Saturnalia is an Ancient Roman festival that was held in honor of the god Saturn.
It was an occasion for celebration, visits to friends, and the presentation of gifts, particularly wax candles. The Saturnalia was originally celebrated in Ancient Rome for only a day, but it was so popular it soon it lasted a week, despite Augustus' efforts to reduce it to three days and Caligula's, to five.
Imagine, there's a holiday that the rulers of the known world couldn't control. More about Saturnalia later (it figures in our Christmas story.)
December 17, 1989 -
Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, also known as The Simpsons Christmas Special, the first full-length episode of The Simpsons, premiered on this date.
There is no Blackboard or Couch gag in this episode's opening titles, owing to the holiday theme of the episode making the title sequence different.
December 17, 1959 -
Stanley Kramer film-version of Nevil Shute's drama, On The Beach, premiered worldwide on this date.
It is rumored that guards at each end of the Golden Gate Bridge were paid $500 each to stop cars for a minute to get footage of an empty bridge.
December 17, 1969 -
Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on the Tonight Show on this date.
The event attracted between 40 and 50 million viewers.
Today in History:
December 17, 1903 -
Orville Wright made the first recorded flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in a plane he built with his brother, Wilber. The flight lasted a mere twelve seconds and covered only 120 feet, but a short flight had been expected: after all, two Wrights don't make it long.
The TSA was waiting to go through their luggage.
December 17, 1927 -
U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg suggested a worldwide pact renouncing war as an instrument of national policy on this date. Virtually all of the major powers of the world signed the Kellogg-Briand pact in Paris on August 27, 1928.
The pact went into force on July 24, 1929. War was finally outlawed and the people of the earth were filled with joy.
The peace achieved by the Kellogg-Briand Pact was an idyll like none other. It is still referred to as the happiest seven minutes in human history.
Ah, 1929, that sweet summer of human happiness!
But perhaps we do not give sufficient credit to the authors and signers of that ill-fated pact for their ironic sense.
It was thought up on the 231th birthday of Humphrey Davy, the inventor of laughing gas.
December 17, 1969 -
The United States Air Force closed its Project 'Blue Book' by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.
Our Alien Overlords were briefly satified and decide not to detroy the Earth - for now.
December 17, 1977 -
Elvis Costello and The Attractions made a rare United States television debut on Saturday Night Live when Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols failed to show up for the gig.
Producer Lorne Michaels refused to allow Costello to perform Radio, Radio because of the song's criticism of the broadcasting industry, but a few measures into Less than Zero, Costello halted his group and played the forbidden song .
Naughty, naughty Elvis
If your tuckered out from all of that Saturnalia partying today, make yourself comfortable and watch another holiday treat - The Man Who Came to Dinner
Bette Davis saw The Man Who Came to Dinner on Broadway and immediately wanted to play the role of Maggie, the antithesis of her usual roles. She wanted the role desperately because she wanted to act opposite John Barrymore who was to play Sheridan Whiteside. At her insistence, Warner Bros. tested Barrymore for the role but his failing health and inability to remember his lines cost him the job.
3 more shopping days until Hanukkah, 8 more shopping days until Christmas.
And so it goes.