.
  • In 1865, Jonathan Shank and Barry Ownby formed The Ku Klux Klan.
  • In 1871, the opera Aida premiered in Cairo, Egypt.
  • In 1905, reclusive billionaire, filmmaker, and aviator Howard Hughes was born.
  • In 1906, Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast. It consisted of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.
  • In 1914, the World War I “Christmas Truce” began.
  • In 1922, the BBC broadcast the first British radio play “The Truth about Father Christmas”.
  • In 1927, author Mary Higgins Clark was born.
  • In 1940, physician Anthony Fauci was born.
  • In 1941, British actor John Levene was born.
  • In 1945, writer and director Nicholas Meyer was born.
  • In 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 entered orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.
  • In 1970, Disney’s The Aristocats debuted.
  • In 1973, the District of Columbia Home Rule Act was passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.
  • In 1980, witnesses reported the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom. The incident became known as “Britain’s Roswell”.

December 24th is National Eggnog Day in the United States.

Also known as milk punch or egg milk punch when alcohol is added, eggnog is a rich, chilled, sweetened, dairy-based beverage. It is traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks (which gives it a frothy texture and its name). In some contexts, distilled spirits such as brandy, rum, whisky, or bourbon are added.

Throughout Canada and the United States, eggnog is traditionally consumed over the Christmas holiday season, starting in late October. A variety called Ponche Crema has been made and consumed in Venezuela and Trinidad since the 1900s, also as part of the Christmas season. During that time, commercially prepared eggnog is sold in grocery stores in these countries.

Eggnog can be homemade using milk, eggs, sugar, and flavorings, and served with cinnamon or nutmeg. While eggnog is often served chilled, in some cases it is warmed, particularly on cold days similar to mulled wine. Eggnog or eggnog flavoring may also be used in other drinks, such as coffee and tea, or to dessert foods such as egg-custard puddings.

The origins are debated, with potential roots as a strong beer brewed in East Anglia to an English beverage known as Egg Flip.

In Britain, the drink was popular among the aristocracy, particularly among those who could afford luxuries like eggs and milk. The drink crossed the Atlantic with British colonists, and rum was substituted for the heavily taxed brandy and wine courtesy of the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean. When rum became more rare during the American Revolution, whisky and bourbon became a popular additive. Moonshine was also used when nothing else was available.

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.

The Thing About Today – December 23

December 23, 2020
Day 358 of 366

December 23rd is the 358th day of the year. It is HumanLight, a Humanist holiday that focuses on the positive, secular human values of reason, compassion, humanity, and hope. The New Jersey Humanist Network founded the holiday in 2001 to aid secular people in commemorating the December holiday season without encroaching on other adjacent holidays, both religious ones such as Christmas and secular ones such as Solstice.

There are eight days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Pfeffernusse Day, National Roots Day, and Festivus. I really didn’t like Seinfeld at all, so the whole Festivus thing is an odd concept to me.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1815, the novel Emma by Jane Austen was first published.
  • In 1893, the opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck was first performed.
  • In 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 became law in the United Kingdom. The act enabled women to join the professions and professional bodies, to sit on juries and be awarded degrees. It was a government compromise, a replacement for a more radical private members’ bill, the Women’s Emancipation Bill.
  • In 1928, NBC set up a permanent, coast-to-coast radio network.
  • In 1943, actor, voice artist, and comedian Harry Shearer was born.
  • In 1947, the transistor was first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories.
  • In 1954, the first successful kidney transplant was performed by J. Hartwell Harrison and Joseph Murray.
  • In 1978, Canadian swimmer, model, and actress Estella Warren was born.
  • In 1986, Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It was the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without aerial or ground refueling.
  • In 2002, Canadian actor and musician Finn Wolfhard was born.

December 23rd is the Night of the Radishes.

La Noche de Los Rábanos is an annual event held in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes to create scenes that compete for prizes in various categories.

The event has origins in the colonial period when radishes were introduced by the Spanish. Oaxaca has a long wood carving tradition and farmers began carving radishes into figures as a way to attract customers’ attention at the Christmas market, which was held in the main square on December 23rd. In 1897, the city created the formal competition, and as the city has grown, the city has had to dedicate land to the growing of the radishes used for the event, supervising their growth and distribution to competitors.

The event has become very popular, attracting hundreds of contestants and thousands of visitors. The event also has display and competitions for works made with corn husks and dried flowers, which are created with the same themes as those with radishes.

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.

The Thing About Today – December 22

December 22, 2020
Day 357 of 366

December 22nd is the 357th day of the year. It is Unity Day in Zimbabwe, commemorating the signing of the Unity Accord between Zimbabwe’s two major nationalists movements. The Zimbabwe African People’s Union led by Joshua Nkomo and the Zimbabwe African National Union led by Robert Mugabe signed the agreement on December 22, 1987, to form a united nationalist political party and end ethnic violence which had marred the country since the early 1980s.

There are nine days remaining in the year.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Date Nut Bread Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven conducted and performed in concert at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. The performance included the premiere of his Fifth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself), and Choral Fantasy (with Beethoven at the piano).
  • In 1858, Italian composer and educator Giacomo Puccini was born.
  • In 1891, asteroid 323 Brucia became the first asteroid discovered using photography.
  • In 1915, actress Barbara Billingsley was born.
  • In 1917, game show host Gene Rayburn was born.
  • In 1932, The Mummy was released.
  • In 1937, the Lincoln Tunnel opened to traffic in New York City.
  • In 1939, Indian Muslims observed a “Day of Deliverance” to celebrate the resignations of members of the Indian National Congress over their not having been consulted over the decision to enter World War II with the United Kingdom.
  • In 1945, journalist Diane Sawyer was born.
  • In 1947, author and screenwriter Brian Daley was born.
  • In 1948, actress and singer Lynne Thigpen was born.
  • In 1962, English actor Ralph Fiennes was born.
  • In 1964, the first test flight of the SR-71 Blackbird took place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
  • In 1965, screenwriter David S. Goyer was born.
  • In 1968, actress Dina Meyer was born.
  • In 1989, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opened after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.
  • In 2010, the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals from serving openly in the United States military, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

December 22nd is National Mathematics Day in India.

The Indian government declared the date on February 26, 2012. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced it at Madras University during the inaugural ceremony of the celebrations that marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. The announcement also contained the proclamation that 2012 would be celebrated as the National Mathematics Year.

Since that event, India’s National Mathematics Day has become an annual celebration with numerous educational events held at schools and universities throughout the country, especially the 2017 opening of the Ramanujan Math Park in Kuppam, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.

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.