December 17 in History

December 17 in Pop Culture History

December 17th is…
National Maple Syrup Day
Wright Brothers Day
Saturnalia Begins

Saturnalia: December 17th – December 23rd
In ancient Rome, the period between December 17th and December 23rd was known as the Saturnalia, a festival to honor the god Saturn.

Saturn ruled over such things as abundance, destruction, and time. He gave his name to our largest planet and everyone’s favorite day of the week (Saturday). His celebration began with a ritual sacrifice in his Temple at the Roman Forum, followed by a week of banquets, gift-giving, candles and lights, and general revelry. Elements of Saturnalia, including its timing (around the Winter Solstice), are said to have influenced many modern holidays, including Christmas.

According to Roman custom, schools were closed, wars were suspended, and no business could be conducted during Saturnalia. If you need some time off this week (or just want a head start on your holidays), why not spread the Saturn love now? Grab a toga and a cup of wine, and call your boss to tell him you’re doing as the Romans do!

497 BC – The first Saturnalia festival was celebrated in ancient Rome.

1538 – Pope Paul III excommunicated England’s Henry VIII.

1790 – The Aztec Stone (‘Sun Stone’) was excavated in the Zócalo, the main square of Mexico City. It is about 12 feet across and weighs about 24 tons.1835 – The Great Fire of New York took place in New York City in 1835, destroying hundreds of buildings and killing two people.

1843 – Chapman and Hall published Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol novella. It is one of the most well-known books and stories of all time.

1880 -The Edison Electric Illuminating Company was incorporated to provide electric light to New York City.

1892 – First issue of Vogue magazine was published.

1903 – Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane he made with his brother Wilbur, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

1933 – The Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 23-21 in the second NFL Championship game.

1957 – The United States successfully launched the first (Atlas) Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1969 – Tiny Tim married Miss Vicky (Victoria May Budinger) on The Tonight Show.

1969 – The United States Air Force closed its study of UFOs, Project Blue Book.

1979 – The first rocket automobile vehicle to break the sound barrier on land was driven by Stan Barrett who reached 739.7 mph (speed of sound: 761.2) on a 3-mile test-strip at Rogers Lake, Edwards Air Force Base, CA.

1980 – Amadeus (Broadway Play) Opened on December 17, 1980 and closed on October 16, 1983

1982 – Tootsie and The Dark Crystal debuted in theaters.

1987 – Final Fantasy (I) was released in Japan.

1991 – Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally) was ‘sampled’ in Biz Markie’s “Alone Again,” and the United States Federal Court for the Southern District of New York agreed with the 70’s artist that Biz needed to get permission to use his music in a very landmark case. That permission typically involves direct payment or a portion of the net profits today.

1993 – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Pelican Brief and Beethoven’s 2nd were released in theaters.

1994 – #1 Hit December 17, 1994 – January 27, 1995: Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper

1999 – Stuart Little was released in theaters.

2000 – In addition to a 17-0 victory by the San Francisco 49ers over the Chicago Bears, San Francisco’s wide receiver Terrell Owens set a new NFL record of 20 catches in a single game.

2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was released and won 11 Oscars. Score eleven for the nerds! The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was first published in 1954/1955.

2004 – Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Aviator debuted in theaters.

2008 – The Wrestler debuted in theaters.

2011 – Yogi Bear was released in theaters.

2011 – Kim Jong Il, ‘Beloved, Brilliant, Perfect, Wise, Unique and Dear’ Leader and Father of the People of North Korea, Died. He was also referred to as the Superior Person, Sun of the Communist Future, and The Shining Star of Paektu Mountain. #RIP

2011 – The Adventures of Tintin was released in theaters.

2014 – The United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations.

2014 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released in US theaters


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