December 10 - Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales
December 10th is believed to be the day the Inuit people of Alaska celebrate the Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales. The holiday sounds intriguing, but is not, apparently, well known to the Inuit of northern Alaska. But there is some basis, although somewhat tenuous, for the Souls of Dead Whales calendar item.
The Inuit people living in northern Alaska have been hunting bowhead whales for several thousand years. Subsistence whaling is central to survival in the harsh Arctic environment, and the culture; community organization, beliefs and ceremonies, all revolve around it.
"To us the Arctic Ocean has always been our garden during good times and hard times; it's where we get our nutritional needs," said Ronald H. Brower, Sr., director of the Inuit Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska. "We don't have fruits and vegetables, but the bowhead has minerals and vitamins that provide the nutritional requirements needed to live in the Arctic environment."
Between 60 to 70 percent of the northern Inuit diet consists of whale meat. The Inuit people believe that the animals they hunt have spirits. There are many rituals associated with the hunt itself and three celebrations each year designed to show respect for the souls of the animals, bring luck to the hunt, and to give thanks to the spirits of the animals that have been killed for food.
"Our traditions tell us that the whale is giving itself to us," said Brower. "Traditions taught us that while man is the hunter, it is the woman who maintains the sanctity of the home, and it is to that woman the spirit of the whale is giving itself to."
The wife of the captain of each whaling crew has special ritual duties to perform to encourage the spirit of the whale to give itself to the hunters. After spending some time in the human community, the spirit of the whale returns to the sea to tell other whales how it was treated.
December 10 - Mighty Mouse's Birthday
Created by I. (Izzy) Klein in the spring of 1940, this character was originally designed as a fly. The project was green-lighted after changing the fly to a mouse named, "Supermouse".
Originally created as a parody of Superman, he first appeared in 1942 in a theatrical animated short entitled The Mouse of Tomorrow. He originally had a blue costume with a red cape, like Superman; but over time this changed to a yellow costume with a red cape. As with other imitations of Superman, his super powers allow him to fly, and make him incredibly strong and invulnerable.
After two years on the screen, the Supermouse name was changed to Mighty Mouse. Some reports are that the threat of a lawsuit from DC Comics was behind this name change. Others insist that production did not want to compete against a character of the same name that an ex-TerryToons employee drew for Coo Coo Comics.
In any case, in 1944, the character's name was changed, and the Supermouse cartoons were retitled to the new name, Mighty Mouse!