ON THIS DAY: December 24, 2019

December 24th is

Christmas Eve

Eggnog Day *

Silent Night Day *

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MORE! Lydia Koidula, Wilton Mkwayi and Tarja Halonen, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Christianity – Christmas Eve

Canada – Toronto: Festival of Smalls (art)

China – Harbin: Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival

Costa Rica – Curridabat: Festival
Internacional de Coros Costa Rica por la paz

Czechia – Josefov:  Christmas Concert

Denmark & Norway – Juleaften/Julaften
(Jul – old Norse Yule)

Iceland – Aðfangadagskvöld
(arrival of the last of the Yule lads)

Indonesia – Cuti Bersama (collective leave holiday)

Japan – Takasaki:
Lake Haruna Illumination Festa

Latvia – Ziemassvētki
(Winter Solstice/Nativity) 

Libya – Independence Day

Micronesia – Yap Constitution Day

Morocco – Rabat: Festival Rabat Africa

New Zealand – Napier:
Night Before Christmas Tales

Peru – Machu Picchu: Christmas in Cusco

Poland – Wigilia (Christmas Eve) 

South Africa – Johannesburg:
Amashinga Festival

Spain – Nochebuena (good night)

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On This Day in HISTORY

502 – Chinese Emperor Wu (reign: 502-549) of the Liang dynasty names Crown Prince Xiao Tong as his heir designate, but Xiao Tong will die of an illness in 531



759 – Du Fu, prominent and prolific poet of the Tang dynasty, departs for a visit with fellow poet Pei Di, and stays for the next five years, a period of peace for him during a turbulent time of rebellion and famine

802 – Byzantine Emperor Leo V is assassinated in the palace chapel of St. Stephen at Constantinople and is succeeded by Michael II, whom he had imprisoned for suspicion of conspiracy. Michael is crowned early Christmas morning, with the heavy iron fetters still on his legs, because the key to them couldn’t be found



1144 – The city of Edessa (present-day Urfa in Turkey), the seat of the Crusader state of Edessa, falls to Imad ad-Din Zengi, the Oghuz Turkish atabeg (governor) of Mosul and Aleppo in Mesopotamia

1634 – Mariana of Austria born, Queen consort of Spain (1649-1665). When her husband died in 1665, she was appointed regent for her 3-year-old son Charles II, and due to his ill health remained an influential figure until her death in 1696. During her regency, she was engaged in a struggle with her son’s illegitimate half-brother, John of Austria the Younger, leader of one of the factions trying to oust Charles, and also faced Spain’s grave financial difficulties, caused by almost a century of continuous war, but later made even worse by the ‘Little Ice Age’ – a period of cold and wet weather that affected all of Europe. Between 1692 and 1699, between 5% and 10% of Europe’s population starved to death



1679 – Domenico Sarro born, Italian composer



1731 – Julie von Bondeli born, Swiss intellectual who hosted a scientific salon that became the center of cultural life in Bern; as a child, she was given a comprehensive education in languages, mathematics and philosophy, very rare for a girl in her time; she corresponded regularly with Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Sophie von La Roche



1761 – Jean-Louis Pons born, French astronomer, greatest naked-eye comet discoverer

1777 – James Cook finds Kiritimati, which he calls Christmas Island

1779? (exact year unknown) Eggnog Day * – George Washington writes down his Eggnog recipe, but forgets to say how many eggs he uses – other recipes from the period call for as many as a dozen eggs – Eggnog has been popular in the U.S. since colonial times, but beware! A single cup can have as many 400 calories, half of them from fat – a cup of Hot Mulled Apple Cider has 150-175 calories, and none of them are from fat



1809 – Kit Carson born, American frontiersman

1818 – Silent Night Day * Franz Gruber of Oberndorf composes the music for “Silent Night,” a poem written by Josef Mohr – performed that night at the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria

1822 – Matthew Arnold born, notable English poet, essayist and cultural critic; in 1851, he became an Inspector of Schools, and had to travel widely in Britain; he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857; among his best known poems are “Dover Beach” and “Thyrsis”



1826 – The Eggnog Riot took place at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. By the end of the riot, about a third of the cadets were involved, including future president of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis. A large amount of whiskey had been smuggled into the academy on December 22 to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party in the North Barracks. The eggnog party was started prematurely on Christmas Eve by nine North Barracks cadets in barracks room 28, and other cadets joined in as the word spread. Another party was started in room 5. By the time Reveille sounded at 6:05 AM, there was gunfire, glass breaking, profanity, cries of pain, and threats to academy officials, but the riot officially ended when the corps was called to attention in the mess hall, then dismissed for Chapel Formation, where a two hour service sobered most of the drunks. At a meeting of faculty and staff, it was announced that an inquiry would take place during semester finals in January, and 22 cadets were immediately placed under house arrest, including Jefferson Davis. The inquiry included testimony by 167 witnesses, including Robert E. Lee. A number of cadets were dismissed from the academy, and the worst offenders faced a court-martial, but no charges were filed against Jefferson Davis and he graduated in 1828. Nine cadets were expelled from the academy, but one became Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas in 1841, and another was later a Confederate general and then Governor of Mississippi (1865-1868)


West Point, circa 1880

1843 – Lydia Koidula born, pen name of Lydia Jannsen, Estonian poet and writer who, as a respectable young lady, had to publish her work anonymously in her father’s newspaper, the first Estonian language newspaper allowed  by the Russian Empire; her use of vernacular Estonian in her poetry had a major impact on Estonian letters



1851 – A fire devastates the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes

1865 – Several veterans of the Confederate Army form a private social club in Pulaski, TN, called the Ku Klux Klan

1868 – Emanuel Lasker born, German chess champion and mathematician



1869 – Henriette Roland Holst born, Dutch poet, writer and socialist; active in the Social-Democratic Party (SDP) which became the Communist Party of the Netherlands; was part of the Dutch Resistance during WWII


Henriette Roland Holst – by Michel de Klerk (1921)

1871 – In Cairo, Egypt, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida has its world premiere at the Khedivial Opera House


1877 – Sigrid Schauman born, Finnish artist and art critic; after her husband died, she worked for the newspaper Dagens Press nearly 30 years, publishing over 1500 art reviews, interviews and travel reports


Self-Portrait, and Town View, by Sigrid Schauman

1881 – Charles Wakefield Cadman born, American composer


1895 – Noel Streatfeild born, English children’s author, best known for her book Ballet Shoes, the first of her Shoes series


Illustration from Ballet Shoes

1895 – Marguerite Williams born, American geologist; first African American to earn a doctorate in geology in the U.S., from Catholic University of America; chair of the Geology Department of Miner Teacher’s College (1923-1933)



1900 – Hawayo Hiromi Takata born, Japanese-American master of Reiki, who helped introduce the spiritual practice to Westerners, she formed the American Reiki Association with Dr. Barbara Weber Ray, later renamed the Radiance Technique Association



1903 –Ava H. Pauling born, American human rights activist; campaigned for women’s rights, racial equality, international peace, and particularly against nuclear proliferation;  married to Linus Pauling; she volunteered for the American Civil Liberties Union in opposing the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, giving employment to one of the released internees, in spite of criticism; served as the national vice president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), helping to organize the “Women’s Peace March” in Europe



1905 – Howard Hughes born, American engineer-businessman-pilot

1906 – Reginald A. Fessenden is the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, MA

1906 – Anna Neethling Pohl born, South African actress, film producer and the first woman broadcaster for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC); she helped to found the Cape Afrikaans Theatrical Society, the volksteater in Pretoria and the National Drama Organisation; she also wrote under the pen names Niehausvor and Wynand du Preez, and translated seven of Shakespeare’s dramas into Afrikaans



1906 – Franz Waxman born, German-American composer



1910 – Fritz Lieber born, American author of fantasy, horror and science fiction; poet, actor, playwright and chess expert



1914 – The WWI ‘Christmas Truce’ begins, an unofficial and spontaneous ceasefire started by the troops on both sides

1920 – Yevgeniya Rudneva born, Russian astronomer who worked at the Moscow Solar department of the Astronomical-Geodesical Society of the USSR before WWII, and became the head navigator of the 46th Guards Night Bomber regiment during the war. She flew 645 night combat missions before her plane was shot down in 1944



1920 – Enrico Caruso gives his last public performance in Jacques Halevy’s La Juive at New York’s Metropolitan Opera



1923 – Wilton Z. Mkwayi born, South African trade unionist and acting leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK – ‘Spear of the Nation’). He was arrested and served a life sentence on Robben Island



1924 – Albania becomes a republic

1927 – Mary Higgins Clark born, prolific American author of suspense and mystery novels; dubbed “The Queen of Suspense”



1930 – Robert Joffrey born, American dancer-choreographer, founder of Joffrey Ballet



1931 – Ray Bryant born, American Jazz pianist and composer

1943 – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt appoints Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord

1943 – Tarja Halonen born, Finnish Social Democratic politician; first woman elected as President of Finland (2000-2012); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-2000); Minister of Justice (1990-1991); Member of Parliament for Helsinki (1979-2000)



1948 – A midnight Mass is broadcast for the first time on television, from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City

1950 – Dana Gioia born, American poet and critic, chair of the NEA (2003-2009)



1950 – Libby Larsen born, American orchestral composer; co-founder of the American Composers Forum



1951 – Libya declares its independence from France and Great Britain

1951 – NBC’s first broadcast of Amahl and the Night Visitors, an opera written for television by Gian Carlo Menotti



1954 – Helen M. Jones born, British Labour politician; Chair of the Petitions Committee since 2015; Vice-Chamberlain of the Household (2009-2010); Member of Parliament for Warrington North since 1997



1961 – Mary Barra born, Chair and CEO of General Motors Company since 2014; the first woman CEO of a major global automaker; GM Executive Vice President of Global Product Development (2011-2014); Vice President in various departments (2008-2011)



1965 – A meteorite weighing about 100 pounds lands in Leicestershire

1966 – Luna 13 lands on the moon

1966 – Tommy James records “I Think We’re Alone Now”

1968 – Three astronauts, James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman, reach the moon, orbiting it 10 times before coming back to Earth

1973 – District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington DC to elect their own local government

1973 – Stephenie Meyer born, American novelist and film  producer, best known for her Twilight fantasy vampire series



1973 – Ali Salem Tamek, Sarawi independence activist and trade unionist in Morocco; vice president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA); he has been jailed five times for nationalist activities, and his passport confiscated for a long period. Amnesty International has classified him as a prisoner of conscience, while Morocco accuses him of being an agent for the Polisario Front



1979 – Soviet troops invade Afghanistan in support its Marxist government

1989 – Ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega takes refuge at the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Panama City

2003 – Spanish police thwart an attempted bombing by the ETA, Basque separatist organization, in Madrid’s busy Chamartin Station



2017 – Firefighters continued to search for bodies of shoppers who became trapped in the fire at a Davao City shopping mall on December 23. There are 37 people confirmed dead, and the toll is expected to rise as the search continues

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 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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