Dr. Hurlbutt's Highly Peculiar Online Calendar
(International Calendar Awareness Month)
December 1: The Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sundown. The eight-day "festival of lights" commemorates the victory of the Jews over the forces of Antiochus IV of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
December 2: Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor of France in 1804. He would be forced to abdicate in April 1814.
December 4: William Marcy Tweed, New York City's outrageously corrupt Democratic party boss, escaped from prison in 1875. Subsequently apprehended in Spain, he was returned to prison, where he later died.
December 7: The American pilot Wiley Post (1898-1935) discovered the jet stream in 1934.
December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic Church). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that the Virgin Mary was conceived free of original sin. After centuries of controversy, Pope Pious IX decreed the Immaculate Conception to be an essential dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in 1854.
December 9: Feastday of St. Gorgonia (died A.D. 375). Having been ordained as a deacon, like many other women of the early Church, St. Gorgonia is something of a historical incovenience to those who now oppose admitting women to holy orders.
December 10: The women of Wyoming won the right to vote in 1869, twenty-one years before the territory became a state. Utah followed in 1870, as did Colorado in 1893. Nation-wide women's suffrage had to wait until 1920, with the passage of the 19th Amendment.
December 13: U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents fined a nineteen-year-old California man $350 in 2005 for attempting to smuggle three wild squirrels into the United States from Mexico in his coat pockets. No one was harmed (cf. December 1, above).
December 15: In 1791, the United States adopted the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
December 16: In a short-lived rebellion against the sovereignty of Mexico, Benjamin Edwards declared the "Republic of Fredonia" in Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1826. There are, incidentally, no fewer than eight towns named Fredonia in the United States today. In the zany film comedy Duck Soup (1933), Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) is appointed president of the tiny, bankrupt country of "Freedonia."
December 17: Italian-occupied Albania declared war on the United States in 1941.
December 18: The $100,000 Gold Certificate, the largest banknote ever issued by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, went into production in 1934, in an extremely limited run that lasted only until January 9, 1935. Bearing the image of President Woodrow Wilson, the note did not circulate among the public, being used instead strictly for transactions between the Federal Reserve Banks.
December 19: In 1999, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, self-proclaimed Messiah and owner of the conservative Washington Times, informed his followers in Tarrytown, New York, that:
The white race is descended from polar bears. Animals blend with the environment for camouflage. In the same way, the white race appears as they do because their ancestors lived in the wilderness of snow, and looking for water their eyes became the color of water, blue. Caucasian hair is many colors, because there are many colors in the environment. The coloring is not God's creation but due to the environment. They had to hunt every day, so they became excited about seeing blood. So the white race history has always been stained by blood. Who eliminated the American Indians? White people. How can we understand that? The white race is the polar bear race. They came through the Scandinavian Peninsula and to Great Britain, the island of pirates.
Moving on to another subject, he noted, "Snake meat, lion and tiger meat are good for your health."
December 21: Birthday of Josef Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, 1879-1953). Appropriately enough, in the northern hemisphere it is also the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. In the southern hemisphere, of course, it is the longest day of the year and the first day of summer.
December 23: Radish Night (La Fiesta de los Rabanos). Every year, the population of Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrates the radish. Local radish-carvers compete feverishly to produce miniature sculptures from the humble root vegetable, while visitors gorge themselves on buñuelos, doughnuts in syrup.
December 25: Christmas, that is, the Feast of the Nativity, the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. The early Church celebrated the nativity together with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 (a tradition to which the Armenian Apostolic Church adheres to this day), but the Roman Church moved the observance to December 25 in the fourth century. In 1582, however, the Catholic adoption of the Gregorian calendar resulted in schism. Although the Protestant churches eventually accepted the new calendar, the Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox churches continue to employ the old Julian calendar and thus celebrate Christmas on the Gregorian January 7 (as does the Rastafari movement, following the Coptic tradition of Ethiopia). In many countries, there is a tradition of sending special holiday greeting cards for the occasion, something Archelaus would be loath to discourage.
December 26: The African American observance of Kwanzaa begins, lasting until January 1. The holiday, based upon an African first-fruit harvest celebration, was begun in 1966 by the black activist Maulana Karenga.
December 30: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was founded in 1922, a little more than five years after the October Revolution.
December 31: Festival of Iemanjá, Goddess of the Sea. Since Iemanjá doubles as the goddess of physical pleasure, her rites, celebrated each year on the glistening beaches of Brazil, tend to be rather outré. Uninhibited dancing, smoking, and trances are said to be involved, but we wouldn't know very much about anything like that.
While Archelaus reasonably believes the contents of this calendar to be accurate, it disclaims
all liability for the consequences of any action undertaken in reliance upon said contents.