ON THIS DAY: December 12, 2018

December 12th is

Gingerbread House Day *

National Ambrosia Day

National Ding-a-Ling Day *

National Poinsettia Day *


MORE! Edvard Munch, Ulrike Tillmann and Jomo Kenyatta, click



Kenya – Jamhuri Day
(National Day)

Mexico – Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day

Russia – Constitution Commemoration

Turkmenistan – Neutrality Day
(Permanent neutrality declaration)


On This Day in HISTORY

627 – Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602-628, Battle of Ninevah: The Byzantine army of Emperor Heraclius defeats General Rhahzadh’s Persian forces of Emperor Khosrau II. This will resulte in a civil war in Persia, and for a short period, the restoration of the ancient Middle East boundaries of the Roman Empire. But the Rashidun Caliphate will rise in 632, and begin a rapid military expansion

Battle of Nineveh between the Byzantines and Sassanids
15th Century Fresco by Piero della Francesca

884 – King Carloman II dies after a hunting accident. He is succeeded by his cousin, emperor Charles the Fat, who for the last time reunites the Frankish Empire

1685 – Lodovico Giustini born, Italian composer and keyboard player; the first known composer to writer music for the piano, 12 Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti, Op.1, publishe din Florence in 1732; in 1725, he took over from his father as the organist of Congregazione dello Spirito Santo, a religious group, and was noted for his cantatas and oratorios, until 1734, when he was hired as organist at S Maria dell’Umiltà, the Cathedral of Pistoia, where he remained for the rest of his life

1787 – Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution

1800 – Washington D.C. is established as the capital of the United States

View of the original Capitol building in Washington D.C.
watercolor by William Birch, circa 1800

1805 – William Lloyd Garrison born, American journalist abolitionist, suffragist and social reformer; co-founder of The Liberator, a weekly abolitionist (and later also women’s rights) newspaper, published from 1831 to 1865

1821 – Gustave Flaubert born, French author and playwright; Madame Bovary

1851 – Joel Roberts Poinsett dies, American physician, diplomat and avid amateur botanist, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. He sents samples of a Mexican plant to the U. S. which by 1836 is widely known as the “poinsettia” – December 12 becomes National Poinsettia Day * in 2002, to honor both Poinsett, and Paul Ecke, whose development of the Poinsettia plant greatly advances its popularity as an American holiday tradition

1863 – Edvard Munch born, Norwegian painter and illustrator

The Scream, by Edvard Munch

1870 – Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina takes his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first black congressman

1875 – Gingerbread Decorating Day * – The Gingerbread Man becomes traditional holiday fare when a fairytale is published in Saint Nicholas magazine about him, in which he is eventually eaten by a hungry fox. Making gingerbread houses becomes popular after the Brothers Grimm publish Hansel and Gretel, because the witch’s house they find in the forest is made of sugar, cake and gingerbread

1881 – Arthur Garfield Hays born, American civil liberties lawyer; a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and its general counsel 1920-1954

1884 – Zinaida Serebriakova born, Russian-French painter who left Russia after the October Revolution and became a French citizen in 1947

At the Dressing-Table, self-portrait – by Zinaida Serebriakova

1887 – Kurt Atterberg born, Swedish composer and cellist

1897 – Belo Horizonte, the first planned city in Brazil, is founded

Belo Horizonte in 1950

1897 – Rudolf Dirks’ pioneering comic strip, The Katzenjammer Kids, debuts in the New York Journal

1899 – George Grant patents the wooden golf tee

1901 – Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal (the letter “S” in Morse Code), at Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland

1909 – Karen Morley born, American film actress, whose career began when she was seen by director Clarence Brown after working at the Pasadena Playhouse, and she became a stand-in for Greta Garbo in screen tests. She was soon signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and cast in roles in major films in the 1930s like Mata Hara, Scarface, Dinner at Eight, and Our Daily Bread. In the 1940s, she was in several Broadway productions, but her career came to an end in 1947, when she appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee and refused to answer questions about her alleged American Communist Party membership. After being blacklisted, she remained a political activist, and ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of New York on the American Labor Party ticket. In the 1970s, she was cast in a few guest roles on TV series, and appeared in the 1993 documentary television series, The Great Depression, talking about the making of Our Daily Bread, and being overwhelmed by all the poverty and suffering during the Depression, in such contrast to her privileged life as a Hollywood actress 

Karen Morley in publicity still from Our Daily Bread

1911 – Delhi replaces Calcutta as the capital of India; and British King George V and Queen Mary are enthroned as Emperor and Empress of India

1913 – The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition: Following a speaking tour in Brazil and Argentina, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt meets up with Brazilian explorer Cândido Rondon to embark on a joint exploration of the Rio da Dúvida (River of Doubt) in the Amazon basin. They collected many new animal and insect specimens for the American Museum of Natural History, which partially sponsored the expedition. But the expedition was plagued by malaria, ill-conceived and inadequate food supplies, and hard-to-control dugout canoes. Three members of the expedition died, and Roosevelt himself was gravely ill from an infected leg wound. He never fully recovered his health, and died less than five years later

Theodore Roosevelt with Cândido Rondon

1914 – Patrick O’Brian born as Richard Patrick Russ, English novelist; noted for his Aubrey-Maturin series set during the Napoleonic Wars

1914 – The New York Stock Exchange re-opened for the first time since July 30; the market shut down when World War I broke out

1915 – President of the Republic of China, Yuan Shikai, after reinstating many elements of Confucianism so he can performs ritual as de facto head of the old state religion, convenes a hand-picked “Representative Assembly” which votes unanimously to reinstate the monarchy and offers him the throne on November 20, 1915. On December 12, he proclaims himself Emperor of China, which sets off the ‘National Protection War’

1915 – Frank Sinatra born, American singer, one of the most popular and best-selling music artists of the 20th century

1917 – In Nebraska, Father Edward J. Flanagan founds Boys Town as a farm village for wayward boys

1918 – Joe Williams born, American jazz singer and pianist

1919 – Benjamin Magson Kies born, South African lawyer and political activist; when he was 12, Kies and his brother were excluded from the Woodstock Anglican Church choir because they were too dark-skinned; after earning a BA and a Masters from the University of Cape Town, he began work as a high school teacher. In 1937 he joined the New Era Fellowship, a leftist debating society, where he was an outspoken critic of colonialism and white supremacy. In 1947 was a founding member of the Non-European Unity Movement, and was also a founding contributor of The Torch newspaper. When he incorporated his political activism into his teaching, in 1961 he was dismissed from his post, and banned by the apartheid government from attending any public gatherings in South Africa or South West Africa (now Namibia.) He went back to school, and earned a law degree, then practiced as an advocate in the rural areas around Cape Town. He fought many political cases in court, and continued to practice law until his death in 1979. Kies was awarded the Order of the Disa for his political and legal activism by the Department of the Premier of Western Cape Province

1925 – The Majlis (parliament) of Iran votes to crown Reza Khan as the new Shah of Iran, starting the Pahlavi dynasty

1925 – The Motel Inn, the first motel, opens in San Luis Obispo, CA

1928 – Helen Frankenthaler born, American abstract expressionist painter

Helen Frankenthaler-sitting-amidst-her-art-in-her-NYC-studio,
photo by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine circa 1956

1929 – John Osborne born, English playwright-screenwriter – Look Back in Anger

1930 – Silvio Santos born as Senor Abravanel, Brazilian media tycoon and television host of the second longest-running Brazilian program, Programa Silvio Santos (1963–present); he is a major stockholder in SBT (Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão), the second largest TV network in Brazil, and the biggest individual taxpayer in the country

1935 – Lebensborn (‘fount of life’) Project is founded by Heinrich Himmler to raise the birth rate of  ‘Aryan’ children through extramarital relations with unmarried women classified as “racially pure and healthy” by the Nazi regime whose children would be put up for adoption by approved families

1940 – Dionne Warwick born, American singer, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador (2002)

1941 – Adolf Hitler declares the imminent extermination of the Jews at a meeting with the highest-ranking officials of the Nazi party in his private rooms in the Reich Chancellery – no official record was kept, but Joseph Goebbels and Hans Frank both wrote about it in their diaries

1945 – Portia Simpson-Miller born, Jamaican politician, leader of the People’s National Party 2006-2017; Prime Minister of Jamaica 2006-2007 and 2013-2016

1945 – Tony Williams born, American Jazz drummer, a pioneer in jazz fusion

1946 – A United Nations committee votes to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate to be the site of the UN’s headquarters, offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller Jr.

1947 – The United Mine Workers withdraw from the American Federation of Labor

1951 – Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the U.S., leads services for the Temple Beth Israel congregation in Meridian, Mississippi

1955 – Bill Haley and the Comets record “See You Later Alligator”

1955 – Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki born, Greek shipping business executive, and politician. Elected to the Athens Municipal Council in 1986, and to the Greek Parliament in 1989. In 1998, she was appointed as Ambassador at Large by the Greek government.  Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was also president of the Athens Organizing Committee for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games (2000-2005)

1956 – Beginning of the Irish Republican Army’s “Border Campaign” of guerrilla warfare against targets in Northern Ireland, aimed at overthrowing British rule

1957 – Sheila E. born, American singer-songwriter-drummer; The Glamorous Life

1962 – Ulrike Tillmann born, German mathematician and algebraic topologist; she has made important contributions to study of the moduli space of algebraic curves

1963 – Kenya gains its independence from the United Kingdom; in 1964, Kenya is declared a Republic

1964 – Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta becomes first President of the Republic of Kenya


1964 – The Righteous Brothers release “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”

1964 – Reeta Chakrabarti born, English journalist, political correspondent and presenter for the BBC; patron of the National Mentoring Consortium, which links ethnic minority undergraduates with employers

1968 – Rory Kennedy born, American documentary filmmaker and social activist; her films have focused on issues like addiction in Women of Substance, poverty in American Hollow, the international AIDS crisis in Pandemic: Facing AIDS, the hazards of nuclear power in Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable, labor history in Homestead Strike, and prisoners of war in Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, which won a 2007 Primetime Emmy Ward for Best Documentary.  She is the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy

1969 – Madeleine Sophie Townley born, whose pen names are Sophie Kinsella and Madeleine Wickham; English author noted for comic novels, including Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Sleeping Arrangements and her Shopaholic series

1970 – Steven Stills releases “Love the One You’re With”

1971 –National Ding-A-Ling Day * is started by the Ding-A-Ling clubs as a day to rekindle old friendships by calling people not seen or heard from in years

1975 – Sara Jane Moore pleads guilty to trying to assassinate U.S. President Ford

1975 – Mayim Bialik born, American actress, author and neuroscientist

1979 – The unrecognized state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia returns to British control and resumes using the name Southern Rhodesia

1982 – Protesting against proposed placing U.S. Cruise missiles at the base, 20,000 women encircle Greenham Common air base in Britain

1989 – Leona Helmsley, ‘the Queen of Mean’ is fined $7 million and sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion

1991 – The Russian Federation gains independence from the USSR

1995 – The U.S. Senate stopped a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against the American flag

1997 – The U.S. Justice Department orders Microsoft to sell its Internet browser separately from the Windows OS to prevent a monopoly of Web access programs

2000 – The Republican-appointed majority on the U.S. Supreme Court releases its decision in Bush v. Gore, halting the vote recount in Florida, and giving the election to George W. Bush

2001 – The U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation to implement minimum federal election standards and provide funding to help states modernize voting systems

2009 – Houston becomes the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker

2013 – Hawaii becomes the 16th state to approve same-sex marriage


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 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.
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