Christmas isn’t the only reason to remember December the 25th. Many historical and important events have taken place throughout history on this date. These events have been related to politics, war and even sport. Some of these events can be described as tragic with many having changed the course of history in dramatic ways. We detail 10 events to contemplate over your turkey dinner this December 25th.
1. Washington Crosses the Delaware
On the night of December the 25th 1776 George Washington led thousands of men from the Continental army across the frozen Delaware River in a surprise attack on the Hessian mercenary forces in Trenton New Jersey. The attack was a great success for the American forces at this time and a huge morale boost for the troops who had suffered defeat by the British troops in battle over and over again during this period. The morale boost resulting from this triumph is believed to have been a major driving force for the troops leading to their eventual success in the fight for American independence.
2. Gorbachev’s Resignation
Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union in Russia from 1985 until the date of his resignation on December the 25th 1991. There was also a Ukrainian Referendum held on this date. Both of these events led to the dissolution of The Soviet Union (one of the major superpowers of the 20th Century), dramatically changing the course of Russian history forever.
3. Christmas Truce 1914
On Christmas day in 1914 and in the week preceding, a number of ‘unofficial’ ceasefires took place along the western front at this time of war. Massive numbers of German and British soldiers were reported as exchanging seasonal greetings, engaging in carol singing, joint burials and even games of football.
This heartbreaking story of war is still remembered today in memorials and it has inspired many books, films and other creative works.
4. Halley’s comet confirmed
Halley’s Comet is classified as a short-period comet; it becomes visible every 75-76 years. It is predicted to be visible again on Earth in 2061. This comet has a history of being observed and documented since 240BC. In 1705 a scientist named Edmond Halley brought attention to this comet, predicting that it would return in 1758. He was right in his prediction and it was spotted on December the 25th of that year. Unfortunately Edmond Halley was not around to see it having died in 1742 aged 85. The comet was named in his honour by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1759.
5. First game of Ice Hockey
Legends tell us that the game of ice hockey was realised almost by accident when a group of soldiers belonging to the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment were clearing ice from the surface of the frozen Lake Ontario on December 25th in 1855. Apparently they began to play an improvised game using hockey sticks and lacrosse balls on the ice; little did they know that their makeshift game was to grow into one of the world’s most favoured sports.
6. William the Conqueror crowned
William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England, descended from Viking raiders. He was crowned as king of England on December the 25th 1066. His victory is described by historians as one of the most significant and important events in European history. He took the throne after his invasion of England with his troops defeating King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. He later conquered Wales and Ireland. Many see these events as a starting point for the rivalry between Great Britain and France.
7. Sir Isaac Newtons Birth
Isaac Newton is considered by many to be one of the most distinguished and influential scientists who has ever lived. He was born in a Hamlet in Lincolnshire on December the 25th 1642, however at this time England had not adopted the Gregorian calendar. Born prematurely Newton’s mother reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug.
He is famed for defining the three laws of motion now described as ‘Newton’s laws’. He is also credited with invented calculus. He worked extensively during his lifetime in a number of different fields contributing significantly to the modern understanding of science and astronomy.
8. British surrender Hong Kong
There was a time when Hong Kong was a British crown colony. In 1941 the Japanese began bombing raids on the city. Forewarned of this attack, the British government evacuated a number of the Chinese population to the Philippines but soon the Japanese Navy surrounded Hong Kong blocking off all evacuation routes and cutting off the water and power supply. Facing dehydration and death the British raised the white flag of surrender on Christmas day morning 1941.
9. Completion of the longest battery powered automobile trip
On December the 25th in 1985 David Turner and Tim Pickard arrived in John O’ Groat’s, a northerly settlement in Scotland which is widely regarded as the northernmost point in Britain. They had set off from Lands End in Cornwall four days earlier, a place considered to be one of the most south westerly points in Great Britain. They were transported 875 miles in a green Freight Rover Leyland Sherpa powered by a single battery charge. This journey was a major feat for battery powered automobiles and mechanical engineers at this time.
10. The Christmas Flood disaster
Claiming approximately 14,000 lives, the Christmas Flood of 1717 devastated coastal areas of the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia reaching as far inland as Amsterdam and Groningen. At the time the dams and dikes could not withstand the deluge of water brought in by the storm and there was no flood warning system in place to alert the people. As many as 900 homes were washed away in East Frisia with some towns losing as much as 30% of their population to the waters on this night.