ON THIS DAY: December 31, 2019

December 31st is

Champagne Day

Make Up Your Mind Day

Universal Hour of Peace *

World Healing Day

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MORE! Henri Matisse, Selma Burke and Garry Kasparov, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Global – New Year’s Eve

Australia – Sydney: Harbour Bridge
New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display

Azerbaijan –
Solidarity Day of World Azerbaijanis

Brazil – Rio de Janeiro: Rio New Year’s Eve

Botswana – Francistown: Goledzwa Music Festival

Canada – Beaumont: Beaumont
New Years Eve Community Festival

East Timor – National Heroes Day

Finland – Helsinki: FiKi Festival

France – Chassieu: Fcknye Festival

Ghana – Accra: International Essence
Global Black Economic Forum

Japan – Ōmisoka Hatsumōde
(New year’s eve/worship, visits to shrines)

Mexico – Oaxaca: Nacubi Music Festival

Montserrat – New Year’s Festival Day

Peru – Quillabamba: El Festival del Año

Philippines – Bisperás ng Bagong Taón
(Last day of the year holiday)

Russia – Novy God Eve (new years eve)

Scotland – Hogmanay (Auld year’s night)

South Africa – Ulundi: Umgruvo Music Festival

Switzerland – Geneva: Restoration Day

United Kingdom – Allendale, Northumberland:
The Tar Bah’l Fire Festival

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On This Day in HISTORY

406 – Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul

1225 – The Lý dynasty of Vietnam ends after 216 years with the enthronement of the boy emperor Trần Thái Tông, husband of the last Lý monarch, Lý Chiêu Hoàng, starting the Trần dynasty



1491 – Jacques Cartier born, French navigator and explorer

1493 – Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, born; she was largely responsible for the internal government of Urbino during her husband’s exile from 1521 to 1538, and a notable patron of the arts, including the Italian painter Titian


Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino by Titian

1514 – Andreas Vesalius born, Belgian anatomist, physician, and author



1600 – The British East India Company was incorporated by royal charter, created to compete in the East Indian spice trade

1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, taking vines with them that would become the foundation of the South African wine industry

1695 – The British window tax is imposed, resulting in many windows being bricked up

1711 – In spite of his military successes for England, the Duke of Marlborough is dismissed as commander-in-chief, in part due to a falling-out between his wife Sarah and Queen Anne, who dismissed her from court

John Churchill 1st Duke of Marlborough by Adriaen van der Werff

1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness

1790 – Efmeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived till today, is published for the first time

1796 – The incorporation of Baltimore as a city

1805 – Marie d’Agoult born in Germany, French historian and author who used the pen name Daniel Stern to publish her three volume Histoire de la révolution de 1848, and several other works, including her novels Nélida and Mes souvenirs;  after divorce from her husband, the Comte d’Agoult in 1835, she lived with Franz Liszt – they had three children together but never married

Marie d’Agoult by Henri Lehmann

1813 – Geneva’s re-establishment as a republic is proclaimed. Over 15 years after Napoleon annexed the city, the last French troops leave on December 30

1841 – Alabama becomes the first state to issue dental licenses

1853 – A New Years Eve dinner party for 21 scientists is held inside a life size model of an Iguanodon dinosaur on the grounds of the Crystal Palace in London. Sculptor Benjamin W. Hawkins teamed up with paleontologist Richard Owen to create more than 2 dozen life-size models of dinosaurs for a special exhibit



1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decides to make Ottawa the capital of Canada

1862 – U.S. President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union

1869 – Henri Matisse born, French painter and sculptor


Dance II – 1910 by Henri Matisse

1874 – Holbrook Jackson born, British editor, essayist, critic, poet and journalist; noted for The Anatomy of Bibliomania and The Fear of Books 

1877 – U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes is the first U.S. President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House

1878 – ‘Elizabeth Arden’ born as Florence Nightingale Graham; Canadian-American businesswoman who founded Elizabeth Arden, Inc. By 1929, she owned 150 salons in Europe and the United States, and her products were being sold in 22 countries. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career she was one of the wealthiest women in the world. Archrival of Helen Rubenstein



1880 – George Catlett Marshall born, U.S. Army Chief of Staff (1939-1945), U.S. Secretary of State (1947-1949), spearheaded the post-WWII European recovery plan,  known as the Marshall Plan, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953



1891 – New York’s new Immigration Depot opens on Ellis Island, with improved facilities to cope with the massive numbers of arrivals

1897 – Brooklyn NY spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City

1900 – Selma Burke born, sculptor, part of Black Renaissance under Augusta Savage, created artwork for “Roosevelt dime,” established Selma Burke Art Center (1970s)


Selma Burke with WPA project, 1935

1905 – Jule Styne born, English-American composer



1905 – Helen Dodson Prince born, American astronomer; pioneer in work on solar flares, also studied the spectroscopy of 25 Orionis; during WWI, worked at MIT on radar



1908 – Simon Wiesenthal born, Ukrainian-Austrian Nazi hunter and author

1909 – Jonah Jones born, American trumpet player and saxophonist

1914 – Mary Logan Reddick born, African-American neuroembryologist; noted for worked on embryo chick blastoderm, transplanting tissues, nerve cell differentiation and time-lapse microscopy; first woman biology instructor at Morehouse College in 1939; she was a full professor and chair of the biology department at the University of Atlanta (1953- 1966)



1917 – During WWI, sugar rationing begins in Britain

1919 – Recy Taylor born, black American sharecropper. When she was a 24-year-old wife and mother walking home from church with two friends on the evening of September 3, 1944, she was abducted and raped by six white men armed with guns and knives. After she reported the crime, white vigilantes set her porch on fire. The story was widely covered in the black press, and the NAACP sent Rosa Parks, later famed for refusing to give up her seat on the bus, as an investigator. In spite of the outcry among African-Americans, including prominent black leaders like W.E.B. Dubois, across the nation, two all-white-male grand juries refused to indict the men, even though one of them admitted to having sex with her, but claimed the men had paid her. In 2010, historian Danielle L. McGuire published her doctoral dissertation, “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — a New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.” Her account of Recy Taylor’s story prompted the Alabama Legislature to issue an official apology to Mrs. Taylor in 2011, calling the failure to prosecute her attackers “morally abhorrent and repugnant.”



1919 – Carmen Contreras-Bozak born in Puerto Rico, first Hispanic American to serve in the U.S. Women’s Army Corp (WAC) and one of the first to go overseas, working as an interpreter and also transmitting encoded messages (1942-1945)



1923 – In London, the BBC first broadcasts the chimes of Big Ben

1925 – Daphne Oram born, British composer and pioneer in electronic music



1926 – Valerie Pearl born, British historian noted for work on the English Civil War; Lecturer in History at Somerville College, Oxford

1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians play “Auld Lang Syne” as their New Year’s Eve song for the first time

1930 – Odetta Holmes born, known simply as Odetta, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, civil and human rights activist, “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”



1937 – Tess Jaray born, British painter-printmaker; has completed a number of major public art projects, including the terrazzo pattern design for the London Victoria train station and the forecourt of the new British Embassy in Moscow; Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects


 The Edge of Printing, by Tess Jaray 

1938 – The Harger ‘Drunkometer’, the first alcohol breath testing device, was introduced in Indiana

1940 – During a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers and Publishers), the radio industry was banned for ten months from playing any ASCAP-licensed music

1943 – John Denver born, American singer-songwriter-guitarist

1946 – U.S. President Truman proclaims the end of WWII hostilities

1946 – Servicio de Transportes Eléctricos del Distrito Federal (Electric Transport Service of the Federal District) for Mexico City is created by the Mexican Federal District government; primarily a Trolleybus system, but it also has a light trail line

1949 – Ellen Datlow born, American scifi/fantasy/horror anthologist and author; fiction editor of Omni magazine (1981-1998); honored in 2014 with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement



1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to earn over a billion dollars in a single year

1960 – The farthing coin, used in Britain since the 13th century, ceases to be legal tender



1961 – The U.S. Marshall Plan expires after distributing over $12 billion in foreign aid

1965 – Julie Doucet born, Canadian underground cartoonist and artist; best known for  Dirty Plotte, My New York Diary and The Madame Paul Affair



1972 – Joey McIntyre born, American singer-songwriter, New Kids on the Block

1974 – Private U.S. citizens are allowed to buy/own gold for the first time in 40 years

1978 – Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the last time from their Washington DC embassy flagpole, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

1979 – Year-end oil prices are 88% higher than at the start of 1979

1990 – Titleholder Garry Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. wins the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov



1995 – Dr. Barbara Condron of the School of Metaphysics launched the first Universal Hour of Peace * on October 24, to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and the autumnal equinox – it is now celebrated annually from 11:30 PM on December 31 to 12:30 AM on January 1



1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigns and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is designated acting president

1999 – The world’s oldest person, Sarah Knauss, dies at age 119 years. She was born September 24, 1880

2004 – In Taiwan, the Taipei 101 skyscraper opens to the public

2009 – Both a ‘blue moon’ and a lunar eclipse occur

2011 – NASA puts the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory  satellites in orbit around the Moon



2017 – U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts announced that the judiciary system would undergo an evaluation to make sure that law clerks and other court employees were adequately protected from sexual harassment. The statement, in Roberts’ 2017 State of the Judiciary Report, came after a prominent appeals court judge, Alex Kozinski, stepped down in November after The Washington Post uncovered allegations that he had subjected former law clerks and other women to sexually inappropriate conduct. “Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune,” Roberts wrote

2017 – State TV in Iran reported that at least 10 people were killed in anti-government street protests in the troubled nation. Tens of thousands of people have participated in the demonstrations, which spread across the nation for several days in the most significant challenge to the Islamic Republic’s leadership since 2009 calls for reform. Demonstrators demanded Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down, expressing anger about corruption and the state of their economy. Some chanted that the government was full of thieves and should focus on creating jobs rather than pursuing costly proxy wars in Syria and other countries in a battle for regional influence against rival Saudi Arabia

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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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