Other things to occupy your mind with other than COVID-19 - Christmas trees are known to have been popular in Germany as far back as the sixteenth century. In England, they became popular after Queen Victoria's husband Albert, who came from Germany, made a tree part of the celebrations at Windsor Castle.
In the United States, the earliest known mention of a Christmas tree is in the diary of a German who settled in Pennsylvania.
(Unless you are tight with the Thursday afternoon, rosary praying old ladies - you may not know this;) today is the third Sunday of Advent. It is known as Gaudete Sunday.
It's early and I'll stop hurting your brain with too much info but go impress those old ladies with your new found knowledge later.
December 13, 303 -
It the feast of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia) today. (Early depictions show Lucy offering her eyes on a platter; she is now the patron saint of Sicily and of Opticians.)
Because her extreme beauty attracted too many admirers, Lucy gouged her own eyes out (she had body issues). Miraculously they grew back. After refusing to marry, the Romans forced her to become a whore. She wasn't particularly thrilled with that choice, so she went for door number two and her Roman guards stabbed her to death but not before gouging out her eyes, again.
Oh those wacky early Christians.
December 13, 1950 -
James Dean begins his career with an appearance in a Pepsi commercial on this date.
From the amount of energy all the performers have, it appears they were drinking the original Coke formula.
December 13, 1956 -
The comeback film for Ingrid Bergman, Anastasia, co-starring Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes, and Akim Tamiroff premiered in the US, on this date.
This movie was based on the story of Anna Anderson, a woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. It was later discovered that, in fact, she was not who she claimed to be; the mystery was solved through DNA examination of a small piece of tissue cut from Anna in an operation years before.
December 13, 1975 -
Patti Smith released her debut studio album Horses on this date.
Produced by John Cale, Horses has since been viewed by critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of the American punk rock movement, as well as one of the greatest albums of all time.
December 13, 1975 -
Richard Pryor hosted NBC-TV's Saturday Night Live on this date. Fearing Pryor would say things that were too offensive for television at the time, the show was placed on seven-second delay for the very first time
As mentioned in the opening sketch, Pryor requested that Garrett Morris say "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" instead of Chevy Chase. Morris' was the only cast member besides Chase to say it during the entire first season.
December 13, 1985 -
The very silly comedy, base on the board game of the same name, Clue, starring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren premiered on this date.
Three endings were shot, and a different one shown at each theater. All three are included on video. The DVD, however, aside from all three endings, also offers the option to play the movie with one randomly selected ending. In some cities, the newspaper print ads indicated which version ("Ending A", "Ending B", or "Ending C") was being shown at each theater.
December 13, 1995 -
Ang Lee's superb adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay,) Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, opened in Canada on this date.
While working on the script, Emma Thompson's computer developed a problem and she was unable to locate the file. She took the computer to Stephen Fry, a good friend of Thompson's, who, after seven hours, finally managed to retrieve the script. This is why Stephen is thanked in the credits by the producers.
December 13, 1996 -
Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy, Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bonnie Hunt, and Renée Zellweger premiered on this date.
Jonathan Lipnicki showed up on the set one day telling everyone that "the human head weighs eight pounds". Writer, producer, and director Cameron Crowe liked it so much he wrote it into the script.
December 13, 2013 -
David O. Russell's comic take on the ABSCAM sting of the late 70's, American Hustle, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence opened in limited release in the US on this date.
According to Christian Bale, much of the movie was improvised. So during the shooting of the film, he noted to writer and director David O. Russell, "You realize that this is going to change the plot greatly down track." To which Russell replied, "Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that's it."
There were other people in the Rat Pack you know
Today in History:
December 13, 1577 -
Sir Francis Drake set out on a three year (and not three hour) long journey around the world, on this date. He had started his career as a sailor in the slave trading business, but after some run-ins with the Spanish, he decided to devote his life to taking vengeance on the Spanish by disrupting their trade routes.
He became a semi-official pirate for Queen Elizabeth I, plundering Spanish ships, gathering intelligence about their naval activities and creating delicious little dessert cakes.
December 13, 1809 -
The first successful abdominal surgery procedure was performed in the US on this date. Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22 pound (about 10 kg) tumor from the ovary of Jane Todd Crawford. Crawford had previously been misdiagnosed as being pregnant with twins. The surgery was performed without anesthetic or antiseptics, but Crawford made a complete and quick recovery.
December 13, 1928 -
The Clip-on tie was invented on this date. Productivity soars as time lost in tying knots is made up and accidental strangulation rates drop as fewer workers ties are caught in the gears.
Legend has it that it was a mortician who had too hard of a time tying ties onto his corpses.
Little know fact - the term, Dork, was also coined on this date.
December 13, 1962 -
NASA launches Relay I, the first active repeater communications satellite, aboard a Thor-Delta rocket from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral.
It would transmit its first test patterns on January 3, 1963, once its solar cells are fully charged. Once in service, it would transmit facsimile, telephone, television, and teleprinter signals.
December 13, 1972 -
Astronaut Gene Cernan climbed into his Lunar Module Challenger on the Moon and prepared to lift off on this date. He currently is the last man to set foot on the moon. Besides his footprints, the astronaut left his daughter's initials scrawled in the lunar dust.
The last official words on the moon, as Cernan climbed the ladder, were "God willing, we shall return," he said. What Cernan to his crew, as they prepared to launch from the lunar surface: "All right, let's get this mother out of here and go home."
December 13, 1973 -
Claude Vorilhon, former French race car driver, began the Rael movement in France on this date.
Vorilhon said that he was instructed to take the name Rael and spread the news that humans were placed on Earth by extraterrestrials who had engineered our DNA. In 1997 Rael founded Clonaid, a company dedicated to cloning people. In 2013 the Raelian movement numbered about 90,000 members world-wide.
The French, they are a funny race.
December 13, 2003 -
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s nine-month long run from the US military finally came to an end when he was discovered hiding in a hole just nine miles away from his hometown of Tikri, five months after his sons Uday and Kusay were killed in a raid in Mosul.
Following his capture, Saddam was put in Iraqi custody and charged with the deaths of nine villagers, the razing of farmlands, the wrongful arrest of almost 400 Dujail residents and the torture of women and children. He was sentenced to death.
And so it goes