December 31 in Pop Culture History

December 31st History, Trivia, and Fun Facts

December 31st History Highlights

  • The first word most people say every year is “happy.”
  • 1600 – The British East India Company was chartered. At one point it had a hand in 50% of the whole world’s trade and business.
  • 1907 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.
  • December 31, 1926 Birthday (fictional) Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldemort, Harry Potter
  • 1983 – the United States Government broke up AT&T ‘Ma Bell’ telephone system monopoly.
  • On December 31, 1999, Albert Einstein was chosen as person of the century by Time.
  • If you were born on December 31st,
    You were likely conceived the week of… April 8th (same year)

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
And here’s a hand, my trusty friend
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
We’ll tak’a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

FYI – An old Scotch tune, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ literally means ‘old long ago’ or ‘the good old days.’

December 31st is…

Make Up Your Mind Day
National Champagne Day
New Year’s Eve

Universal Hour of Peace

Watching the news these days, it seems like everyone is fighting with everyone. Nations against nations and groups against groups… it’s challenging to get away from it. Post a recipe on social media, and someone, somewhere, will quickly inform you of everything you’ve done wrong and that your life has spun out of control.

Now, take a deep breath… not all is lost.

Every year, from 11:30 pm, December 31st to 12:30 am, January 1st, groups of people worldwide come together for a Universal Hour of Peace. 


The first annual Hour of Peace was celebrated on October 24th, 1995, and was conceived by Dr. Barbara Condron at the School of Metaphysics. The following year it was moved to December 31st to January 1st where it is still celebrated today. This, for adherents, is the time of year when you do something that brings peace to you or, even better, to those who surround you. Take this time to acknowledge and celebrate the peace you find in the world. 

How To Celebrate

There is no “right” way to celebrate. You can meditate, hold a prayer vigil, share an experience, write a poem, compose a song, or whatever you find brings you a moment of peace. Others may want to actively spread peace by brainstorming ideas on how a peaceful message can spread worldwide or even in your community. You can vow to join or start an organization dedicated to spreading peace. It will help settle your spirit and calm your mind to take Dr. Condron’s philosophy to heart, at least for one hour, and ring in the New Year with a celebration of peace that can spread worldwide.

December 31st Birthday Quotes

“For my part, I have never avoided the influence of others. I would have considered it cowardice and a lack of sincerity toward myself.”
– Henri Matisse

“The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
– George Marshall

“My message is to never quit, never give up. When you have a little trouble here and there, just keep fighting. In the end, it will pay off.”
– Gabby Douglas

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!”
– Calvin, via Bill Watterson, in the final comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes

“When a thing is done, it’s done. Don’t look back. Look forward to your next objective.”
– General George Marshall

“Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood, and tears.”
– Gabby Douglas

“At each stage, I reach a balance, a conclusion. At the next sitting, if I find that there is a weakness in the whole, I make my way back into the picture by means of the weakness; I re-enter through the breach, and I reconceive the whole. Thus everything becomes fluid again.”
– Henri Matisse

December 31st Birthdays

1869 – Henri Matisse, French artist (died in 1954)
1880 – George Catlett Marshall, American General (died in 1959)
1930 – Odetta (Holmes), American singer-songwriter and actress (died in 2008)
1942 – Andy Summers, English guitarist, and songwriter
1943 – John Denver, American singer-songwriter
1943 – Ben Kingsley, English actor
1947 – Burton Cummings, Canadian singer-songwriter
1947 – Tim Matheson, American actor
1948 – Donna Summer, American singer (died in 2012)
1956 – Steve Rude, American comic book author, and illustrator
1958 – Bebe Neuwirth, American actress, and dancer
1959 – Val Kilmer, American actor
1977 – Donald Trump, Jr., American businessman
1995 – Gabby Douglas, American gymnast

SS Warrimoo

The Warrimoo was a passenger steamer that had just finished the voyage from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought Captain John DS Phillips, the result: “Know what this means?” he asked with calm confidence-at midnight the ship lay directly over from the Equator at Latitude 0 degrees 31 minutes North Long 17930W -exactly where it crossed international date line!

At midnight the SS Warrimoo say on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line.
The results of this unique position included:
  • The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & in the middle of summer.
  • The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.
  • The date in the aft part of the ship was on December 31, 1899.
  • The bow (forward) was on January 1, 1900.

The Ship was in…

  • Two different days,
  • Two different months,
  • Two different years,
  • Two different seasons
  • And in two different centuries, all at the same time!

This was an incredible accomplishment and a momentous occasion for the Warrimoo and its passengers. Thanks to the skillful navigation of the Warrimoo’s crew, everyone on board got to experience this unique moment and share in its glory! Crossing the equator is a milestone that many people only dream of achieving, so to have done it in such style was really something special.

December 31st History

1600 – The British East India Company was chartered. It was the first global mega-corporation.

1759 – Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease at £45 per year and began brewing Guinness Beer.

1796 – Baltimore, Maryland incorporated as a city.

1805 – The ‘Calendar of Reason’ had been introduced in France on November 24, 1793. It was abandoned, and the Gregorian calendar, which we still use today, replaced it.

1831 – Gramercy Park was presented to New York, New York.

1865 – “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” were some of the phrasings in the 13th Amendment, eliminating Slavery in the US.

1870 – The ‘Goodrich, Tew & Co’ was formed as a partnership by B.F. Goodrich and his brother-in-law, Harvey W. Tew, and others in Akron, Ohio.

1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrated the incandescent light to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1923 – The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.

December 31, 1926 Birthday (fictional) Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldemort, Harry Potter

1935 – The patent (# 2,026,082) was issued for the game of Monopoly, assigned to Parker Brothers, by Charles Darrow of Pennsylvania.

1938 – The “drunkometer” – the first breath test for car drivers, was invented by Dr. Rolla N. Harger of Indiana University School of Medicine.

1955 – General Motors became the first US corporation to make over $1 billion in a single year.

1956 – Bob Barker made his national debut on Truth or Consequences.

1966 – #1 Hit December 31, 1966 – February 17, 1967: The Monkees – I’m a Believer

1972 – Roberto Clemente was killed, along with four others when the cargo plane in which he is traveling crashes off the coast of Puerto Rico.

1985 – Singer Rick Nelson was killed in a plane crash in De Kalb, Texas.

December 31, 1989, (fiction) Thousands of ghosts and spirits terrorized New York, Ghostbusters II, Film

1999 – The United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially handed over control of the Panama Canal to Panama.

1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigned from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and eventual successor.

2005 – #1 Hit December 31, 2005 – January 13, 2006: Mariah Carey – Don’t Forget About Us

Today’s Random Trivia and Shower Thoughts

WC Fields – Real Name: William Claude Duckenfield

In 2010, a woman named Lori Ruff committed suicide. Her husband’s family found a box among her possessions that contained name change documents and the birth certificate of a long-dead two-year-old girl, named Lori Ruff. The true identity of Lori Ruff was a woman named Kimberly McLean.

“You play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile.” – Christopher Reeve

“Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.” – Shakespeare’s Tombstone

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Starbucks should have a line for everybody who wants their venti triple half-caf soy mochas with no whip, and a separate line for people who want a cup of coffee.

The “-wright” in “playwright” is from the Old English “wryhta” meaning “worker,” not “writer”.

In the scene in Alien when the alien pops out of John Hurt’s stomach, the actors were not told it was going to happen.

When ants signal to other ants about food somewhere, but the food is gone by the time the ant army gets there, does the signaling ant get a bad reputation?

A group of Teddy Bears is a Hug.

The Beatles song, Something, and the Derek and the Dominos song, Layla, were both created for the same person, Pattie Boyd.

The original drawings of Snoopy were based on Charles Schulz’s childhood dogs, Snooky and Spike.

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