It is the day we celebrate Christmas but around the world and down the years there have been many notable things that happened on December 25th. If you can still concentrate after the excesses of today, settle down for a short history lesson with a rundown of things that happened on December 25th:
The first recorded Christmas celebration took place in Rome – or so it is speculated. Some sources quote that the first possible date Christmas Day could have been celebrated was 337 – and this is because of the adjustments made with the shift from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. 352 is the year cited as being the first “definite” date Christmas Day was celebrated on December 25th.
One of the most notable events in British history – the Norman Conquest – culminated on December 25th when William the Conqueror was crowned William I, after having defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
St Francis of Assisi assembles the first ever Nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, having been inspired by his visit to the Holy Land.
The Santa Maria ran aground on a sandbank off the coast of Hispaniola, which today is the site of Cap-Haitien, Haiti. The Santa Maria was one of the ships in which Christopher Columbus journeyed to the New World. The wreck hasn’t been found but the ship’s anchor is in the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Isaac Newton was born. The Englishman went on to be one of the greatest physicists, mathematicians, astronomers, and philosophers the world has known. He died at the age of 84 in 1726, having wowed the world with his discoveries and theories.
Halley’s Comet was seen by German farmer Johann Georg Palitzsch. It was far from the first time it had been seen, but it was the first appearance that confirmed Edward Halley’s theory of the comet’s appearance every 75/76 years. The next scheduled appearance is 2061.
In a seminal moment of the American War of Independence, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces employed by the British at Trenton, New Jersey.
The world heard the first rendition of the first recognized Christmas Carol. Silent Night was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber (music) and Joseph Mohr (lyrics) and its inaugural performance was at Midnight Mass in the little church of Oberndorf bei Salzburg in Austria.
Alabama became the first US state to declare Christmas as a legal holiday. Louisiana and Arkansas followed in 1838. All states eventually followed with the last one to succumb being Oklahoma in 1907.
Three years after the end of the American Civil War, President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all persons involved in Southern rebellion (Civil War). It went ahead despite great opposition.
Prolific American inventor Thomas Edison married his first of three wives, 16 year old Mary Stilwell, who was an employee in one of his shops. Mary died in 1884, having borne three children.
John Philip Sousa composed The Stars and Stripes Forever. It was declared the official National March of the USA by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1987.
One of the world’s most revered actors was born. It’s hard to believe that it was more than a century ago that Humphrey Bogart entered the world! His films endure and long may they do so!
The now legendary "Christmas Truce" takes place on the battlefields of WWI between British and Germans troops – it was reported that gifts were exchanged and football played. It’s one of the most significant things that happened on Christmas day to remember in 2014, this year being the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.
Students stole Scotland’s ancient Coronation stone – the Stone of Scone - from Westminster Abbey. It was returned via the Abbey of Arbroath in 1951. Following years of contention, the Stone was returned to Scotland in 1996 and now sits alongside the Honours of Scotland (Scottish Crown Jewels) in Edinburgh Castle.
In Liverpool, England, 17 year old Richard Starkey was given his first real drum kit. It was second-hand but that didn’t matter. Richard Starkey changed his name to Ringo Starr, joined The Beatles and a musical legend was born. And also ...
Shane MacGowan was born. You probably don’t recognize the name but he deserves a place on this list for one simple reason. He wrote one of the most iconic Christmas songs of modern times, performing it with his band The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – A Fairytale of New York.
Queen Elizabeth II made her first Christmas Speech. The Royal Christmas Message began in 1932 when King George V (Queen Liz’s Grandfather) addressed the nation by radio. Today it is broadcast on the TV, radio and the internet.
The Australian city of Darwin in Northern Australia was devastated by Cyclone Tracy. It killed 66 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Switzerland. A man who spread joy and happiness with his silent antics departed the world at the age of 88, leaving behind a collection of iconic movies. Unfortunately, there are incredibly sad things that happened on December 25th in years past.
The first live telecast of the Disney Christmas Parade at the Epcot Center was broadcast.
It is reported that the first successful trial of what we now know as the World Wide Web was conducted. The notion of this happening on Christmas Day may be more romantic than actuality – because wouldn’t a married scientist be spending Christmas Day at home with his family? – but whether the date is absolute fact or not, it is thanks to the genius of British scientist Tim Berners-Lee that you are reading this today.
General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev resigned, paving the way for the dissolution of the USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The break up began the next day. Gorbachev announced his resignation as the eighth and final leader of the Communist superpower that had already gone out of existence on Soviet television.
The British built space probe, the Beagle II – named after Charles Darwin’s ship, which managed two incredible voyages of discovery – failed to land on Mars as scheduled. The confirmation message was never received and the probe was never heard from again.
In another act of warfare – modern this time – passengers aboard a Northwest Airlines flight foiled an attempt to blow up the plane as it was landing in Detroit by seizing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian accused of trying to set off explosives in his underwear.
And on Christmas Day in 2014, I hope you are having/have had a momentous day in your own fashion. Compliments of the season to you!
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