Category: December 13



    December 13th commemorates the National Guard Birthday. On December 13th, 1636, the Massachusetts General Court established an official militia for the first time in the American Colonies.


    A component of the United States Army, the National Guard is primarily composed of citizen-soldiers who hold down full-time, civilian jobs, attend school, or as is often the case, both. At the same time, they are available to provide support and protection for the states’ civilians or be called for military operations at a national level.

    Each U.S. state, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands maintain both an Army National Guard and an Air National Guard.

    National Guard Mission

    National Guard Soldiers serve both community and country. Our versatility enables us to respond to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counter-drug efforts, reconstruction missions, and more. The Guard always responds with speed, strength, and efficiency, helping to defend American freedom and ideals.

    From before the American Revolution to Hurricane Katrina and beyond, the National Guard has provided support and protection for its citizens.


    While not recognized as a Federal Holiday, National Guard members across the country celebrate the birth of the oldest military organization in the United States with galas, balls, and birthday parties. Since the National Guard is an integral part of each state, commonwealth, and territory, we all have a reason to celebrate this birthday! Take time to recognize a National Guard soldier or airman you know.

    Use #NationalGuardBirthday to post on social media.


    On December 13 of 1636, a direct declaration by the Massachusetts General Court established an official militia for the first time in the American Colonies. The resolution required all able-bodied men from age 16 to 60 to join. While less-organized militia existed, this legal document brought them together under a formal enterprise. We know this organization today as the National Guard.

    The Massachusetts Bay Colony established three regiments designated East, South, and North. Older than the United States itself, the National Guard maintains these roots in Massachusetts. The regiments include the 101st Engineer Battalion (formerly East Regiment), the 101st Field Artillery (South Regiment), and the 181st Infantry, and the 182nd Infantry Regiment (North Regiment).

    After the United States formed and the country grew, each state established a militia. However, Congress did not make the name National Guard official until 1933. When Congress amended the National Defense Act, they made the National Guard a separate component of the United States Army. While some states used the term National Guard before this time, individual state militia had various titles. Two examples include the Mississippi State Guard and the Indiana Legion.

    After World War II, the newly established United States Airforce established the Air National Guard.

    Today, approximately 350,000 men and women serve in the National Guard and the Air National Guard, 39% of the Army’s operational force.

    National Guard FAQ

    Q. Does the National Guard have a full-time component?
    A. Yes. The National Guard includes full-time personnel, though the majority of National Guard members serve part-time unless they are deployed on active duty.

    Q. What kinds of jobs does the National Guard offer?
    A. National Guard offers several military occupational specialties (MOS) that members can train for including infantry, aviation, engineer, military intelligence, transportation, finance, among several others.

    Q. Is there an age limit to join the National Guard?
    A. Yes. To join the National Guard you must be between the ages of 17 and 35.


  • NATIONAL VIOLIN DAY – December 13


    Honoring an instrument also known as the fiddle, National Violin Day on December 13th celebrates the bow stringed instrument loved around the world. 


    By drawing the bow across the strings, the violinist manipulates the sound in several ways. A violinist uses numerous bowing techniques to master the violin. The strokes dictate not only notes, but the quality of the note played. 

    While we associate the violin with classical music, it easily crosses genres. For instance, the violinist demonstrates the versatility of the violin by extensive use in baroque music, jazz, folk music, rock and roll, and soft rock.

    “Violin” comes from the Medieval Latin work “vitula” which means stringed instrument.

    Although having ancient origins, violin-makers developed most of the violin’s modern characteristics in Italy during the 16th century. Further modifications formed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    When is National Saxophone Day?
    Violin History

    It is believed that Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were the world’s earliest fiddlers. They played two-stringed upright fiddles strung with horsehair strings. Likewise, they played using horsehair bows and often featured a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. The violins we play today (as well as the violas and cellos) with bows still strung with horsehair are a legacy of the nomads.

    • 1555 – Andrea Amati receives credit for the oldest documented four-string violin, like the modern violins.
    • The “Lady Blunt” brought a record dollar amount when it was auctioned on June 20, 2011. The Stradivari violin sold for $15.9 million.  
    • Musicians and collectors alike seek instruments made by Stradivari almost more than any other maker. 
    • A luthier makes or repairs violins.


    The holiday season offers an excellent time to listen to the violin in concert. Whether you attend a holiday presentation or give tickets to the local chamber orchestra, the violin will certainly be a part of the performance. Other ways to enjoy this holiday include:

    • Listen to concerts online.
    • Attend a school performance.
    • Re-discover your violin skills and take a lesson or two.
    • Offer a violin concert to a classroom.
    • Add violin music to your playlist.
    • Give the gift of music for the holidays. Buy season tickets or lessons for someone longing to learn to play.
    • Learn about the histories of musical histories by reading 5 Tuneful Origins of Celebrated Musical Instruments.

    While celebrating the day, be sure to invite someone to enjoy it with you, too! Share your experience and use #NationalViolinDay to post on social media.


    Undeterred by our research, National Day Calendar® continues seeking the origins of this musical holiday.

    Violin FAQ

    Q. How many strings does a violin have?
    A. Depending on the size of the violin, it can have between four to eight strings.

    Q. What are the sizes of violins?
    A. The standard-sized violin is the adult 4/4 violin and is determined by the length of the instrument’s body. From there the sizes reduce by fractions:


    The smallest sizes are typically played by young children.


  • NATIONAL COCOA DAY – December 13


    December 13th ushers in a celebration worthy of the winter holidays with National Cocoa Day. What better way to warm up after a cold day outside?


    We make hot cocoa with cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar. However, Americans often use hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably, sometimes causing a bit of confusion. There is a difference between the two beverages. We make hot chocolate by using ground chocolate containing cocoa butter. We mix it with hot milk, and it is drinking chocolate.  

    Hot chocolate is also known as drinking chocolate.

    We make hot cocoa from cocoa powder. We produce a paste called chocolate liquor through the fermentation, drying, roasting, and grinding process of cocoa beans. Through another method, they separate cocoa butter, leaving cocoa powder. We use this cocoa powder to make hot cocoa. The result has very little fat and calories.

    Cocoa History

    The Mayans are credited with creating the first chocolate beverage around 2000 years ago. Culturally, cocoa became an essential part of the Aztec civilization by 1400 AD.  After the drink found its way from Mexico through the New World, Europeans popularized the chocolate drink. However, it has undergone multiple changes since then.  Until the 19th century, drinkers used hot chocolate medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases. 

    When is National Hot Chocolate Day?

    In the United States, an instant form of the drink is popular. Mixed with hot water or milk, the packet contains mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. We also like to add marshmallows or whipped cream. It makes the chocolatey drink creamier and sweeter. What better way to celebrate National Cocoa Day?

    Health Benefits

    The health benefits of drinking hot cocoa abound. Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. They have also shown that the cocoa bean helps with digestion. The flavonoids found in cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health.

    Chocolate lovers enjoy both drinking cocoa and hot cocoa in a variety of combinations. Some top the hot drink with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or peppermint to make the chocolate extra special. For an added caffeinated boost, some hot cocoa drinkers add a little bit of instant coffee. The coffee and chocolate flavors combine for a delicious mocha marriage. 


    Host a cocoa bar after a day outdoors in the snow. A cup of hot cocoa after sledding or building a snowman warms us right up. When we gather around the table and sip our steaming cup, let the conversation begin. 

    Try some of these delicious toppings:

    • Whipped cream
    • Cinnamon and sugar
    • Marshmallow
    • candy canes
    • caramel
    • toffee bits
    • coconut
    • Peppermint Patties
    • butterscotch candies, crushed
    • candy sprinkles
    • cinnamon cereal
    • mini chocolate chips
    • chopped nuts

    Ambitious hot cocoa fans are making hot cocoa bombs to give to friends and family. They fill these chocolate spheres with cocoa, marshmallows, and many of the ingredients listed above for a delightful hot cocoa treat. What’s your favorite way to enjoy hot cocoa? Share your celebration using #NationalCocoaDay to post on social media.


    Undeterred by our research, National Day Calendar® continues seeking the origins of this toasty holiday.

    Hot Cocoa FAQ

    Q. Can I use hot cocoa mix to make a dessert?
    A. Yes. While we first think of hot cocoa when we open that container, there are other ways to use it. Use cocoa mix in baking to add a chocolatey flavor to cookies, breads, and cakes. Another way to enjoy that cocoa flavor is by mixing it into your ice cream and topping it with marshmallows.

    Q. What other beverages can I use cocoa mix in?
    A. Do you like chocolate flavor in your coffee? Add a teaspoon or two of the cocoa mix to your morning coffee.


    December 13th Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) History


    The Associated Automobile Clubs of New Jersey and the Newark Motor Clubs renamed the first section of Lincoln Highway between Jersey City and Newark, NJ. The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway for automobiles in the United States, and it was promoted and supported by automobile clubs across the United States. This first section was named Essex-Hudson Lincoln Highway.


    Thanks to an invitation by a friend, James Dean appeared in his first acting gig in a Pepsi commercial.


    The Warner Bros. film Driving Miss Daisy is given a limited theatrical release following its December 11th premiere. Starring Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, and Dan Aykroyd, the film was directed by Bruce Beresford. It won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress.


    A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, and Jennifer Connelly premieres in Beverly Hills, CA. Directed by Ron Howard, the film follows the life of mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Director.

    December 13th Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) Birthdays

    Mary Todd Lincoln – 1818

    The 17th First Lady was a force to be reckoned with. Often in the public eye, Mrs. Lincoln was known for her quick wit, interest in politics, and frequent presence at the military hospitals. While sometimes a controversial figure, she is one of the White House’s most recognizable First Ladies.

    Jane Edna Hunter – 1882

    In 1911, the pioneering social worker founded the Working Girls Home Association in Cleveland, OH. The organization provided shelter, assistance, and vocational education to women and was an alternative for Black women in the area. It was later renamed the Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland.

    Alvin C York – 1887

    The one-time conscientious objector was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I. As part of the 82nd Infantry Division, Corporal York took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. His actions helped to eliminate German machine guns and capture more than 130 prisoners. Following the war, he was awarded several medals including the Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor.

    Ella Baker – 1903

    The civil rights activist helped establish several organizations that supported the advancement of equal rights including the right to vote, peaceful assembly, the elimination of segregation. Some of those organizations include In Friendship, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

    Jamie Foxx – 1967

    Born Eric Marlon Bishop, the multi-talented actor, singer, and comedian has earned both popular and critical acclaim across the industry. For his role as Ray Charles in the film Ray, he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. He also earned a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo.



    National Day of the Horse on December 13th encourages people of the United States to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States.


    The domesticated horse we know today, also known as Equus caballus, was introduced into North America by Spanish explorers. Escaped horses eventually spread across the American Great Plains.

    Interestingly, there is a debate about the origin of E. caballus. Recent mitochondrial studies of an ancient horse called Equus lamei suggest that it is equivalent to the modern, domesticated horse. E. lamei once populated North America and died out more than 11,000 years ago. This could mean that E. caballus is technically a native species, and its evolutionary origin is North America.

    The North American Horse

    Aside from the anthropological debate, the horse has contributed significantly to the advancement of civilization in North America. Not only did the horse serve as vital transportation, but they cleared forests for farmland. They led the way westward and into battle, too. Horses diversified Native American hunting habits and defined the western cowboy.

    When is National Horse Protection Day?

    In North America, the legendary horse is embedded in our culture and runs deep into the roots of our history. As the country grew, our indebtedness to the horse grew, too. While few people see the horse as much more than a recreational animal today, they still serve on working ranches. As a therapy animal, horses relieve the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and other disorders. Long past their age as a plow horse or part of the cavalry, they continue connecting to humans, and we continue to rely on them. 


    Celebrate the horse and its contributions to North America. Explore their history and learn more about how the horse continues to play a vital role in North America today.

    • Read your favorite books about horses. Some of those might include National Velvet by Enid Bagnold or The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.
    • For a more historical perspective, pick up The Horse: A Natural History by Catrin Rutland and Debbie Busby or The Horse in Human History by Pita Kelekna.
    • You can also explore the horse in documentaries. I directed by Phillip Baribeau follows four friends as they make an epic trip with 16 mustangs from Mexico to Canada.
    • The two-part documentary Equus: Story of the Horse directed by Gabit Baimbetov, Pavel Tarasov, and Niobe Thompson follows the origins of horses around the world.

    Use #NationalDayoftheHorse to post on social media.


    On November 18, 2004, United States Senate Resolution 452 recognized December 13th as the National Day of the Horse.

    Horse FAQ

    Q. How many bones does a horse have?
    A. Most horses have 205 bones in their body including 54 bones in their spinal column. Compare that to the 206 bones in the human body and the 33 bones we are born within the spinal column.

    Q. What was the first horse?
    A. The earliest recorded member of the horse family is named Eohippus. The small ungulate lived 55 million years ago and stood only 10-17 inches tall.

    Q. Is the horse related to the hippopotamus?
    A. No. Despite the name Eohippus, the horse is not related to the hippopotamus. It is, however, related to zebras, donkeys, and onagers, among others.


  • PICK A PATHOLOGIST DAY – December 13


    Pick a Pathologist Pal Day on December 13th encourages us to make friends with a pathologist or coroner because we never know what tomorrow holds.  


    While life is short, making friends with a pathologist or coroner may improve our outlook on life. Despite life’s challenges, most of us overcome them. A pathologist and coroner see some of the worst of the ills that can befall us. If they can be jovial, then rest assured, living life to our fullest while we can may be the key.

    Sometimes, being positive is all in our attitude. However, a positive attitude may take more practice for some than for others. While we can’t control external forces, we can control how we respond to them. Sometimes our response makes the difference – or no difference at all.

    Another key to being positive is looking for positive things around you. Sometimes we take for granted the positive influences in our lives. Bring those closer to you. While you’re at it, eliminate or lessen the negative influences in your life to bring more balance.

    Keep practicing the positive vibe while checking in with that pathologist pal or coroner, too. Their humor keeps things interesting, and we wouldn’t want to eliminate anything funny from our lives.

    When you find the perfect pathologist or coroner who brings joy to your life, share them. Others need all the positive influences in their lives they can possibly get.


    Make friends with a pathologist or a coroner. Then tell us more about how you keep life interesting, fun, and delightfully humorous. Use #PickAPathologistPalDay to post on social media.


    Thomas and Ruth Roy at created Pick A Pathologist Pal Day.