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During this festive season, it’s easy to only focus on the traditional holidays celebrated, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa – even Festivus. Luckily, there is so much more to know about the last month of the year! Take a break from the expected December lists and learn 12 lesser-known facts about the twelfth month of the year.

1. Rosa Parks made history for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back section of a municipal bus and then her subsequent arrest in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 1, 1955. This significant moment led to legal actions ending racial segregation on municipal buses throughout the South, signaling a paradigm shift for human rights in America.

2. The beloved saying that “Everything is bigger in Texas” apparently applies to tasty treats, too! On Dec. 5, 2013, the Texas A&M Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas completed building the largest gingerbread house in the world, according to Guinness World Records. How big, you ask? It measured an astounding 60 feet long by 42 feet wide by 10.1 feet high. Perhaps the most important measurement, the combination of baking ingredients and sweets, totaled 35,823,400 calories! While gingerbread houses isn’t my specialty, if a larger home is on your wish list for the coming year, a contact me to help make the process simple (and low-calorie).

3. The world became a little more magical on Dec. 5, 1901, when innovator Walter Elias “Walt” Disney was born in Hermosa, Illinois. He went on to found Walt Disney Productions with his brother and perhaps most notably, created the beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Among his many accomplishments, Disney won a remarkable 22 Academy Awards and founded the theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

4. What would you be willing to give up for love? On Dec. 11, 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England to marry a twice-divorced American named Wallis Warfield Simpson. They were married in France on June 3, 1937, and then lived in Paris. The British line of succession was forever altered by this romantic act!

5. Bon voyage! When Sir Francis Drake embarked on his voyage around-the-world, setting sail from England on Dec. 13, 1577, perhaps it’s a good thing most of his crew thought they were only going as far as Egypt. Of the five vessels on the journey, only Drake’s flagship Golden Hind would complete the voyage, eventually sailing 36,000 miles before returning to England in Sept. 1780.

6. Setting their sights high helped propel two men to success and forever changed the way that we travel. On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, ushered in the era of flight and soared into history. Despite no formal engineering training, the brothers defied gravity and human expectations by making the first manned airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

7. If you’re someone who values common sense, you’re probably familiar with Poor Richard’s Almanack. First published on Dec. 19, 1732, the book published annually thereafter contained weather predictions, humor, proverbs and epigrams, and sold nearly 10,000 copies per year. Who was Poor Richard? He was a persona created by founding father Benjamin Franklin.

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8. Ouch! Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear during a fit of depression in December 1888. Van Gogh was a prolific artist responsible for creating about 2100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings in just over a decade, including many self-portraits… some featuring his bandaged ear.

9. Oh, say can you see… that on Dec. 30, 1803, the Stars and Stripes flag was raised over New Orleans as the United States took formal possession of the Louisiana territory. Long considered one of the best bargain purchases in history, the U.S. bought an area of 885,000 square miles from France for approximately $15 million, nearly doubling the size of the country.

10. Times Square became the go-to place for New Year’s Eve revelers as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the iconic New Year’s Eve Ball made its debut. Since that time, seven different versions of the ball have been lowered. In 2007, for the 100th anniversary of the Times Square Ball Drop tradition, Waterford Crystal crafted a spectacular new crystal Ball with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles.

11. George Washington and his ragtag army made their historic trek across the Delaware River to ambush Hessian troops located at Trenton, New Jersey on Dec. 25, 1776. This harrowing journey inspired one of the most iconic works of art from the nineteenth century, Washington Crossing the Delaware by German artist Emanuel Leutze.

12. Swedish inventor and chemist Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize, died on Dec. 10, 1896. During his lifetime, he held over 350 patents with the most famous being dynamite. Upon his passing, his will stated that all his assets should be used to create The Nobel Prize which recognizes those who have made an enormous impact on humanity. These esteemed and coveted awards have been issued annually since 1901 with five categories – Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace.

This month, as you take time to enjoy the great traditions of December, hoping you can spend a few minutes remembering some of the other notable facts about the last month of the year.

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