Daily Almanac for Monday, February 20, 2023

On this date in 1877, Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered. Here is the famous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky By Atelier E. Bieber, Hamburg (probably by Leonard Berlin (1841-1931)) – https www.flickr.com photos bergen_public_library 5775463761, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Swan Lake (Russian: Лебединое озеро, tr. Lebedinoye ozeroIPA: [lʲɪbʲɪˈdʲinəjə ˈozʲɪrə] listen (help·info)), Op. 20, is a ballet composed by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. Despite its initial failure, it is now one of the most popular ballets of all time.

The scenario, initially in two acts, was fashioned from Russian and German folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger (Václav Reisinger). The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March [O.S. 20 February] 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January 1895, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky’s score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre’s chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo.

Adelaide Giuri [ru] as Odette and Mikhail Mordkin as Prince Siegfried in Aleksandr Gorsky’s staging of the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 1901. A young Vera Karalli is seen kneeling. By Unknown author, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Presidents’ Day (U.S.)

Though this day is commonly called Presidents’ Day, the federal holiday is still called “Washington’s Birthday,” contrary to popular belief. It is one of eleven permanent holidays established by Congress. George Washington’s actual birthday is February 22, but we observe federal holidays on Mondays (in this case, the third Monday of February). To complicate matters, Washington was actually born on February 11 in 1731 because the country switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar during his lifetime (something most of Europe had done in 1582). As a result of this calendar reform, people born before 1752 were told to add 11 days to their birth dates. Those born between January 1 and March 25, as Washington was, also had to add one year to be in sync with the new calendar. By the time Washington became president in 1789, he celebrated his birthday on February 22 and listed his year of birth as 1732. Upon entering office, Washington was not convinced that he was the right man for the job. He wrote, “My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit, who is going to the place of his execution.” Fortunately for the young country, he was wrong. Learn more facts and folklore about Presidents’ Day.

Question of the Day

Can you tell me a bit about Ansel Adams?

Ansel Adams was born on February 20, 1902. Four years later, in 1906, he broke his nose by falling during an aftershock of the San Francisco earthquake—an accident that left a permanent scar. As an adult, Ansel became a world-famous photographer of the American West.

Advice of the Day

Pisceans tend to be sensitive, compassionate, sympathetic, and imaginative.

Home Hint of the Day

Don’t bother to burn wet or green firewood. Aside from the creosote problem it causes, it takes a lot of heat to boil the moisture out of wood, and that heat isn’t recoverable.

Word of the Day


18 inches; derived from distance between elbow and tip of middle finger.

Puzzle of the Day

Why didn’t the dog want to go into the ark?

He had a bark (ship) of his own.


  • Frederick Douglass (abolitionist) – 1895
  • Walter Winchell (journalist) – 1972
  • Alice Roosevelt Longworth (last surviving child of Teddy Roosevelt) – 1980
  • Rene Dubos (environmentalist, microbiologist) – 1982
  • Dick York (actor) – 1992
  • Gene Siskel (film critic) – 1999
  • Sandra Dee (actress) – 2005
  • John Raitt (actor) – 2005
  • Hunter S. Thompson (journalist and author who unleashed the concept of gonzo journalism” in books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) – 2005


  • Ansel Adams (photographer) – 1902
  • Sidney Poitier (actor) – 1927
  • Phil Esposito (hockey player) – 1942
  • Charles Barkley (basketball player) – 1963
  • Cindy Crawford (model) – 1966
  • Lili Taylor (actress) – 1967
  • Trevor Noah (television host, comedian) – 1984
  • Rihanna (singer) – 1988
  • Olivia Rodrigo (singer) – 2003


  • George Washington signed the Postal Act, creating the Federal Postal System with a per-mile rate structure– 1792
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York City– 1872
  • Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered– 1877
  • An auto-airplane combination, Arrowbile, completed for testing– 1937
  • V-2 rocket launched fruit flies to 68-mile altitude– 1947
  • Carolyn Cummins gave birth to the first of her five children. The second was born in 1953, 3rd in 1956, 4th in 1961 and the 5th in 1966. All five children have the same birthday.– 1952
  • Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He made 3 trips around the earth in his Mercury-Atlas spacecraft, Friendship 7, in just under 5 hours– 1962
  • U.S.S.R.’s Mir space station launched– 1986
  • The Station nightclub experienced the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, killing 100 people and injuring more than 200. The fire started when pyrotechnics set off by Great White, the rock band playing that night, lit flammable soundproofing foam behind the stage– 2003
  • Regeneration of Silene stenophylla from 30,000-year-old fruit tissue announced– 2012


  • A tornado tracked 15 miles from Shreveport to Abner, Louisiana, killed 8 people, and injured 50– 1912
  • The temperature in Los Angeles, California, hit 95 degrees F, a record high for the month of February– 1995

COURTESY www.almanac.com