Life Day 24268: It’s Going To Be A Short Day

December 21, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Today is Saturday, December 21, 2013. Good morning everyone. The holidays today are:

Winter Solstice:

It’s that time of year again. The solstice marks the official start of winter. The winter solstice occurs when the sun’s position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance from the hemisphere, resulting in the shortest day and longest night of the year. This year, the exact time it occurs is 9:11 pm Pacific Standard Time (12:11 pm Eastern, and 17:11 Zulu or Greenwich Mean Time). Official sunrise today: 7:19 am. Official sunset: 4:54 pm. There will be 9 hours 34 minutes and 53 seconds of daylight. The sun is 91.445 million miles from Earth.

The word “solstice”, roughly translated, means “sun stands still”? This seasonal milestone has been celebrated since ancient times. The Romans, for example, honored Saturn, the god of time and harvest, with a week long feast called Saturnalia. While the traditions surrounding the winter solstice differ from culture to culture, most recognize it as a symbol of rebirth. Various festivals, gatherings, and rituals take place today worldwide. To celebrate the winter solstice, attend a local festival or spend time with your friends and family around a cozy fire.

Crossword Puzzle Day:

Crossword Puzzle Day commemorates the date of the first publishing of a crossword puzzle, in the “New York World” Sunday edition, on December 21, 1913. It was included as an added feature of the “Fun” supplement. This began the [now century old] tradition of publishing crossword puzzles in newspapers and periodicals.

Tasked by his editor to create a new word game for the newspaper, English born journalist Arthur Wynne got the idea for crossword puzzles from the game of Magic Squares that he played as a child. Magic Squares is the arrangement of group of letters to form words which read the same both down and across. Mr. Wynne took it one step further to create a large and more complex replica of that game but with a twist – a clue was provided for each given word.

Today, crossword puzzles are enjoyed by people of all ages and socioeconomic groups. Do you enjoy crossword puzzles? I certainly do.

 Humbug Day:

In the frenzy of activity surrounding the holidays, it is not uncommon for people to become frustrated and even annoyed at times. The people at Wellcat.com come to the rescue once again with Humbug Day. This holiday allows everyone to utter no more than twelve “Bah Humbugs” today to vent their frustrations about their holiday preparations.

Look on the Bright Side Day:

In contrast to Humbug Day is Look on the Bright Side Day. Look on the Bright Side Day is a day to be optimistic;  to look for something positive, out of an otherwise bad situation. Often, a bad experience has positive lessons to be learned. See the “light at the end of the tunnel” and realize that it is probably not a train coming at you but rather a sign that things will be better soon.

National Flashlight Day:

You never know when you will need a flashlight. National Flashlight Day is a good day to make sure you and your family know where the flashlights are. Test each flashlight, to be sure the batteries are good. When in doubt, replace the batteries with new ones. It is also a good idea to put a flashlight in your car.

The flashlight was invented in 1898 by Joshua Lionel Cowen. However, this wasn’t his greatest invention. He also invented the Lionel train.

Forefather’s Day:

Forefather’s Day commemorates the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The pilgrims left for the New World to escape religious persecution. After a late fall start, the Mayflower set sail from England and landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts just before Christmas. They originally set sail from England in two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell leaked so badly, that they were forced to return to England, Ultimately, they all crammed into the Mayflower, and set sail from Plymouth, England. It was much later than they had planned. Strong fall west winds also delayed their arrival in the New World. Finally, on December 21, 1620 they landed.

This holiday is celebrated mainly in New England. Forefather’s Day was first celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1769. A group of descendants  gathered to have a feast in honor of the pilgrims. This group shared a meal together, which included many native American delicacies.

Phileas Fogg Wins a Wager Day:

Derived from Jules Verne’s classic novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”, Phileas Fogg Wins a Wager Day commemorates the anniversary of the date that Fogg walked into the saloon of the Reform Club at London, announcing, “Here I am, gentlemen!” exactly 79 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds after starting his trip to win his £20,000 wager.

National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day:

Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council have sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day to bring attention to the plight of the nation’s homeless population and to encourage the public to act on their behalf.

Local groups across the country are encouraged first to determine the number of homeless persons in their community who died in the previous year and then arrange a ceremony to remember them. Candlelight marches, vigils, graveside services, plays and performances, religious services, and public policy advocacy are the suggested ways of remembering. Some groups have read publicly a list of names of the deceased. Because media attention to such issues increases during the holiday season in December, National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day was in part created to garner a public forum for this issue.

National Hamburger Day:

This seems like an odd time of year to be celebrating National Hamburger Day, but it is listed in a number of my sources. Little information is available regarding this holiday, and I can ascertain no reason why it is celebrated in late December rather than in one of the summer months.

Actually, hamburgers are good any time of year. So take a break from your holiday shopping and enjoy a hamburger for lunch today. Don’t cheat and put cheese on it!

Kiwi Fruit Day:

Kiwi Fruit Day is a holiday unique to California, although I assume that if you are an expatriated Californian, you can celebrate it as well. The origins of this holiday are a mystery. Other than being a California holiday, I could find no definitive information regarding the creation of, or reason for, this holiday.

Kiwi Fruit didn’t always have their ‘cutesy’ name. New Zealand farmers actually changed the fruit’s name from “Chinese gooseberries” to Kiwi Fruit when they first began exporting them to the United States.

Kiwi Fruit are the “nutritional powerhouse” of fruit. They contain twice the vitamin C of an orange. They are rich in folate, which assists in brain and cognitive development in children and combats cardiovascular disease. A kiwi fruit has about the same level of potassium as a banana – but only half the calories. They are naturally high in antioxidants, and can help improve the function of your immune system.

So, even if you aren’t from California, it sounds like you should celebrate this holiday by including kiwi fruit in your menu today, and the rest of the year too.

On this date in:

1849 – The first ice-skating club in America was formed in Philadelphia, PA.

1898 – Scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discovered the radioactive element radium.

1909 – McKinley and Washington schools of Berkeley, CA, became the first authorized, junior-high schools in the U.S.

1937 – Walt Disney debuted the first, full-length, animated feature in Hollywood, CA. The movie was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

1944 – Horse racing was banned in the United States until after the end of World War II.

1945 – U.S. Gen. George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.

1948 – The state of Eire (formerly the Irish Free State) declared its independence.

1951 – Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement from major league baseball.

1958 – Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.

1968 – Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon. The craft landed safely in the Pacific Ocean on December 27.

1971 – The U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as secretary-general.

1978 – Police in Des Plaines, IL, arrested John W. Gacy Jr. and began unearthing the remains of 33 men and boys that Gacy was later convicted of killing.

1981 – Cincinnati defeated Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. The game was the longest collegiate basketball game in the history of NCAA Division I competition.

1988 – 270 people were killed when Pan Am Boeing 747 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, due to a terrorist attack.

1991 – Eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

1995 – The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.

1996 – After two years of denials, U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.

1998 – Israel’s parliament voted overwhelmingly for early elections. It was the signal to the demise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government.

1998 – The first vaccine for Lyme disease was approved.

2001 – The Islamic militant group Hamas released a statement that said it was suspending suicide bombings and mortar attacks in Israel.

2002 – Larry Mayes was released after spending 21 years in prison for a rape that maintained that he never committed. He was the 100th person in the United States to be released after DNA tests were performed.

Noteworthy Birthdays:

Jean Baptiste Racine 1639 – Playwright.

Benjamin Disraeli 1804 – British politician.

Joseph Stalin 1879 – Russian dictator.

Walter Hagen 1892 – Pro golfer.

Kurt Waldheim 1918 – German politician.

Alicia Alonso 1921 – Ballet Dancer, choreographer.

Paul Winchell 1922 – Ventriloquist, comedian.

Phyliss Love 1925 – Actress.

Ed Nelson 1928 – Actor.

Freddie Hart 1933 – Country singer.

Phil Donahue 1935 – TV personality.

Jane Fonda 1937  – Actress.

Frank Zappa 1940 – Singer, songwriter.

Carla Thomas 1942 – Singer.

Gwen McCrae 1943 – Singer.

Jared Martin 1943 – Actor.

Michael Tilson Thomas 1944 – Conductor, composer.

Josh Mostel 1946 – Actor.

Carl Wilson 1946 – Musician. (The Beach Boys)

Nate Wright 1947 – Football defensive back.

Elliott Maddox 1947 – Baseball player.

Samuel L. Jackson 1948 – Actor.

Betty Wright 1953 – Singer.

Chris Evert 1954 – Tennis player.

Jane Kaczmarek 1955 – Actress.

Ray Romano 1957 – Comedian, actor.

Florence Griffith Joyner 1959 – Olympic Track & Field medalist.

Christy Forester 1962 – Singer.  (The Forester Sisters)

Andy Dick 1965 – Comedian.

Kiefer Sutherland 1966 – Actor.

Khrystyne Haje 1968 – Actress.

Julie Delpy 1969 – Actress.

 

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