(I intended to post this yesterday, so the events all happened on April 5, not April 6. Feel free to hold onto it until next year if you think it would be more relevant.)
As you may have guessed, I love trivia. It’s probably related to my mind’s ability to hold onto almost any useless piece of information while forgetting that if I don’t call the school, my kids probably won’t have yearbooks for their senior year. For example, I needed a code to punch into the cash register at my second job (after my senior year in high school). I chose 1063. Why? Because it was three years before the Battle of Hastings. And I still remember it. Scary, huh?
Needless to say, the Internet is full of odd facts and ideas. Too bad I don’t know which ones to believe.
There used to be something in the local paper called “Today in History” and it would show which famous people were born on that day and major events. I really liked looking at it, although the same historical events kept popping up year after year. Oddly enough, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was there every December 7.
So what could be better than the web version of “Today in History”? I found several sites (of course). There was one that was mainly music-oriented. It was really interesting, but not really what I was looking for. Finally I settled on scopesys.com. It has births, deaths, events, holidays, and religious commemorations. And it seems to be pretty exhaustive. It was actually kind of boring, even to me.
For example, the birthdays included 1588 Thomas Hobbes, 1649 Elihu Yale, 1725 Giacomo Casanova, 1827 Joseph Lister, 1856 Booker Taliaferro Washington, 1923 Nguyen Van Thieu, 1937 Colin Powell. If you don’t know who these people are, you should :).
The list actually had 183 names on it. Included were such luminaries as 1818 Lewis Baldwin Parsons Brevet Major General (Union volunteers), 19– Chao Li Chi actor (Falcon Crest), 1946 Jane Asher Paul McCartney’s former girlfriend/actress (Deep End), and seven cricket players born between 1868 and 1953. While I have no problem with cricket, I can’t believe there has ever been a player who belongs on a list with Joseph Lister and Booker T. Washington. And it’s the only sport shown. Seems a little biased, no?
There were 82 deaths worthy of note. Among those cited were 1794 Georges-Jacques Danton, 1964 Douglas MacArthur, 1975 Chiang Kai-shek, 1992 Sam Walton, and 1997 Allen Ginsberg. I am going forward with the blissfully ignorant assumption that everyone knows who these people are too. Don’t burst my bubble.
Some of the others you should keep in mind are 1531 Richard Roose who was boiled to death for trying to poison an archbishop and five cricket players. I am guessing that Mr. Roose was included due to his cause of death rather than trying to poison an archbishop. Lots of people were going around poisoning church leaders at that time. There’s the cricket bias again.
I found it interesting that there were 183 people of note on this date, but only 162 events. Some of the highlights: 1614 Indian princess Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe (#1 item on every site I visited – probably thought everyone would know who she is), 1722 Jacob Roggeveen discovers Easter Island, 1896 1st modern Olympic Games officially open in Athens, and 1951 Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, atomic spies, sentenced to death.
I had not known the name of the person who “discovered” Easter Island (although from all appearances someone had found it before he did). Unfortunately, I will probably not remember the name because I don’t know how to pronounce it. (My idiosyncrasies have idiosyncrasies.) Odd that I successfully finished a Masters’ degree in Russian Studies.
The next few things here are what I consider to be real trivia. They are more interesting than useful: 1792 George Washington casts 1st presidential veto, 1806 Isaac Quintard patents apple cider, 1973 NFL adopts jersey numbering system (ie quarterbacks, 1-19), 1986 Record for a throw-and-return boomerang toss is set (121 meters). I am wondering how a man can patent a drink that occurs naturally.
Of course, I took issue with some of the inclusions. Making the cut were 1585 Clemens Crabbeels becomes bishop of Hertogenbosch, 1961 Barbra Streisand appears on “The Jack Paar Show”, and 1992 Comedian Sam Kinison marries live-in girlfriend Malika Souiri. There were five sports references to four sports (maybe only cricket players were born and died on April 5). The most suspicious of these was 1953 Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA Babe Didrikson-Zaharias Golf Open. I’d like to know who kept score.
In 1965 Lava Lamp Day was celebrated. Those have made a comeback. My daughter has one. Maybe we could make it a national holiday. At least in Colorado where smoking pot is legal.
I think that we should add some international holidays to our calendar. And maybe spread some of the local ones. April 5th is the first day of summer in Iceland. I really hope that has something to do with the length of the day as opposed to the temperature. It’s not halfway between the equinox and the solstice either. Perfect excuse for another day off.
It’s Arbor Day in South Korea. That one would work here in Michigan. We were given the official word that it is now safe to plant new trees. Of course, we’ve also been told that it’s better to plant trees at the end of the year. And the ground is still frozen in some spots. Another day off and nothing to do. Excellent!
In Taiwan, they are celebrating Death of Chiang Kai-shek/Tomb Sweeping Day. I’m not exactly sure how to spin this one for the U.S. Obviously we don’t want to support a dictator (particularly a dead one). Maybe we can make it into some sort of civilian memorial day. Then we can plan major sales, get a day off, and forget the people it is supposed to honor (just like the real Memorial Day).
I’d love to celebrate Switzerland’s Glarius Festival. If I knew what it was celebrating. Or could find any reference to it anywhere. It started in 1388. If anyone knows enough Swiss history to help, please chime in. I guess we could just pretend we know what it is and ask for the day off.
Last, but not least, it is Student Government Day in Massachusetts. It was celebrated on Friday since no one wanted to go to school on the weekend to study the government. I think this would be an excellent opportunity to send our paid politicians back to school to learn what government is actually supposed to do. That would probably take more than a day though…..
You can drive your HR department crazy suggesting new holidays. It won’t be long before they are encouraging you to shop and look at cat videos on company time.