It happened today – on this day in history – December 25

352: The first definite date Christmas was celebrated on this day.

597: England adopts the Julian calendar.

800: Pope Leo III crowns Charles the Great (Charlemagne) Roman Emperor.

1066: William the Conqueror is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.

1223: St Francis of Assisi assembles the first Nativity scene in Greccio, Italy.

1492: Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Santa María runs aground and sinks on the north coast of Hispaniola. The crew is left to form a colony and Columbus returns to Spain.

1642: Physicist Isaac Newton is born in Lincs.

1741: Astronomer Anders Celcius introduces the centigrade temperature scale.

1868: Despite bitter opposition, US President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardons to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion (Civil War).

1914: The legendary “Christmas Truce” takes place on the battlefields of the First World War between British and German troops. Instead of fighting, soldiers exchange gifts and play football.

1926: Crown Prince Hirohito assumes the Japanese throne upon the death of his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

1938: Director George Cukor announced that after a long publicised search, Vivien Leigh will play Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”.

1939: Rudolph the red nosed reindeer first appears in a booklet released by the US department store Montgomery Ward.

1946: Death of W C Fields aged 67.

1950: The Coronation Stone, taken from Scone in Scotland by Edward I in 1296, is stolen from Westminster Abbey and smuggled back to Scotland.

1952: The Queen gives her first Christmas broadcast since her accession to the throne.

1954: Singer Johnny Ace shoots himself dead backstage at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas. He was playing with a revolver during a break between sets, someone in the room said: “Be careful with that thing’’ and he said ‘It’s OK the gun’s not loaded, see?’’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face.

1957: American murderer and bodysnatcher Ed Gein is found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was considered fit for trial 11 years later.

1967: Paul McCartney and actress Jane Asher get engaged.


1968: Singles chart:

  1. Lily The Pink – The Scaffold
  2. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations
  3. Ain’t Got No I Got Life – Nina Simone
  4. 1-2-3 O’Leary – Des O’Connor
  5. Sabre Dance – Love Sculpture
  6. I’m The Urban Spaceman – The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
  7. Ob La Di Ob La Da – Marmalade
  8. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Hugo Montenegro
  9. Albatross – Fleetwood Mac
  10. Race With The Devil – Gun

1973: Dutch midfielder Johan Cruyff wins his second Ballon d’Or.

1974: Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory is wrecked by a powerful cyclone that leaves thousands of people homeless.

1977: Film legend Charlie Chaplin dies in Switzerland aged 88. On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin meets with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Egypt.

1979: Soviet forces invade Afghanistan. On the same day, Kevin Keegan wins the Ballon d’Or.

1987: Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 and escaped from prison two days earlier, is recaptured.

1989: Deposed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena are shot after being found guilty of crimes against the state.

1991: Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, steps down from office.

1994: The Beatles – Live At The BBC

1994: Album chart:

  1. Carry On Up The Charts – The Best Of.. – The Beautiful South
  2. Crocodile Shoes – Jimmy Nail
  3. Steam – East 17
  4. Cross Road… The Best Of – Bon Jovi
  5. Always And Forever – Eternal
  6. Live At The BBC – The Beatles
  7. The Hit List – Cliff Richard
  8. Fields Of Gold … The Best Of – Sting
  9. Bizarre Fruit – M People
  10. We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong

1995: Singer/actor Dean Martin (Dino Crocetti) dies of throat cancer aged 78.

1998: Bryan MacLean, guitarist with Love and writer of their biggest hit Alone Again Or, dies of a heart attack aged 62 while having Christmas dinner with a young fan who was researching a book about the band.

2003: Scientists fail to make contact with the British-built probe Beagle 2, which should have landed on Mars earlier in the day.

2006: Soul legend James Brown dies aged 73 after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia. Brown went to his dentist in Atlanta the previous day who told him something was wrong, and sent him to a doctor immediately.

2008: Singer/actress Eartha Kitt dies from colon cancer aged 81.

2009: Singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt dies from an overdose of muscle relaxants that had left him in a coma.

2011: Mothers of Invention saxophonist Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood dies aged 69.

2016: Singer-songwriter George Michael (Georgios Panayiotou) dies at his home aged 53 from dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver. On the same day, percussionist Alphonse Mouzon dies from cancer aged 68.

2019: George Michael’s sister Melanie Panayiotou died suddenly age 59 on the third anniversary of her brother’s death.

BIRTHDAYS: Pete Brown, lyricist, 80; Jairzinho (Jair Ventura Filho) Brazilian football legend, 76; Merry Clayton , singer, 72; Sissy (Mary Elizabeth) Spacek, actress, 71; Annie Lennox, singer-songwriter, 66; Robin Campbell, guitarist/singer (UB40) 66; Shane Magowan, singer-songwriter (The Pogues) 63; Chris Kamara, footballer/pundit, 63; Gary McAllister, footballer, 56; Helena Christensen, photographer/model, 52; Dido (Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong) singer-songwriter, 49; Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada; Marcus Trescothick, cricketer, 45; Sir Alastair Cook, cricketer, 36; Georgia Tennant ( Moffett), actress, 36; Jorgie Porter, actress, 33.