Christmas Day in History - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Christmas Day in History

Highlights in History for December 25:

On Dec. 25, 1818, "Silent Night," written by Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

On Dec. 25:

In A.D. 336, the first recorded celebration 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, N.J.

In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)

In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.

In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, Calif., at age 66.

In 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.

In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising.

In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died of heart failure in Atlanta at age 73.

Ten years ago: British mogul Richard Branson, American millionaire Steve Fossett and Per Lindstrand of Sweden gave up their attempt to make the first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight seven days into their journey, ditching off Hawaii.

Five years ago: Sixteen people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California's San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 16 other people, including three suicide bombers, were killed. A plane crashed after taking off from Benin, killing at least 130 of the 161 people aboard. Europe's tiny Mars lander, the Beagle 2, was supposed to go into orbit around the Red Planet, but the craft was lost.

One year ago: A tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped her enclosure and killed a park visitor; two brothers also were mauled, but survived. Russia's military successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded near Nigeria's main city of Lagos, killing at least 40 people.

Dec. 25 Birthdays: Singer Tony Martin is 95. Actor Dick Miller is 80. Actress Hanna Schygulla is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 64. Actor Gary Sandy is 63. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 62. Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 62. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 60. Actress Sissy Spacek is 59. Actress CCH Pounder is 56. Singer Annie Lennox is 54. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 54. Country singer Steve Wariner is 54. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 51. Baseball player Rickey Henderson is 50. Actress Klea Scott is 40. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 37. Singer Dido is 37. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 36. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 26.

Thought for Dec. 25: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" - Bob Hope, American comedian (1903-2003).            

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)      

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