0800 – Charlemagne was crowned first Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III.
1066 – William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.
1223 – St. Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes, in Greccio, Italy.
1776 – Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, NJ.
1818 – “Silent Night” was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria.
1868 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War.
1894 – The University of Chicago became the first Midwestern football team to play on the west coast. U.C. defeated Stanford, 24-4, in Palo Alto, CA.
1896 – John Philip Sousa finally titled the melody “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
1914 – During World War I, British and German troops observed an unofficial truce and even playing football together on the Western Front.
1917 – The play “Why Marry?” opened at the Astor Theatre in New York City. “Why Marry?” was the first dramatic play to win a Pulitzer Prize.
1926 – Hirohito became the emperor of Japan after the death of his father Emperor Taisho.
1930 – The Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled run at Lake Placid, New York opened to the public. It was the first bobsled track of international specifications to open in the U.S.
1931 – Lawrence Tibbett was the featured vocalist as radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The first opera was “Hansel und Gretel” and was heard on the NBC network of stations.
1937 – Arturo Toscanini conducted the first broadcast of “Symphony of the Air” over NBC radio.
1939 – “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, was read on CBS radio for the first time.
1941 – Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese.
1946 – W.C. Fields died at the age of 66.
1950 – Dick Tracy married on Tess Truehart.
1962 – The Department of Commerce Census Clock in Washington, DC, recorded the U.S. population on this day as 188,000,000.
1971 – The longest pro-football game to date finally ended when Garo Yepremian kicked a field goal in the second quarter of sudden death overtime. The Miami Dolphins defeated Kansas City, 27-24. The total game time was 82 minutes and 40 seconds.
1972 – The Nicaraguan capital Managua was hit by an earthquake. Over 10,000 people were killed.
1979 – The USSR invaded Afghanistan in a bid to halt civil war and protect USSR interests.
1989 – Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising.
1989 – Former baseball player and manager Billy Martin died in a truck crash in Fenton, NY.
1989 – Dissident playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia.
1991 – Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as leader of a Communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.
1998 – Seven days into their journey, Richard Branson, Steve Fossett and Per Lindstrand of Sweden gave up their attempt to make the first nonstop round-the-world balloon flight. They ditched near Hawaii.
2000 – Over 300 people were killed and dozens were injured by fire at a Christmas party in the Chinese city of Luoyang. The incident occurred at the Dongdu Disco.