Today in History with a Twist: October 31, 2013
Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, can be traced back to an ancient Celtic pagan festival called “Samhain,” which was celebrated over 2,000 years ago. The Celtic calendar began on November 1, and the Celts believed that as the old year faded and the new year emerged, the boundaries between the living and the dead became unstable. On the night of October 31, the spirits of the deceased could walk the earth and provoke sickness or damage crops. To combat these evil spirits and ward off wandering ghosts, the Celts built huge bonfires, left bowls of food outside their homes, and wore costumes and masks. Although there are still plenty of ghosts and ghouls, Halloween has evolved into a secular, family-friendly event. One quarter of all the candy sold in the United States is purchased for Halloween, and over 40 million children trick-or-treat in their neighborhood each year. (Punchbowl.com)
1941 - Mount Rushmore was completed after 14 years of work. - Sculpting with Jackhammers! - Now is they can just finish that Crazy Horse thing.
1861 - Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott, arguably the best military mind of the era, resigns as Commander of the United States Army in the early days of the Civil War. In the end it was basically the plan he developed that would win the war for the Union. Lincoln understood it but couldn't find a General to implement it until Grant. Scott was 74, suffering from several illnesses and had reached a weight of over 300 pounds and couldn't mount a horse. - He just let himself go.
1917 - In the World War I at the Battle of Beersheba (in Palestine) was noted for having the "last successful cavalry charge in history". - As the Poles learned in World War II, you can't charge tanks.
1940 - In World War II the Battle of Britain came to an end when the Luftwaffe realized it could not defeat the Royal Air Force (RAF). The victory meant that Germany could not invade the United Kingdom. - Just the first of many times that Goering would over estimate his capabilities.
1941 - In the early days of World War II the destroyer USS Reuben James is torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 United States Navy sailors. It is the first U.S. Navy vessel sunk by enemy action in WWII. - Wait Pearl Harbor is still over a month away?!?
From the world of Religion:
1517 - Martin Luther posts his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. - What? You can't but your way into Heaven?
In Science News:
2000 - Soyuz TM-31 launches, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been continuously crewed since. - What would President Kennedy think of our Space Program today?
2011 - The global population of humans reached seven billion. This day is now recognized by the United Nations as Seven Billion Day. - Thought it felt a little more crowded around here.
Population Year Years elapsed since previous milestone
1 billion 1804
2 billion 1927 123
3 billion 1960 33
4 billion 1974 14
5 billion 1987 13
6 billion 1999 12
7 billion 2011 12
Today we celebrate the birthdays of:
1848 - Boston Custer - American solder (d. 1876) - Just had to tag along with his brothers on that ride into the Little Bighorn Valley.
1895 - B. H. Liddell Hart, English soldier and historian (d. 1970) - One of the noted experts on the future of tank warfare before World War II. - Too bad it was the Germans who paid the most attention to him.
To learn more about the above topics checkout the following books from the Library's collection: