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.
1814 – The War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain was ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.
1818 – Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany composed the music for “Silent Night” to words written by Josef Mohr.
1828 – William Burke who, with his partner William Hare, dug up the dead and murdered to sell the corpses for dissection, went on trial in Edinburgh.
1851 – A fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, destroying about 35,000 volumes.
1865 – Several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, TN, called the Ku Klux Klan.
1906 – Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, MA.
1914 – In World War I, the first air raid on Britain was made when a German airplane dropped a bomb on the grounds of a rectory in Dover.
1928 – The first broadcast of “The Voice of Firestone” was heard.
1943 – U.S. President Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord.
1944 – The Andrews Sisters starred in the debut of “The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-To-The-Bar-Ranch” on ABC Radio.
1944 – A German submarine torpedoed the Belgian transport ship S.S. Leopoldville with 2,235 soldiers aboard. About 800 American soldiers died. The soldiers were crossing the English Channel to be reinforcements at the battle that become known as the Battle of the Bulge.
1948 – For the first time ever, a midnight Mass was broadcast on television. It was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
1948 – The first completely solar-heated house became occupied in Dover, MA.
1951 – NBC-TV presented, “Amal and the Night Visitors,” the first opera written for television.
1951 – Libya achieved independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, under King Idris.
1965 – A meteorite landed on Leicestershire. It weighed about 100lbs.
1966 – Luna 13 landed on the moon.
1967 – Joe Namath (New York Jets) became the first NFL quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards.
1968 – The crew of the U.S. Navy ship, Pueblo, was released by North Korea. The Captain of the Pueblo, Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, and 82 of his crew were held for 11 months after the ship was seized by North Korea because of suspected spying by the Americans.
1968 – Three astronauts, James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman, reached the moon. They orbited the moon 10 times before coming back to Earth. Seven months later man first landed on the moon.
1979 – Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in support of the country’s Marxist government.
1981 – Reggie Jackson announced that he would join Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
1985 – Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, announced that he was a non-smoker.
1989 – Ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega took refuge at the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Panama City.
1990 – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married.
1992 – U.S. President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
1997 – Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as “Carlos the Jackal,” was sentenced by a French court to life in prison for the 1975 murders of two French investigators and a Lebanese national.
1998 – At Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, a tourist was hit by a piece of flying metal while waiting to board a ride. The man’s wife and a Disneyland employee were also injured. Luan Phi Dawson died December 26th from his injuries.
1999 – Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bédié was overthrown in a coup.
1999 – An Indian Airplines plane was seized during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal, to New Delhi. In Afghanistan, the 150 hostages were freed on December 31 after India released three Kashmir militants from prison.
2000 – 36 minutes after the end of a game, both the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins were called back to the playing field. The teams had to play the final 3 seconds of the game which the Dolphins had won 27-24. The end result did not change.
2000 – The “Texas 7,” seven convicts that had escaped a Texas prison, robbed a sports store in Irving, TX. The suspects killed Officer Aubrey Hawkins, stole $70,000, 25 weapons and clothing. The men had escaped on December 13.