It is therefore a good time to do things you wouldn't want the sun to hear about. The Pagans, for example, wisely celebrate their Yule holiday on the Winter Solstice.
Ancient peoples believed that because daylight was waning, it might go away forever, so they lit huge bonfires to tempt the sun to come back. The tradition of decorating our houses and our trees with lights at this time of year is passed down from those ancient bonfires.
In Ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated with the festival of Saturnalia,
during which all business transactions and even war were suspended, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.
It's only two days away - please begin writing
December 21, 1914 -
The first feature-length silent film comedy, Tillie's Punctured Romance, starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, was released on this date.
This film marked the last time that Charles Chaplin would be directed by someone other than himself.
December 21, 1932 -
The movie musical Flying Down to Rio premiered on this date.
Originally conceived by RKO as a vehicle for Dolores del Rio, this film is most notable for its star-making pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The two relative unknowns smoked up the screen in a dance number called The Carioca that generated such a positive response form critics and fans that they were eventually reunited in nine subsequent films.
December 21, 1937 -
The first feature-length color and sound cartoon, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered on this date.
The animation took over two years and a then astronomical $1.5 million to create. Disney had to mortgage his house to pay for the film's production.
December 21, 1940 -
Hot?! Who's afraid of hot?
Another classic Porky Pig cartoon, The Timid Toreador, premiered on this date.
December 21, 1959 -
The Orpheus legend set in Rio de Janeiro (with the fabulous music by Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim,) Black Orpheus, premiered in the US on this date.
Although the film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, ironically it is not terribly well regarded in its native Brazil where some object to the depiction of their country as being a non-stop party.
December 21, 1963 -
The Doctor Who story arc The Daleks, the second story of Season One, first aired on the BBC on this date.
The episodes mark the first appearance of the Doctor’s mortal enemies, the Daleks, a race of genetically engineered mutants who abhor all other races.
December 21, 1969 -
Diana Ross and the Supremes make their final television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, on this date.
The song they sang, Someday We'll Be Together, would become the last of their 12 number one singles.
The Wall of Sound meets Christmas
Today in History -
The pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620 or some other day, the pilgrims were too busy depriving themselves of luxuries like accurate calendars (Their stepping ashore onto a large rock that later became known as the Plymouth Rock probably is a myth.) Their boat was the Mayflower.
The crew of the ship did not have enough beer to get to Virginia and back to England so they dropped the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock to preserve their beer stock.
December 21, 1879 -
Josif Djugashvili was born in the Gori District of Tiflis Province in Georgia, Imperial Russia, on this date.
(or December 18th or the 22nd. When you're an evil bastard dictator, you get to choose your own birthday).
December 21, 1898 -
Radium, which existed since the world was young, was minding it own business when French local busybodies and known chemists Pierre and Marie Curie isolated radium; one of the first radioactive elements to be discovered. They won a joint Nobel prize for their work, and Marie Curie went on to win another for her contributions to chemistry.
Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia as a result of overexposure to radium, which probably showed her not to play with radioactive elements.
December 21, 1940 -
F. Scott Fitzgerald, died of a heart attack at Sheilah Graham's apartment on this date. He was 44 and believed he had died a failure.
And yet, into the 21st century, millions of copies of his works have continued to be sold.
December 21, 1945 -
World War II General George Patton died in a car accident in Heidelberg, Germany on this date.
Patton was investigating the theft of Nazi gold by US Army men at the time. My grandfather was convinced that it was a conspiracy and he was killed by the men he was investigating.
My grandfather was a small time numbers runner but that's another story ...
December 21, 1968 -
Apollo 8 was the second manned mission of the Apollo space program, in which Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to leave Earth orbit and to orbit around the Moon.
The spacecraft entered into orbit around the moon on December 24th. They were the first men to ever view the Earth in its entirety, with them taking photos of our planet whilst on board the spacecraft and sending them back to television stations back home. They landed back on Earth on December 27th.
A year later Apollo 11 would be the first manned spacecraft to land on the Moon.
December 21, 1970 -
Paranoid, alcoholic President Richard Nixon met with prescription drug addict Elvis Presley at the White House to discuss The King's becoming a special drug enforcement agent.
He presented Nixon with a pistol, and received a special DEA badge in return.
December 21, 2012 -
We're still here!
The Mayan "long count" calendar is based on great cycles of 5125 years; apparently, the world has not ended.
Before you go - The folks at Anomaly London have a new Christmas classic (although it may have something to do with the fact that Sir Patrick Stewart narrated their video.)
So kids, two typos and literally Bob's yer uncle.
And so it goes