The day after Epiphany (January 6) was traditionally the one on which women went back to work after the 12-day Christmas celebration. A distaff is the wooden rod (staff) that holds the flax or wool on a spinning wheel. The term distaff came to refer to both women’s work and the female branch (distaff side) of the family. As is often the case, it’s hard to go back to work after the holidays and not much got done! The women’s husbands would mischievously try to set fire to the flax on their wives’ distaffs, while the women, lying in wait, would retaliate with humor by dousing them with buckets of water. The English poet Robert Herrick wrote: If the maids a-spinning goe Burn their flax and fire their tow. Bring the pails of water then Let the maids bewash the men.
- 1610: MAJOR SATELLITES OF JUPITER FIRST SEEN BY GALILEO
- 1610: ASTRONOMER GALILEO GALILEI, ARMED WITH A PRIMITIVE TELESCOPE, SAW THREE “STARS” NEAR JUPITER. ABOUT A WEEK LATER A FOURTH ONE APPEARED. GALILEO HAD DISCOVERED THE FOUR LARGEST MOONS OF JUPITER. TODAY THE MOONS ARE CALLED IO, EUROPA, GANYMEDE, AND CALLISTO; THEY ARE KNOWN AS THE GALILEAN SATELLITES.
- 1714: FIRST TYPEWRITER PATENT ISSUED IN ENGLAND
- BORN 1718: ISRAEL PUTNAM (AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR GENERAL)
- 1782: BANK OF NORTH AMERICA, FIRST COMMERCIAL BANK CHARTERED BY CONGRESS, OPENED, PHILADELPHIA.
- 1784: D. LANDRETH SEED CO. IN PHILADELPHIA ESTABLISHED
- 1785: FRANCOIS BLANCHARD AND JOHN JEFFERIES CROSSED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL FROM DOVER TO CALAIS BY HOT-AIR BALLON; THE FIRST CROSSING OF THE CHANNEL BY AIR
- 1789: THE ELECTORS WERE CHOSEN FOR THE FIRST U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. (GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT ON FEBRUARY 4.)
- 1894: IN 1892, WITH $638, THOMAS A. EDISON CONSTRUCTED THE FIRST MOVIE STUDIO. HIS FIRST FILM WAS MADE ON THIS DAY IN 1894. ENTITLED “EDISON KINETOSCOPIC RECORD OF A SNEEZE,” IT DOCUMENTS EDISON EMPLOYEE FRED OTT WHILE HE IS SNEEZING. THIS REMAINS THE EARLIEST COPYRIGHTED FILM STILL IN EXISTENCE.
- 1896: FANNIE FARMER PUBLISHED HER FIRST COOKBOOK
- BORN 1922: VINCENT GARDENIA (ACTOR)
- 1927: TRANSATLANTIC TELEPHONE SERVICE BEGAN BETWEEN NY AND LONDON
- BORN 1928: WILLIAM PETER BLATTY (AUTHOR)
- 1929: U.S. MILITARY PLANT QUESTION MARK COMPLETED A 150-HOUR, 40-MINUTE NONSTOP FLIGHT
- DIED 1944: LOU HENRY HOOVER (U.S. FIRST LADY)
- BORN 1945: TONY CONIGLIARO (BASEBALL PLAYER)
- BORN 1948: KENNY LOGGINS (SINGER)
- 1971: A U.S. COURT OF APPEALS ORDERED A BAN ON THE PESTICIDE DDT UNTIL ITS EFFECTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH WERE STUDIED50 Years Ago
- 1972: LEWIS POWELL, AND WILLIAM REHNQUIST ARE CONFIRMED AS US SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
- 1979: PHNOM PENH, CAPITAL OF CAMBODIA, FELL TO UNITED FRONT INSURGENTS
- BORN 1984: JON LESTER (BASEBALL PLAYER)
- 1986: PRESIDENT REAGAN BANNED TRADE AND TRAVEL TO LIBYA AND CALLED FOR AN INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT BECAUSE OF ITS INVOLVEMENT IN TERRORIST ACTIVITIES
- DIED 1989: EMPEROR HIROHITO OF JAPAN DIED AFTER THE LONGEST REIGN OF ANY JAPANESE MONARCH (62 YEARS), AND WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS SON, AKIHITO
- 1990: THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC BECAUSE OF SAFETY CONCERNS
- DIED 1990: JOE ROBBIE (FOUNDER OF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS)
- DIED 1990: BRONKO NAGURSKI (FOOTBALL PLAYER)
- BORN 1990: LIAM AIKEN (ACTOR)
- 1992: TOM SEAVER WON ELECTION INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
- DIED 2005: ROSEMARY KENNEDY (SISTER OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY WHO WAS BORN WITH A DISABILITY. SHE WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS SPEARHEADED BY THE KENNEDY FAMILY)