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Jan 1 2009

Day 1 – 364 remaining

by Lesley B

Happy New Year! It’s the first day of the first month of the Gregorian calendar year, Anno Domini 2009. It’s also Haitian Independence Day, it’s J.D. Salinger’s birthday, it’s the Rose Bowl and it’s the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

Oh, and January 1 is the start of National Hot Tea Month.


I’ve been looking through Chase’s Calendar of Events, a standard library reference book that celebrates its 51st anniversary this year. William D. Chase, a newspaper librarian, started keeping a file of calendar events, holidays and anniversaries, using it to help writers and editors make their deadlines and fill some columns. With the help of his brother, wife and children, the file became a book and a self-publishing success story that’s in just about every library. Google is fantastic, but Chase’s was designed by a librarian to perfectly answer the question — what’s important about today?

Over the years, Mr. and Mrs. Chase selected historical events they thought worthy of notice and wrote little entries for them. They accepted submissions for special days from groups looking to promote an idea or product. Mr. Chase has said they deliberately added a “whimsical” quality to a book that would otherwise be a dry compilation of dates and events. The end result mixes the profound and the picayune for a surprisingly enjoyable browse.

Discovering someone declared January to be California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month makes me laugh. But reading that January 1 has only been observed as New Year’s Day since “the British Calendar Act of 1751, prior to which the New year began March 25th” makes me curious. What? You mean January 1 hasn’t always been New Year’s Day? Hmm, I need to look this up.

Chase’s Calendar of Events comes with a searchable CD-ROM but no online version; so if you want to know what else happened on your birthday, you’ll have to come to the library OR you can post your birthdate (year optional) in the comments area . When the library reopens on Friday, January 2,  I’ll check Chase’s to see who or what shares your special day.

Like this:

June 20 – “LIZZIE BORDEN VERDICT: ANNIVERSARY Spectators at her trial cheered when the “not guilty” verdict was read by the jury foreman in the murder trial of Lizzie Borden on this date.”

Wait — they cheered? Didn’t she give her mother 40 whacks? Excuse me, I need to go look this up.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nolan January 2, 2009 at 10:20 AM

Hey, my birthday is today! Although I’m actually in the library today anyway… 🙂

Lesley B January 2, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Happy Birthday Nolan! You share your day with Isaac Asimov, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Herron Taft, wife of William Howard Taft, 27th president of the US. Also, on this date in 1788, Georgia became the 4th state to ratify the Constitution.

Claudia January 5, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Very fun article. My b’day is July 13 (though I’m taking you up on your offer to *not* discuss the birth-year….)

Lesley B January 5, 2009 at 1:29 PM

July 13 – On this day in 1930, the first World Cup soccer event was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. And you share your birthday with Harrison Ford, Jane Hamilton, Cheech Marin, Wole Soyinka, Erno Rubik, Michael Spinks and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a collection of names that seriously dents any belief I might have had in astrology.

Drew h February 19, 2013 at 11:54 AM

my birthday is august 24, 19xx [note: we took out the birth year to protect your privacy]

Lesley B February 19, 2013 at 8:24 PM

August 24 – You share your birthday with Yasser Arafat, Jorge Luis Borges, and former Georgia Senator Max Cleland. On this day in 2006, Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status.

Lesley B February 19, 2013 at 9:01 PM

Wait, there’s more! The NBC sitcom, The Facts of Life, premiered on August 24, 1979. It’s Independence Day in the Ukraine, and Flag Day in Liberia. August 24 is the anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which destroyed Pompeii in AD 79. Here are a few more people who also share your natal day: Stephen Fry, Rafael Furcal, Rupert Grint, Mike Huckabee, and Oscar Hijuelos.

Shantrice W. February 21, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Hey. My day is February 2. The day of the groundhog but what else, please?

Lesley B. February 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM

February 2 – This is the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so there are a lot of traditions like Groundhog Day on this date. The Wiccan or pagan holiday of Imbolc is celebrated on February 2. One of the “Greater Sabbats”, Imbolc marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the Sun, or the God, at Yule. In the Roman Catholic Church, it’s Candlemas Day, which commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the purification of Mary 40 days after his birth. Candles have been blessed since the 11th century. In Mexico, it’s called Dia de la Candelaria. All of Mexico celebrates with dances, processions and bullfights. The ancient Romans celebrated Hedgehog Day, which was the inspiration for Groundhog Day.

New Amsterdam was incorporated as a city on this day in 1653. This was the official birth of New York City, which was renamed in 1664 when the English took over the colony.

You share your birthday with Farrah Fawcett, Ayn Rand, James Joyce, Stan Getz, George Halas and Ina Garten (now there’s a tv reality show I would watch . . .).

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