Amidst the revelry, gift-giving, and family reunions that come with the celebration of the birth of our Savior, certain important events in history that coincide with Christmas day are bound to be overlooked. In truth, they shouldn’t be, because although no event in recorded history can be as significant as that night in Bethlehem when Jesus came to this world, they still deserve to be remembered for their importance in shaping our present world.
Here are some significant events that took place on December 25 at various points in history. You would do well to keep these in mind, because as the Holidays draw closer, you may forget them again.
1642. The Birth of Isaac Newton
The physicist, mathematician and astronomer who would introduce the world to new laws of physics, including the Law of Gravity, was born in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, the United Kingdom. It would be nearly 300 years before another man would come along to expand our understanding of the universe to the same extent as Newton. This man, of course, was Albert Einstein.
1066. The Crowning of William the Conqueror
In a matter of months, Duke William of Normandy successfully invaded England, and then became its king. He is best remembered for influencing the English language by introducing many Latin and French words and phrases. It was during his reign that England would become the world power that it remains to be today.
1741. The Introduction of the Centigrade Scale
The Fahrenheit temperature scale, developed in 1724, remained the standard until 1741, when astronomer Anders Celsius introduced a new scale that defined the freezing point of water at 0 degrees and the boiling point at 100 degrees. That 0-to-100 range proved to be more convenient and sensible, so much so that most countries today use the Celsius scale, also known ad the Centigrade scale.
1868. Civil War Amnesty
The end of the Civil War coincided with the end of Abraham Lincoln’s term, in 1865. Three years later, Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson, in a historic gesture of reconciliation, granted unconditional amnesty to all those who fought on the Confederate side.
1914. The Christmas Truce
One of the best-known stories of World War I. On December 25, German and British troops agreed to hold a temporary ceasefire so that both sides could celebrate Christmas. Not only did they stop hostilities, they even sang Christmas carols, exchanged greetings and gifts, and played friendly soccer matches. They resumed fighting soon after New Year’s Day.
1918. The Birth of Anwar Sadat
The man known for initiating peace negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was born in Egypt on Christmas day. Sixty years later, he and Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in the peace treaty between their nations that would eventually be formalized in 1979. The treaty made Egypt the first Arab nation to recognize Israel.
1926. The Rise of Hirohito to Emperor
After his father Yoshito died in 1926, Hirohito assumed the throne, to begin a 63-year reign that would include a widespread invasion of Asian neighbors during World War II. His reign ended when he died on January 7, 1989. As he succeeded his father, so did his son Akihito succeed him.
1968. The Apollo 8 Moon Orbit
Just seven months before Apollo 11 would make history by landing on the moon, America sent astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders into space on the Apollo 8. They became the first humans to orbit the moon. From the spacecraft, Borman signed off, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas -- and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”
1977. The Death of Charlie Chaplin.
The genius behind such comedy classics as The Gold Rush, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator received his Oscar Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972. Five years later, he passed away at the age of 88. Chaplin was one of the pivotal stars in the early years of Hollywood. To this day, his impact on filmmaking is felt, and his movies are enjoyed by film enthusiasts everywhere.
1989. The Execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu
The second and last leader of Communist Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu was a brutal dictator who mismanaged his country’s economy, leading it to financial ruin. A popular revolt backed by the military unseated him, ending 24 years of rule and leading to his execution, alongside his wife Elena. The dual executions signaled the end of Communism in Romania.
1990. The First Test Run of the Internet
The first ever web server, info.cern.ch, was started up, and global transmission of information would never be the same. Initially designed for exchange of information within the scientific and military sectors, the internet has since exploded into the consciousness of billions of people worldwide. And it all started on Christmas day of 1990.
1991. The End of the Cold War.
The resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet president was followed immediately by the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself the next day. Boris Yeltsin took over Gorbachev’s office two days later. A new Russia was born, and the long-standing silent animosity and mistrust between the US and the Soviets came to an end. It was, indeed, a Merry Christmas for the two superpowers.