ON THIS DAY: February 2, 2020

February 2nd is

Change Windshield Wipers Day *

Heavenly Hash Day

Hedgehog Day *

Play Your Ukulele Day

Sled Dog Day *

World Wetlands Day *


MORE! Alix Le Clerc, Todd Duncan and Arfa Randhawa, click



Christianity – Candlemas (purification of Mary/presentation of Jesus)

Argentina – San Fernando:
Festival de Doma y Folklore

Australia – South Perth:
Bach and Beer Festival

Brazil – Salvador: Festa da Lemanjá
(Sea and Fertility Goddess)

Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou:
Fespaco (African film festival)

Canada & the U.S. – Groundhog Day

Estonia – Treaty of Tartu (1920)

France – Avec Crêpe Day
(eat crepes day)

Ghana – Accra Region:
Rep an African Festival

India – Nashik: SulaFest

Italy – Bologna: Arte Fiera (art fair)

Mexico – Guadalajara: Vespa Festival

Poland – Traders’ Day

Russia – Battle of Stalingrad Victory

Singapore – Wan Qing Festival (spring)

South Africa – Cape Town:
eKasi Wine and Music Festival

Spain – Madrid: Iboga Winter Fest

Thailand – Inventors’ Day


On This Day in HISTORY

506 AD – Visigoth King Alaric II appoints Anianus as head of a committee to make a compilation of relevant Roman laws and imperial decrees as a governing code for his Roman subjects, now known as the Breviary of Alaric

880 AD – Louis III, King of West Francia, is defeated by the Norse Great Heathen Army at Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony; the Danish-Norwegian alliance routs the French in a snowstorm, and Louis’ troops are killed or captured

1141 – During ‘the Anarchy’ civil war, Empress Matilda’s allies capture Stephen, the rival claimant to the English throne, during the Battle of Lincoln

12th-century depiction of the wedding feast of Matilda and Henry V, soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor (however, she was actually only 12 at the time, so probably not very accurate)

1207 – Terra Mariana (Medieval Livonia) established (present-day Estonia and Latvia)

1426 – Eleanor of Navarre born, proclaimed as regent of Navarre (1455-1479), and was crowned Queen Regnant of Navarre on January 28, 1479, but died on February 12, 1479, and was succeeded by her grandson, Francis Phoebus

1576 – Alix Le Clerc born, who became Mother Teresa of Jesus, French foundress and first prioress of the Canonesses of St. Augustine of the Congregation of Our Lady, a Catholic religious order founded to provide free education for girls, especially those living in poverty; she offered members of the order a choice: they could either take public vows as canonesses, wearing the religious habit and observing full monastic enclosure, or they could take private vows as daughters of the congregation, and be free to leave the monastery for works of charity or on business for the order; Mother Teresa of Jesus was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1947; currently, there are missions and related offshoots in 43 countries; the work has expanded to include human rights advocacy, and assistance to migrants

Engraving detail of Alix Le Clerc kneeling
before the Virgin and the Infant Jesus 

1600 – Gabriel Naudé born, French librarian, scholar and author; built and maintained the library of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, France’s Chief Minister (1642-1661); Naudé is notable for his influential work, Advice on Establishing a Library

1653 – New Amsterdam (now New York City) is incorporated

1714 – Gottfried August Homilius born, German organist and composer

1754 – Charles Maurice de Talleyrand born, cynical, crafty and manipulative French politician

1795 – The French government offers a prize of 12,000 francs for a method of preserving food for the French army; eventually won by Nicholas Appert, inventor of a successful food canning method

1848 – The first ship with Chinese immigrants arrives in San Francisco

1848 – Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ends the U.S.- Mexican War

1851 – José Guadalupe Posada, influential Mexican satirical illustrator and engraver

Oaxaqueña calavera del montón #1 by José Guadalupe Posada
(roughly translates as ‘Oaxacan skull heap’)

1859 – Havelock Ellis – English essayist and social reformer

1861 – Solomon R. Guggenheim, American businessman and philanthropist, founder of the Guggenheim Museum

1868 – Pro-Imperial forces capture Osaka Castle from the Tokugawa shogunate and burn it to the ground

1869 – James Oliver invents the removable steel plow blade

1875 – Fritz Kreisler born in Vienna, American violin master and composer

1882 – James Joyce born, controversial Irish writer and poet

1883 –  Johnston McCulley, American author and screenwriter, created Zorro

1883 – Julia Nava de Ruisánchez born, Mexican writer, feminist, educator and Zapatista; she was a founding member of La Sociedad Protectora de la Mujer in 1904, considered Mexico City’s first feminist society; co-founder  in 1910 with Dolores Jiménez Muro of Club Femenil Antirreeleccionista Hijas de Cuauhtémoc (Anti-Reelectionist Women’s Club: Daughters of Cuauhtémoc); founder of the Centro Feminista Mexicano. The Zapatistas were  formed in 1910, an armed group led by Emiliano Zapata that took part in the Mexican Revolution; Nava raised funds, and worked in communication.  In 1926, she began work on establishing the first educational institution in Mexico for social work,  Escuela de Enseñanza Doméstica, which received official recognition in 1933. Graduates of the school became the first women social workers in Mexico

1887 – The first Groundhog Day is observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

1892 – William Painter patents a crown-cork bottle cap with a cork seal, used until the cork was replaced by a plastic liner in the 1970s

1897 – Gertrude Blanch born in Russia, American mathematician, and pioneer in numerical analysis and computation; mathematical leader of the Mathematical Tables Project (MTP) from its inauguration, started during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938, which kept 450 clerks working on tabulating higher mathematical functions (their results were later published in 28 volumes by Columbia University Press); MTP clerks also did calculations for a variety of war-related projects during WWII, and continued after the war, with a much smaller group, until 1948; in 1947, her career was temporarily hampered by FBI suspicions that she was secretly a communist. Their ‘evidence’ was tenuous at best, including comments on her never having married or had children. In a remarkable showdown, the diminutive fifty-year-old mathematician demanded, and won, a hearing which cleared her name; went on to work for the Institute for Numerical Analysis at UCLA and the Aerospace Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; a founder of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)


1897 – Howard D. Johnson is born, founder of Howard Johnson’s; and Alfred L. Cralle patents an ice cream scooper

1900 – Elena Sánchez Valenzuela born, one of Mexico’s first silent film stars, who also directed a documentary for the Mexican government, and campaigned successfully for the Filmoteca Nacional (Mexican National Film Library), founded in 1942 to collect and preserve the work of Mexican filmmakers; also an ardent feminist and suffragist, who participated in the 1947 Primer Congreso Interamericano de Mujeres (First Inter-American Congress of Women), called together by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

1901 – Jascha Heifetz born in Russia, American master violinist

1912 – Burton Lane born, American composer lyricist; Finian’s Rainbow and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; discovered Frances Gumm, aka Judy Garland

1903 – Todd Duncan born, African American baritone opera singer and actor; In 1933, Duncan debuted in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana at the Mecca Temple in New York with the Aeolian Opera, a black opera company. He was George Gershwin’s personal choice for the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess in 1935, and played the role more than 1,800 times. In 1936, he led the cast during the Washington run of Porgy and Bess at the National Theatre in protesting the theatre’s policy of segregation. Duncan stated that he “would never play in a theater which barred him from purchasing tickets to certain seats because of his race.” Eventually management gave and allowed the first integrated audience at the National Theatre. Duncan was also the first to play the role of Stephen Kumalo in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and performed in the London production of C.B.Cochran’s musical The Sun Never Sets at the Theatre Royal. In 1945, he became the first African American to sing with a major opera company, and the first black person to sing in an opera with an otherwise white cast, when he performed the role of Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci with the New York City Opera, and as Escamillo, the bullfighter, in Bizet’s Carmen. In 1955, Duncan was the first to record “Unchained Melody”, a popular song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. The recording was made for the soundtrack of the prison film Unchained, in which Duncan played a minor character. Following Duncan’s version, the song went on to become one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century. In 1978, the Washington Performing Arts Society held a gala for his 75th birthday, and in 1984, he was awarded the George Peabody Medal of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University

Todd Duncan, Anne Brown – “Bess, You is My Woman” – Porgy and Bess (1940)

1915 – Eban Abba born in Cape Town, South Africa, Israeli statesman; his family moved to Great Britain when he was a child; after graduating from Cambridge in 1938, he became a lecturer on Middle Eastern Language and Literature, then served in the British army during WWII. From 1944 to 1946, he was chief instructor at the Middle Eastern Center for Arab Studies in Jerusalem. He also worked at the Jewish Agency for Palestine before starting his diplomatic career in 1947 as liaison officer to the UN Special Committee on Palestine. In 1948, Eban was Israel’s United Nations (UN) representative and served simultaneously as ambassador to the United States from 1950 until his election to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in 1959 as a member of the Labour Party. He was Israel’s Foreign Minister (1966-1974)

1918 – Hella Haasse born, Dutch author, the “Grand Old Lady” of Dutch literature

1920 – Estonia and Soviet Russia sign the Tartu Peace Treaty, ending the Estonian War of  Independence; Estonia had been a province of Imperial Russia since 1710; the treaty, among other provisions, established the Estonian-Russian border, the right of Estonians  and Russians to return to their respective countries, and return to Estonia of movable property “evacuated” to Russia during WWII

1922 – Sylvia Beach publishes Ulysses by James Joyce in Paris, on Joyce’s 40th birthday

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce in the
entry to Shakespeare & Co in Paris

1923 – James Dickey born, American novelist and poet; Deliverance

1923 – Liz Smith born, American columnist and author; wrote columns for the New York Daily NewsThe Washington Post, and Cosmopolitan; co-founder of wowOwow.com, a website for women

1925 – Sled Dog Day * The ‘Great Race of Mercy’ aka ‘the Serum Run to Nome’ Alaska, which began on January 27, arrives in Nome with the first batch of diphtheria serum via a dogsled replay that covered 674 miles in 127 ½ hours in extreme subzero temperatures in near-blizzard and hurricane-force winds. Several of the dogs died, and the dog mushers suffered from frostbite and hypothermia. The modern-day Iditarod race is run over the same terrain in tribute to the teams who overcame such hardship

1927 – Stan Getz born, American jazz saxophonist

1929 – Věra Chytilová born, avant-garde Czech filmmaker, whose films were banned by the Czechoslovak government in the 1960s; noted for Sedmikrásky (Daisies, 1966), and Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise, 1969)

1931 – Judith Viorst born, American author of children’s books and humorous books for adults; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

1934 – FDR establishes by executive order the Export-Import Bank of the United States (abbreviated as Ex-Im Bank), the official export credit agency of the federal government, operating as a government corporation. Ex-Im Bank finances and insures foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk

1935 – Polygraph tests administered to two murder suspects, the first time polygraph evidence is admitted in a U.S. court

1937 – Tom Smothers born, American comedian, musician and political activist; best known for his collaboration with his brother Dick on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967-1969), and their long battle with the CBS network censors over their political satire, and references to sex, religion, recreational drugs, and the Vietnam War. CBS abruptly pulled the show from their schedule in 1969, violating the Smothers’ contract. The brothers filed a breach of contract suit against the network, which four years later, a federal court decided in their favor

1939 – Mary-Dell Chilton born, American chemist, inventor and one of the founders of modern plant biotechnology; with collaborators, produced the first genetically modified plants; member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

1942 – Norwegian sabotage organization the Osvald Group stages the first major anti-Nazi resistance in Norway, to protest the installation of Vidkun Quisling as Minister-President of the puppet government under the supervision of Nazi Reichskommissar Terboven, hated not only by Norwegians, but by many in the German occupying force

1942 – Graham Nash born, English-American singer-songwriter; The Hollies, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

1946 – Alpha Oumar Konaré born, Mali statesman; President of Mali (1992-2002); the first Chair of the Commission of the African Union (2003-2008)

1948 – Ina Garten born, American cookbook author and host of the Food Network  program, Barefoot Contessa which debuted in 2002; she worked as an aide in the White House, beginning in 1972, and worker her way up to a budget analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget until 1978, when she began Barefoot Contessa as a gourmet store

1949 – Yasuko Namba born, Japanese mountain climber; oldest woman, at 47, to complete the Seven Summits, and to climb Mount Everest; she and seven others were caught in a blizzard on Everest during their descent in 1996, and all of them died

1950 – Libby Purves born, British radio presenter, journalist and author; Adventures Under Sail, Holy Smoke, Mother Country

1959 – The Coasters song “Charlie Brown” is released

1963 – Eva Cassidy born, American vocalist-guitarist, almost unknown until her recordings were played on BBC Radio 2, after her death at age 33 from melanoma

1971 – Idi Amin overthrows President Milton Obote to take control of Uganda

1971 – The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is signed in Ramsar, Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea (see 1997 entry)

1980 – The first reports appear that the FBI’s Abscam operation targets allegedly corrupt Congressmen

1982 – Syrian President Hafex al-Assad orders troops to quell an anti-government Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama, a stronghold of the brotherhood, which wants Syria to be a fundamentalist Muslim state; the fighting turns into a 27-day siege in which at least 2,000 Syrian citizens, mostly civilians,  are killed while large sections of the old city are destroyed, and the Syrian Arab Army suffers about a 1,000 casualties

1989 – The last Soviet armored column leaves Kabul, Afghanistan

1989 – South African Apartheid leader P. W. Botha suffers a mild stroke, and announces he will resign from the National Party presidency while remaining State President, setting off an internal struggle within the National Party which results in the appointment of House leader F.W. de Klerk as the party’s new leader

1990 – South African State President F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress and promises to release Nelson Mandela

1994 – Hedgehog Day, * started as an ancient Roman ceremony using a hedgehog to forecast the weather (no wonder Groundhog Day predictions are iffy – they’ve been using the wrong animal!)

1994 – South African State President F W de Klerk announces that South Africa’s first non-racial democratic elections will be held in April 1994

1995 – Arfa Karim Randhawa born, Pakistani computer prodigy who became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in 2004 at the age of 9. At age 10, she earned a pilot’s license. She represented Pakistan on various international forums including the TechEd Developers Conference, and received the President’s Award for Pride of Performance in 2005. In 2012, she died at age 16 following cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure

1997 – The first World Wetlands Day * celebrating the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971

2005 – The Canadian government introduces the Civil Marriage Act; which becomes law on July 20, 2005, legalizing same-sex marriage

2007 – World’s leading climate scientists warn about global warming

2009 – Hillary Rodham Clinton sworn in as U.S Secretary of State

2012 – Change Windshield Wipers Day *  The National Highway Transportation Board recommends changing your windshield wipers at least once a year, but every six months if you use them a lot

2014 – In Kiev’s Independent Square, thousands of Ukrainian protesters hold another rally against President Viktor Yanukovych, who had bowed to Russian pressure and refused a partnership with the European Union. The protesters feared military intervention by Russia in the Ukraine’s worst crisis since the country declared its independence from the USSR in 1991

2016 – The top officers in the Marine Corps and Army said it was time for women to start registering for future military drafts. The Pentagon recently decided to open all combat jobs to women. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that including women in the draft would help integrate them into the military. “Every American who’s physically qualified should register,” Neller said 

2018 – The Department of Defense revealed a new strategy for American nuclear policy focused on building up smaller nuclear weapons, like some in Russia’s arsenal, that are easier to use. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is an effort to “look reality in the eye,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis, and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.” The announcement included swipes at former President Obama’s policy of nuclear stockpile reduction, which Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said has happened while “every one of our potential nuclear adversaries has been pursuing the exact opposite strategy”


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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