In A.D. 336, the first known commemoration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.
In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey, during the American Revolutionary War.
In 1818, “Silent Night (Stille Nacht)” was publicly performed for the first time during the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.
In 1962, the movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” adapted from the Harper Lee novel and starring Gregory Peck, opened in Los Angeles.
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo) and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. Former baseball manager Billy Martin, 61, died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.
In 1995, singer Dean Martin died at his Beverly Hills home at age 78.
In 1999, space shuttle Discovery’s astronauts finished their repair job on the Hubble Space Telescope and released it back into orbit.
In 2003, 16 people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California’s San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (pur-VEHZ’ moo-SHAH’-ruhv) survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 17 other people were killed.
In 2006, James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” died in Atlanta at age 73.
In 2009, passengers aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 foiled an attempt to blow up the plane as it was landing in Detroit by seizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO’-mahr fah-ROOK’ ahb-DOOL’-moo-TAH’-lahb), who tried to set off explosives in his underwear. (Abdulmutallab later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.)
Ten years ago: Five members of a family — three children and their grandparents — died in a Christmas morning blaze in Stamford, Connecticut, that was blamed on burning embers in a trash can. A suicide bombing of a Catholic church near Nigeria’s capital left at least 44 people dead.
Five years ago: A Russian Tu-154 carrying 92 people to Syria crashed into the Black Sea shortly after takeoff from Sochi, killing all 92 people on board. Decrying the suffering in Syria, Pope Francis wished Christmas peace and hope for all those scarred by war and terrorism, which he said was sowing “fear and death in the heart of many countries and cities.” George Michael, who rocketed to stardom with WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career, died at his home in Goring, England, at age 53.
One year ago: A recreational vehicle parked in the deserted streets of downtown Nashville exploded early Christmas morning, damaging dozens of buildings, causing widespread communications outages and grounding holiday travel at the city’s airport; investigators later determined that the bomber, a 63-year-old Nashville-area man, was killed in the explosion. Pope Francis made a Christmas Day plea for authorities to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all, insisting that the first in line should be the most vulnerable and needy. Amid coronavirus restrictions, the annual Christmas morning reenactment of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River could only be seen online, in a video that was made earlier in the month. Bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice died at his North Carolina home at 69.
Today’s Birthdays: Author Anne Roiphe is 86. Actor Hanna Schygulla (SHEE’-goo-lah) is 78. R&B singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 77. Actor Gary Sandy is 76. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 75. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 75. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 73. Actor Sissy Spacek is 72. Blues singer/guitarist Joe Louis Walker is 72. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 71. Actor CCH Pounder is 69. Singer Annie Lennox is 67. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 67. Country singer Steve Wariner is 67. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 64. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 63. The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 63. Actor Klea Scott is 53. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 50. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 50. Singer Dido is 50. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 49. R&B singer Ryan Shaw is 41. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 39. Pop singers Jess and Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 37. Actor Perdita Weeks is 36. Rock singer-musician Lukas Nelson (Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) is 33.