Contact Us

10 Unusual Historical Events That Happened During Christmas

Christmas History
Getty Images, Wiki Commons

Everyone knows Christmas Day is all about tearing open presents, spending time with loved ones, gorging on lots of good food and celebrating the holiday spirit in general. Even though most of us have got the holiday thing down by now, some folks out there might not be aware of some of the unusual and history-making events marking Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in the past.

A few of these notable episodes tie into the holidays, while others have nothing to do with Christmas at all. So set the eggnog and gingerbread cookies aside for a moment, and take a look back with us at some of the oddest and most important historical events that have occurred on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Christmas Day, 1990, The Internet Gets Its First Test Run

Internet Launch Date
Allison Joyce, Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine that the internet hasn’t been around since the beginning of time, but it hasn’t. The internet actually got its first test run in 1990, on Christmas Day. It was a special moment, indeed, when info.cern.ch, the planet’s first web server, was up and running.

It makes sense that the technology wizards working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) were some of the men and women behind the creation of this modern marvel (a special thanks goes out to Tim Berners-Lee), even though most of us now take the internet for granted.

Washington Crosses the Delaware River in 1776

Washington Crosses Delaware
Emanuel Leutze (Public Domain), Wiki Commons

General George Washington crossed the Delaware River during the evening of December 25th, 1776. Every schoolboy and schoolgirl around probably knows why he made his famous Revolutionary War crossing when he did. Washington wanted to catch the Hessian mercenaries (employed by the British military) by surprise, in the midst of their holiday celebrations. He did.

The general crushed the enemy and captured plenty of arms and prisoners at the same time. Washington and his men won an outstanding Christmas victory, which went down in the American history books.

WWI Christmas Truce Soccer Games

World War II
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

One of the most amazing and bizarre things to happen on Christmas Day came amidst the blood and carnage of the trench warfare so common to the battlefields of WWI. For several days, during the holiday celebrations, temporary ceasefires broke out between the British and German forces serving along the Western Front.

Even though these men had been slaughtering each other only days, if not hours prior, some of them ventured across enemy lines and brought Christmas gifts with them. Groups of soldiers even sang carols with their enemies and played a few pickup games of soccer. War can often be brutal and strange, yet somehow peppered with acts of kindness.

USSR Invades Afghanistan in 1979

Afghan Guerrillas
Peter Jouvenal, Getty Images

Before the United States ever put forces on the ground in Afghanistan (America’s longest war), the Soviet Union fought a war in the country first. On December 24th and 25th, 1979, the USSR began its deployment of military hardware and personnel into the volatile region. The Russians and their allies chose this time of year to enter the country because the rest of the world was busy celebrating Christmas, which delayed the diplomatic responses of the Western powers to the military incursion.

Isaac Newton Was Born on Christmas Day

Sir Godfrey Kneller (Public Domain), Getty Images

Sir Isaac Newton, the brilliant English scientist who first identified what gravity actually was, was born on Christmas Day in 1642 (according to the calendar being used at the time). In addition to his famous “discovery” of gravitational forces, he was also a pioneering mathematician and researcher in the field of optics. His contributions to humanity through the sciences and philosophy can’t be overstated. The birth of this amazing man could even be considered a Christmas gift to mankind. He was that important.

Charlie Chaplin Passes Away

Charlie Chaplin, one of the most famous comedic actors to have ever lived, died in 1977 on Christmas Day. The beloved film icon passed away in his sleep at the age of 88.

Charlie was a pioneering actor and director in the era of silent film. He was known for classic cinema gems like ‘Kid Auto Races At Venice’ (1914), ‘The Tramp’ (1915), ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940) and many others. Chaplin was a physical comedy genius, who at the height of his fame, was loved all over the world.

Apollo 8 Reaches the Moon’s Orbit

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the American manned space mission, Apollo 8, reached the moon’s orbit. Apollo 8 was the first piloted spacecraft of any kind to break free from the Earth’s orbit and then circle around another celestial body. In honor of the historic event, the astronauts aboard the ship sent out a special live Christmas Eve broadcast, complete with images of the Earth and the moon, along with readings from the book of Genesis.

Mikhail Gorbachev Resigns as Soviet President

Long before al-Qaeda was ever on the bad guy radar, the Soviet Union (now broken up into Russia and other republics) was considered America’s most formidable enemy. That all changed back in the late 1980s, with the open policy of Glasnost.

Glasnost led to more freedom, and the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union. With the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the USSR and the chief architect of Glasnost, the trend became irreversible. Mikhail quit his post on December 25th, 1991. His political legacy changed the balance of world power forever.

The Song ‘Silent Night’ Is First Performed in Public

‘Silent Night’ is a traditional holiday carol that has been sung during the Yuletide season for close to 200 years now. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, evocative of the deeper meanings beneath modern-day Christmas consumerism.

The carol, known as ‘Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht’ in German, was first performed in the Austrian village of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve in 1818, at a Midnight Mass in the church of Saint Nicholas. From that special moment on, this lovely carol was engraved into the soul of Christmas.

President Andrew Johnson Pardons All Confederate Soldiers

ckamauga
Library of Congress (Public Domain), Wiki Commons

The American Civil War was a bloody affair. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians lost their lives in this epic struggle. When peace finally came, there was a lot of debate about wartime reparations, rebuilding the South, and what should be done with the Confederate soldiers.

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson decided to pardon most of the Confederate soldiers who applied for amnesty. Toward the end of his term, the president went even further. On Dec. 25, 1868, he pardoned every single Confederate military participant, thus helping heal a deeply wounded nation.

Win McNamee, Getty Images
Win McNamee, Getty Images
[

Governor Perry Is Sending Troops To The Texas-Mexico Border

Governor Rick Perry announced Monday he was sending a thousand troops to the border with Mexico to combat the border crisis, and said that process will happen over the next month.

Read More|Comment

Malaysian Airlines Flight Reported Missing On Route To Beijing
[

Malaysian Passenger Jet With 295 Onboard Crashes Near Ukraine-Russia Border [UPDATED]

A Malaysia Airlines jet carrying nearly 300 people crashed near the border between Russia and Ukraine, according to Reuters and Interfax. The airline company has confirmed that it has lost contact with the plane, a Boeing 777.

Read More|Comment

Category: News, World News
Stuart Scott
ESPN, YouTube
[

Watch Stuart Scott’s Heartbreaking Speech at the ESPYs [VIDEO]

Longtime ESPN personality Stuart Scott literally took center stage at Tuesday night's ESPY Awards when he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. And his speech did not disappoint.

Read More|Comment

Category: News, Sports, Television Tags:
McAllen Police Dept
McAllen Police Dept
[

Texas Judge Arrested for DWI

Late Saturday night, Nora Longoria, a justice with the 13th Court of Appeals in McAllen was arrested and charged with suspicion of DWI. 

Read More|Comment

Category: Texas News Tags:
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
[

Thousands Help Lone Survivor After Her Family Is Killed in Spring, TX

After her family was killed execution style last Wednesday near Houston, people are coming out in droves to help the 15-year old sole survivor.

Cassidy Stay's parents and four siblings were killed in the shootings at their home, but Cassidy survived after a bullet grazed her head and she played dead until the violence ended. Now almost $300,000 has been raised for her benefit, as she starts her new life without her family.

Read More|Comment

Getty Images-Online USA
Getty Images-Online USA
[

Lone Ranger Outfit Brings In Big Bucks at Texas Auction

The family of a late businessman and collector decided to put the original Lone Ranger outfit on the auction block, and it brought in $195,000 at the auction in Waco Saturday.

Read More|Comment

Monkey Business
Monkey Business
[

Three Weeks Left To Nominate a Lufkin Small Business Of The Year

Do you have a favorite ice cream shop, burger joint, lawn service or barber?  Tell everyone about them!

Now is the time to nominate your favorite Mom or Pop shop for Small Business of the Year with the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce.

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News, News Tags: ,
David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images
[

Game Wardens Have Been Targeting Lakes Looking for Drunk Boaters

If one of your favorite things to do during the summer is pack some frosty beverages on ice and head to the lake, be safe when you hop on the boat!

Read More|Comment

Category: East Texas News, News Tags:
Texas Tech Cheerleader Hunter Kendall Jones
Facebook
[

Facebook Deletes Hunting Pics Posted By Texas Tech Cheerleader

Pictures on Texas Tech Cheerleader Kendall Jones' Facebook page went viral recently, and now Facebook has deleted some of them.

Read More|Comment

Deadly Mosquito
[

There May Be A Reason Why Mosquitoes Target You And Not Others

If you feel like mosquitoes love you, there may be a scientific reason behind it.

And how can you encourage them to leave you alone?

Read More|Comment

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://ksfa860.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on NEWSTALK 860 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on NEWSTALK 860 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!