December 31 – New Years Eve

December 31, 2017 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Author’s Preface:

Over the past few months, I have thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue these posts. After much contemplation and a fair amount of “navel-gazing,” I have decided that this post will be the last of these “Today is” (or “Reasons to Celebrate”) posts. This decision was not made lightly. 
I am devoting too much of my time each day to writing these posts…between the research and composing the narrative. I spend between 2 and 5 hours daily writing these Blog posts.
If you look at them individually, each post is an essay in and of itself and each of these posts is the equivalent of writing, on average, a 1500 to 1800 word essay every day. (The longest post was over 3500 words, and the shortest was in the neighborhood of 800 words). Hearken back to your days in English Composition class for comparison…when you thought writing a 500-word composition was torture. No matter how much one likes to write, that is a monumental task to undertake on a daily basis.
Discontinuing these posts will give me more free time for things that I want to do. Who knows, I might even start hitting the gym a few days a week. Rest assured that I will still be posting almost every day, and, don’t worry, my daily “Useless Facts” posts will continue for the foreseeable future. 

Now, I [officially] begin the last “Today is” post.

Good morning year-end revelers. Today is Saturday, December 31st. Today’s reasons to celebrate are:

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is celebrated across the globe. The type of celebration varies from culture to culture. The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year; while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last places to welcome the New Year. Many cultures have fireworks displays and other festivities to celebrate the start of the New Year. In Mexico, they celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating a grape with each of the twelve chimes of a clock’s bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. In Brazil, they typically dress in white to bring good luck and peace for the year to come. In the United States, New Year’s Eve is a major social holiday. Huge crowds gather in New York City to watch the ball drop in Times Square, a tradition that began in 1907 after firecrackers were outlawed. Millions more watch this, or another, event on television. At midnight, it is customary to kiss a loved one, toast with champagne, and sing “Auld Lang Syne. To find out more about various New Year’s Eve celebrations, use this link.
Many people celebrate conservatively with a party in their home among friends and family. Others celebrate this holiday with a more festive gathering at a favorite restaurant or bar, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, much to their regret the next day. No matter how you choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I hope you do so safely and sanely. Don’t become a statistic!

Make Up Your Mind Day

To use a phrase from my military days, it’s time to ”s**t or get off the pot.” You have been procrastinating all year, putting off those hard decisions, and now it’s time to “pay the piper”.Clean up those loose ends and begin next year anew with a clean slate. No matter what you’ve been avoiding, it’s time take action to resolve the issues. This is your last chance for this year. Don’t carry any loose baggage into next year. “Git ‘er Done.”

World Peace Meditation Day

Since December 31, 1986, spiritual communities around the world have come together in hope for world peace through the calmness and serenity of meditation. This holiday was created in order to unite people under the common bond of love and peace. World Peace Meditation Day is a time in which many come together and however briefly, live harmoniously as one.

Universal Hour of Peace Day

In the same vane as the holiday above, Universal Hour of Peace Day started in 1995 as an hour of peace. It soon grew into a yearly event now held as we transition into each New Year. The idea of large groups of people engaging in an activity at the same time is powerful. The vision is for everyone to spend this one hour—the same hour— in a state of peace. Universal Hour of Peace is held each year from 11:30 pm on December 31st to 12:30 am on January 1st – in case you don’t have anything better to do.

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day

We had another Leap Second Time Adjustment Day on June 30th this year. Leap Second Time Adjustment Day is more of an observance in title only. Some years scientists do not make any adjustments to the Atomic clock. But, if they do, then it’s done on either June 30 or December 31. This year, no adjustment will be made. This website explains leap seconds in a more knowledgeable manner than can I.

National Champagne Day

Because Champagne has long since been associated with celebrations, it’s no surprise it was, and still is, the drink of choice for New Year’s Eve festivities. The tradition of toasting the New Year with Champagne can be found worldwide. But, not all countries can rightfully claim to be serving or producing Champagne.
By law, to accurately be called Champagne, the grapes used in the production of the wine must come from the Champagne region of France. Anything else simply isn’t Champagne. Italians call their bubbly wine Prosecco and Spain calls their bubbly wine Cava, while in America we just use the term “sparkling wine”. Another stipulation of calling Champagne by that name is that a second fermentation must happen inside the bottle. Méthode Champenois is a complicated process. Champagne is typically made from Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay grapes. The second fermentation creates the bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the finer the Champagne. Some wine makers have tried adding carbon dioxide to wine, but the result isn’t authentic. The second fermentation takes place with the addition of sugar and yeast to the wine. When the Champagne is ready, some producers add a sugar syrup to sweeten the wine.
Outside of New Year’s, sparkling wine is perhaps most popularly consumed at Sunday Brunch in the form of a Mimosa. However, don’t overlook the “bubbles” portion of the wine list the next time you’re out to dinner. Champagne pairs very well with rich or oily foods.

Historical Events

Below is a list of significant historical events that occurred on this date: 

  • In 1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.
  • In 1695 – The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.
  • In 1775 – The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.
  • In 1841 – The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.
  • In 1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada. 1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
  • In 1862 – President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
  • In 1877 – President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.
  • In 1879 – Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.
  • In 1891 – New York’s new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
  • In 1897 – Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.
  • In 1907 – The first annual ball drop occurred in Times Square. The annual tradition of dropping a ball at 11:59 pm to mark the start of the New Year was organized for the first time by Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times.
  • In 1909 – The Manhattan Bridge opened to traffic. The bridge, one of the first suspension bridges ever constructed, was designed by Leon Moisseiff and crosses the East River in New York City.
  • In 1923 – In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.
  • In 1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played “Auld Lang Syne” as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time.
  • In 1946 – President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
  • In 1947 – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.
  • In 1953 – Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.
  • In 1955 – General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.
  • In 1960 – The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.
  • In 1961 – In the United States, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid to war-torn Europe.
  • In 1967 – The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game became known as the Ice Bowl because it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.
  • In 1972 – Baseball outfielder Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash. Clemente was accompanying a relief flight loaded with supplies to Managua, Nicaragua for earthquake victims.
  • In 1974 – Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
  • In 1978 – Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.
  • In 1979 – At year’s end, oil prices were 88% higher than at the start of 1979.
  • In 1983 – A military coup in Nigeria overthrew the civilian government of Shehu Shagari and installed Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari.
  • In 1985 – Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash near Dallas, TX. The plane crashed in a field just 2-miles away from the runway. The cause of the crash is thought to be that a heater caught fire and filled the cabin with smoke. Nelson was only 45-years-old.
  • In 1986 – A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.
  • In 1990 – Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.
  • In 1997 – Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
  • In 1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.
  • In 1999 – Five hijackers left the airport where they had held 150 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane. They left with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded to be freed from an Indian prison. The plane had been hijacked during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to New Delhi on December 24.
  • In 1999 – Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world’s oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.
  • In 2009 – Both a Blue Moon and lunar eclipse occurred on the same day. The next such event to happen on New Year’s Eve will be in 2028.
  • In 2015 – Natalie Cole died from congestive heart failure at the age of 65.

Noteworthy Birthdays

If you were born on this date, Happy Birthday. You share your birthday with the following list of illustrious individuals – and about 20-million other people.

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