On This Day In History December 23

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 23 is the 357th day of the year (358th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are eight days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1893, The opera Hansel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is first performed.

The libretto was written by Adelheid Wette (Humperdinck’s sister), based on the Grimm brothers’ Hansel and Gretel. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the Abendsegen (“Evening Benediction”) from Act 2.

The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hänsel und Gretel.” After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.

Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt am Main in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss. It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.

962 – Byzantine-Arab Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops stormed the city of Aleppo

1493 – Georg Alt’s German translation of Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle is published.

1783 – George Washington resigns as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland.

1793 – The Battle of Savenay, decisive defeat of the royalist counter-revolutionaries in Revolt in the Vendee during the French Revolution.

1823 – A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, is published anonymously.

1893 – The opera Hansel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck is first performed.

1913 – The Federal Reserve Act is signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, creating the Federal Reserve.

1914 – World War I: Australian and New Zealand troops arrive in Cairo, Egypt.

1916 – World War I: Battle of Magdhaba – Allied forces defeat Turkish forces in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

1936 – Colombia becomes a signatory to the Buenos Aires copyright treaty.

1937 – First flight of the Vickers Wellington bomber.

1938 – Discovery of the first modern coelacanth in South Africa.

1941 – World War II: The Japanese Imperial Army occupies Wake Island.

1947 – The transistor is first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories.

1948 – Seven Japanese convicted of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East are executed at Sugamo Prison in Tokyo.

1957 – Ian Craig of Australia becomes the youngest Test cricket captain in history.

1958 – Dedication of Tokyo Tower, the world’s highest self-supporting iron tower.

1968 – The 82 sailors from the USS Pueblo are released after eleven months of internment in North Korea.

1970 – The North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City is topped out at 1,368 feet (417 m), making it the tallest building in the world.

1972 – A 6.5 magnitude earthquake strikes the Nicaraguan capital of Managua killing more than 10,000.

1972 – The 16 survivors of the Andes flight disaster are rescued after 73 days, having survived by cannibalism.

1979 – Soviet war in Afghanistan: Soviet forces occupy Kabul, the Afghan capital.

1982 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency announces it has identified dangerous levels of dioxin in the soil of Times Beach, Missouri.

1986 – Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California becoming the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without aerial or ground refueling.

1990 – History of Slovenia: In a referendum, 88% of Slovenia’s population vote for independence from Yugoslavia.

2002 – A MQ-1 Predator is shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25, making it the first time in history that an aircraft and an unmanned drone had engaged in combat.

2003 – PetroChina Chuandongbei natural gas field explosion, Guoqiao, Kai County, Chongqing, China, killing at least 234.

2004 – An 8.1 magnitude earthquake hits Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean.

2005 – Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adre, which left about 100 people dead.

2008 – The Guinean military engineers a coup d’etat, and announces that it planned to rule the country for two years prior to a new presidential election.

Holidays and observances

   * Birthday of the Queen Silvia, an official flag day (Sweden)

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Abassad (Coptic Church)

         o John Cantius

         o O Emmanuel

         o Psote (Coptic Church)

         o Thorlac Thorhallsson, patron saint of Iceland; The last day of preparations before Christmas.

   * Festivus, a holiday made popular by the sitcom Seinfeld

   * HumanLight (Secular humanism in United States)

   * Larentalia, in honor of Larenta. (Roman empire)

   * Night of the Radishes (Oaxaca, Mexico)

   * The Emperor’s Birthday, birthday of Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan. (Japan)