Today is World Hello Day, plus the Anniversary of Many, Many Things...

Continuing our series on historical happenings, let's delve right into the smart, the wacky, and the _flossy events of November 21 in history.

- Judas Maccabaeus restored the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC, an event that is commemorated each year with the festival of Hanukkah.

- In 1620, the Plymouth Colony settlers signed the Mayflower Compact.

- François-Marie Arouet was born in France in 1694; he would later author histories, plays, and books, including Candide, under the pen name Voltaire.

- The first un-tethered hot air balloon flight was made in 1783 in Paris.

- North Carolina, in 1789, was the twelfth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

edison.jpg- The first American woman to make a substantial impact on Wall Street, Henrietta "Hetty" Howland Robinson Green, was born in 1834.

- Thomas Edison announced his invention of a machine that can record and play sound, the phonograph, in 1877.

- In 1905, the journal "Annalen der Physik" published Albert Einstein's paper, "Doest the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?," which led to the mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc2.

- Elizabeth George Speare, an American children's author, was born in 1908. Her books "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "The Bronze Bow" won Newbery Medals.

- Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first female senator in 1922.

- In 1953, 40 years after its discovery, the "Piltdown Man" skull was declared a hoax by the British Natural History Museum.

- The Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Franklin Stroud, died at the Springfield Center in Missouri in 1963.

- The eclectic Icelandic singer-songwriter / actress, Björk, was born in 1965.

mf_logo.jpg- The first ARPANET link was established in 1969, paving the way for the mental_floss blog.

- In 1973, the existence of an 18.5 minute gap on a White House tape recording related to Watergate was revealed by J. Fred Buzhardt, President Nixon's attorney.

- Lake Peigneur, in Louisiana, drained into an underlying salt deposit, changing the lake from a 10-foot-deep freshwater lake to a salt water lake with a deep hole.

- The first feature-length CGI film, "Toy Story," was released in theaters in 1995.

- November 21 is World Hello Day, during which people are supposed to say "hello" to at least 10 other people, as established in 1973 in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel.

-November 21 is also World Television Day. The UN General Assembly established the day in 1996 to encourage nations to exchange cultural programming focusing on peace and development.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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