When we think about December, we inevitably think about the traditional holidays celebrated during the month, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa – even Festivus. But there is so much more to know about the last month of the year! Take a break from the expected December lists to consider these 10 lesser-known facts about December.
- Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back section of a municipal bus. Her arrest led to legal actions ending racial segregation on municipal buses throughout the South, signaling an important shift in human rights in America.
- The saying that “Everything is bigger in Texas” apparently applies to tasty treats, too. On Dec. 5, 2013, the Texas A&M Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas completed building the largest gingerbread house in the world, according Guinness World Records. How big, you ask? It measured 60 feet long by 42 feet wide by 10.1 feet high. And the most important measurement, the combination of baking ingredients and sweets, totaled 35,823,400 calories! While gingerbread houses aren’t our specialty, if a larger home is on your wish list for the coming year, a PrimeLending loan officer can help make the process simple (and low-calorie).
- The world became a little more magical on Dec. 5, 1901, when Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was born in Hermosa, Illinois. He went on to found Walt Disney Productions with his brother and perhaps most notably, created the cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Among his many accomplishments, Disney won 22 Academy Awards and founded the theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- What would you be willing to give up for love? On Dec. 11, 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England to marry a twice-divorced American named Wallis Warfield Simpson. They were married in France on June 3, 1937, and then lived in Paris.
- Bon voyage! When Sir Francis Drake set sail from England on Dec. 13, 1577 leading a voyage around-the-world, perhaps it’s a good thing most of his crew thought they were only going as far as Egypt. Of the five vessels on the journey, only Drake’s flagship Golden Hind would complete the voyage, eventually sailing 36,000 miles before returning to England in Sept. 1780.
- Setting their sights high helped propel two men to success and forever changed the way that we travel. On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, ushered in the era of flight and soared into history. Despite having no formal engineering training, the brothers defied gravity by making the first manned airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
- If you’re someone who values common sense, I bet you are familiar with Poor Richard’s Almanack. First published on Dec. 19, 1732, the book published annually thereafter contained weather predictions, humor, proverbs and epigrams, and sold nearly 10,000 copies per year. Who was Poor Richard? He was a persona created by Benjamin Franklin.
- Ouch! Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear during a fit of depression. Van Gogh was a prolific artist responsible for creating about 2100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings in just over a decade, including many self-portraits… some featuring his bandaged ear.
- Oh say can you see… that on Dec. 30, 1803 the Stars and Stripes flag was raised over New Orleans as the United States took formal possession of the Louisiana territory. Long considered one of the best bargain purchases in history, the U.S. bought an area of 885,000 square miles from France for approximately $15 million, nearly doubling the size of the country.
- Times Square became the go-to place for New Year’s Eve revelers as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year’s Eve Ball made its first appearance. Since that time, seven different versions of the ball have been lowered. In 2007, for the 100th anniversary of the Times Square Ball Drop tradition, Waterford Crystal crafted a spectacular new crystal Ball with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles.
This month, as you take time to enjoy the great traditions of December, we hope you will spend a few minutes remembering some of the other notable facts about the last month of the year.