ON THIS DAY: December 23, 2017

December 23rd is

Festivus *

HumanLight Day *

Pfeffernüsse Day

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MORE! James Gibbs, Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Egypt – Suez Victory Day

Japan – Tenno Tanjobi
(Emperor’s birthday)

Mexico – Oaxaca: Noche de los Rábanos
(Night of the radishes – radish carving)

Sweden – Queen Silvia’s Birthday

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On This Day in HISTORY

484 – Gunthamund succeeds his uncle Huneric as king of the Vandals; during his reign, the persecution of Roman Catholics eased, stabilizing the kingdom’s economy

562 – Hagia Sophia in Constantinople reopens with a rebuilt dome after a series of earthquakes caused the original to collapse



583 – Yohl Ik’nal is crowned as the first recorded female ruler of the Mayan city-state of Palenque, one of only a few women to have the full royal title


Lady Yohl Ik’nal, and the Palenque ruins


1572 – Theologian Johann Sylvan is executed in Heidelberg for his heretical
Antitrinitarian beliefs, as expounded in his manifesto, True Christian Confession of the Ancient Faith of the One True God and of Messiah Jesus of the True Christ, against the Three-Person Idol and the Two-Natured False Deity of the Antichrist

1648 –Robert Barclay born in Scotland, eminent American Quaker writer and leader; Treatise on Universal Love (1677)

1682 – James Gibbs born, influential Scottish architect who trained in Rome, and practiced mainly in England; his work spanned the transition from late Baroque to the Georgian period; designed St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London, and the cylindrical, domed Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University


Interior of St Martin-in-the-Fields


1783 – George Washington returns home to Mount Vernon, after the disbanding of his army following the Revolutionary War

1788 – Maryland votes to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government. About two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia

1790 – Jean-Francois Champollion born, French philologist and pioneer in the field of Egyptology; deciphered the Rosetta Stone, a major breakthrough in understanding ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs



1823 – The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore (‘Twas the night before Christmas…) is published



1834 – English architect Joseph Hansom patents his ‘safety cab’, the Hansom cab

1850 – Oscar S. Straus born in Bavaria, the first Jewish U.S. Cabinet member, as Secretary of Commerce and Labor under Theodore Roosevelt (1906-1909); U.S. Envoy (1887-1889), then U.S. Minister (1898-1899) and finally U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1909-1910)



1852 – The Theatre of Celestial John opens on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco CA, the first Chinese theatre in the U.S.

1856 – Ralph Collier patents the first rotary egg beater with rotating parts

1858 – Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko born, Russian theatre administrator, producer, director, and playwright; co-founder in 1898 with Konstantin Stanislavski of the Moscow Art Theatre

1860 – Harriet Monroe born, American editor, scholar, literary critic and poet, founding publisher and editor of Poetry magazine



1867 – ‘Madame Walker,’ Sarah Breedlove Walker born, American businesswoman and philanthropist; considered the first black female millionaire

1888 – After a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh cuts off part of his own earlobe


Self-Portrait with Bandages, by Vincent Van Gogh


1893 – First performance of the Engelbert Humperdinck opera Hansel und Gretel in Weimar, Germany

1902 – Norman Maclean born, American author and scholar,  A River Runs Through It, Young Men and Fire



1912 – Anna J. Harrison born, American organic chemist, first woman president of the American Chemical Society; active supporter of women in science; during WWII, conducted secret research on toxic smoke which led to the creation of smoke-detecting field kits for the U.S. Army; her post-war research focused on organic compounds and their interaction with light; served on the National Board of Science (1972-1978) and as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1983

1913 – The Federal Reserve Bill is signed into law by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, establishing 12 Federal Reserve Banks

1919 – The USS Reliefand, first hospital transport ship is launched, carrying 515 beds

1919 – By Act of British Parliament and Royal Assent, the Sex Disqualification Removal Act 1919 amends the laws disqualifying a person on account of sex or marriage from public function or vocation, lifting the bans on women in civil service, juries and higher education

1922 – The British Broadcasting Corporation begins daily news broadcasts

1939 – Nancy Graves born, American sculptor, painter and printmaker; elected to the National Academy of Design (1992); died of ovarian cancer in 1995

 “Enfolded Order” (1989),  by Nancy Graves


1942 – Bob Hope entertains U.S. airmen in Alaska, the first of many Christmas shows

1947 – Bell Laboratories demonstrates their transistor

1954 – Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea premieres, starring James Mason, Kirk Douglas and Paul Lukas



1955 – Carol Ann Duffy born, Scottish poet and playwright, the first woman, first Scot and first openly LGBT person appointed as Britain’s Poet Laureate (May 2009)



1956 – Egypt liberates Port Said, ending the Suez Crisis

1959 – The Drifters record “This Magic Moment”



1963 – Donna Tartt born, American novelist; won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch

1966 – The first U.S. celebration of Festivus * but it is brought into popularity by an episode of the Jerry Seinfeld Show which first airs on December 18, 1997

1981 – NASA approves a plan to continue the Voyager II spacecraft on a trajectory that would take it within 66,000 miles of Uranus by July 1986

1986 – The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completes its first non-stop, around-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base CA



1990 – In a referendum, 88.5% of Slovenia’s overall electorate vote for independence from Yugoslavia

2001 – HumanLight Day * founded by the New Jersey Humanist Network as a secular humanist celebration of the Winter Solstice



2007 – An agreement is reached to abolish the Kingdom of Nepal and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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