ON THIS DAY: December 17, 2018

December 17th is

Maple Syrup Day

The Nutcracker Day *

Wright Brothers Day *


MORE! Simón Bolívar, Mary Cartwright and Zwelakhe Sisulu, click



Pagan: Saturnalia – gift-giving, gambling, hat-wearing, drinking and feasting in honor of the Roman god Saturn

Bhutan – National Day

Germany – Ulm:
Stadthaus Reel Film Festival

Mexico – Las Posadas (until 12-24-18)
(Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem)


On This Day in HISTORY

497 BC – The first Saturnalia festival is celebrated in ancient Rome

Painting by Roberto Bompiani 1875  (this is pretty tame for
Saturnalia, but most of the other works of art were X-rated)

1398 – Tamerlane, also called Amir Timur, wins the battle against Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq, and sacks the city of Delhi in northern India, leaving it in ruins

1538 – Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII of England

1556 – Rahim born Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, Mughal poet and dewan (court minister), one of the nine Navaratnas, to Mughal Emperor Akbar; noted for dohas (Urdu self-contained rhyming couplets composed in Mātrika metre), books on astrology, and a translation of Babar’s memoirs, Baburnama, from the Chagatai language into Persian

Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana being received by Akbar

1616 – Sir Roger L’Estrange born, English Royalist and pamphleteer; An Account of the Growth of Knavery

1734 – Dona Maria I born, the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal (1777-1816)  and the first monarch of Brazil (1815-1816), after her court moved from Portugal to Brazil during the Napoleonic Wars, and the colony was elevated to the Kingdom of Brazil. She was called A Louca (the Mad) because of her mental deterioration, which began in 1786. By 1792, she was declared insane by Francis Willis, the same physician who attended King George III of England. Her eldest surviving son, John, took over as Prince Regent, until her death in 1816, when he became John VI, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves

1749 – Domenico Cimarosa born, Italian opera composer;  Il matrimonio segreto, Oreste 

1777 – American Revolution: France formally recognizes the United States

1778 – Humphry Davy born, English chemist and physicist

1790 – During repair work on the Mexico City Cathedral, workers discover the Aztec calendar stone

1797 – Joseph Henry born, American scientist who worked on electromagnets; served as First Secretary of the Smithsonian

1807 – John Greenleaf Whittier born, American Quaker poet, editor and abolitionist

1819 – Simón Bolívar declares the independence of Gran Colombia in Angostura, now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela

1865 – First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert

1873 – Ford Madox Ford, English novelist, poet and editor; The Good Soldier

1874 – Mackenzie King born, Canadian economist and politician, longest-serving Canadian Prime Minister; led the country during WWII, mobilizing supplies and volunteers to support Britain

1884 – Alison Uttley born as Alice Jane Taylor, prolific English author, mostly of children’s books, noted for her Little Grey Rabbit series, and a pioneering time slip children’s novel, A Traveller in Time

1892 – The Nutcracker Day * – The first performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker in St. Petersburg Russia

1894 – Edwin J. Cohn, American biochemist whose method of separating blood plasma proteins (blood fractionation) was used in lifesaving treatments of WWII soldiers

1894 – Arthur Fiedler born, American conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra

1900 – Dame Mary Cartwright born, British mathematician; first woman to earn a first in mathematics at Oxford; a pioneer in what is now called chaos theory

1903 – Wright Brothers Day * – The Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at  Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

1903 – Ray Noble born, English bandleader, composer, “Love Is the Sweetest Thing”

1903 – Erskine Caldwell born, American novelist; Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre

1910 – Sy Oliver, American Jazz composer-arranger-bandleader

1916 – Penelope Fitzgerald born, historical novelist, biographer and essayist; 1979 Book Prize for her novel Offshore, and the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award for The Blue Flower, an historical novel which was her final work

1918 – 1,000 demonstrators from the Australian Workers’ Union, angry about taxation, wage and employment issues, march on Government House in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

1928 – Marilyn Beck, American print journalist, syndicated columnist and author; her 1960 interview with serial kidnapper-rapist Caryl Chessman on death row at San Quentin shortly before his execution helped launch her early career; in 1970, she was named as Sheila Graham’s successor, covering Hollywood for the North American Newspaper Alliance; her column moved to the New York Times in 1972

1929 – William Safire born, American journalist and author, On Language, Safire’s Political Dictionary

1930 – Dorothy Rowe born, Australian psychologist and author, with a specialty in depression; Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison, Beyond Fear

1935 – First flight of the Douglas DC-3

1940 – María Elena Velasco born, one of Mexico’s few major women filmmakers, also an actress and screenwriter

1942 – Paul Butterfield born, American blues harmonica player and singer; The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

1943 – The ban on Chinese immigrants becoming U.S. citizens is lifted by repeal of the Act of 1882 and the introduction of the Magnuson Act

1944 – The U.S. Army announces the end of its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Japanese-Americans are released from detention camps

1945 – Jacqueline Wilson born, British children’s author; noted for Tracy Beaker series; won the Smarties Prize, and was the fourth British Children’s Laureate (2005-2007)

1947 – First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber

1950 – Zwelakhe Sisulu born, South African black journalist, newspaper founder and editor; anti-apartheid activist; president of the Writers’ Association of South Africa (later Mwasa, the Black Media Workers Association), leader of a year-long strike  in 1980 for fair wages for black journalists; imprisoned three times by the apartheid regime for his journalism; son of prominent African National Congress members Walter and Albertina Sisulu; noted for his reports on the Soweto uprising in The Rand Daily Mail in 1976, and as the founder-editor of the New Nation (1986-1997). His paper’s masthead called it “the media of the powerless”

1951 – The American Civil Rights Congress delivers “We Charge Genocide” to the United Nations

1953 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to approve RCA’s color television specifications

1955 – Carl Perkins writes the song “Blue Suede Shoes”

1957 – The United States successfully launches the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile at Cape Canaveral FL

1959 – The film On the Beach premiered in New York City and in 17 other cities, the first motion picture to debut simultaneously in major cities around the world

1960 – Troops loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia crush the coup that began December 13, returning power to their leader upon his return from Brazil.

1966 – Kristiina Ojuland born, Estonian politician; Estonian member of the European Parliament (2009-2014); Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-2005)

1967 – Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears while swimming near Portsea, Victoria, and is presumed drowned

1969 – The U.S. Air Force closes its Project “Blue Book” concluding that there is no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings

1978 – OPEC decides to raise oil prices by 14.5% by the end of 1979

1986 – Davina Thompson became the world’s first recipient of a heart, lungs, and liver transplant

1989 – The animated TV series The Simpsons premieres

1992 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

1993 – U.S Troops pull out of Somalia following a series of gun battles with Somali militias under warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid, which left 16 American soldiers dead amd 24 wounded. The Americans were originally sent to Somalia to provide security for humanitarian organisations operating in Somalia. The U.S. military intervention was unusual because the government of Somalia did not request or approve it. However, the American government argued that since the Somali government had collapsed a year earlier, and the dire humanitarian situation in Somalia caused by famine and civil war was actually worsening, intervention on humanitarian grounds was justifiable

2003 – SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first powered and first supersonic flight

2005 – Anti-World Trade Organization protesters riot in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

2010 – Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor in Sidi Bouzid, after local police confiscated his wheelbarrow full of fresh produce and publically humiliated him, sets himself on fire. He dies 14 days later, but his death acts as a trigger for the mass uprising of the Jasmin Revolution, which forces Tunisian President Zine Ek Abidine Ben Ali to step down after 23 years in office

2014 – The United States and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations after severing relations 55 years before

2016 – Ethiopia officially opens the Omo River Gibe III hydroelectric dam, one of the biggest in Africa, that is predicted to double the country’s electricity output. Critics are concerned about this dam’s impact on locals, on the environment and on neighboring countries, because water levels downstream are dramatically decreased. Kenya’s Lake Turkana derives 80% 0f its resources from the Omo River. It has been the world’s largest permanent desert lake, and the Lake Turkana National Parks are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site


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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