CHARLOTTE, NC: Christmas is past. The New Year is here. However, lest we forget, many an important things happened on December 25th – other than the gifts of the Magi.
With apologies to Clement C. Moore and thanks to Mental Floss, Myth Trivia takes a look at ten events that took place on Christmas day that had nothing to do with Christmas.
In numerical order —
THE JULIAN CALENDAR REINTRODUCED TO ENGLAND (597) —
In 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar by edict to become the predominant calendar in the Roman world and most of Europe. Over the centuries the calendar was refined and replaced in 1582 by the Gregorian calendar of Pope Gregory XIII.
In England however, the Julian calendar took nearly two centuries to be reintroduced as the preferred method of marking the dates of the year. Finally on December 25, 597 the British came around and re-adopted Caesar’s method of marking time.
It took another 200 years to reject the Julian calendar and begin using the Gregorian model, accepting the newer version in the 1750’s.
CHARLEMAGNE CROWNED HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR (800) —
He was known as “the father of Europe” in large part due to aiding in the explosion of culture and intellect known as the Carolingian Renaissance.
“Charles the Great” united much of western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. During his 14-year reign, he removed the Lombards from power in northern Italy, led an incursion into Muslim Spain and fought against the Saxons to the east. In the process, many people became Christian converts under penalty of death.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR BECOMES KING OF ENGLAND (1066) —
On Christmas Day 1066, William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey thanks to his victory over arch-rival Harold several months earlier at the Battle of Hastings.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS’ SANTA MARIA SINKS AT HISPANOLA (1492) —
Of the three ships used by Columbus in 1492, the Santa María was the largest, but also the slowest of his vessels.
Without sleep for two days, Columbus went to bed at 11 p.m. on December 24th upon calm seas. The steersman also decided to take a nap, leaving only a cabin boy at the helm.
When wind currents carried the ship onto a sandbank, it ran aground and sank near what is today Cape Haitien, Haiti.
With his flagship beyond repair, the captain ordered as many timbers to be salvaged as possible, and built a fort called La Navidad (Christmas).
Talk about using lemons to do something positive, Fort Christmas was actually constructed just north of the modern day village of Limonade!
RETURN OF HALLEY’S COMET FIRST SIGHTED (1758) —
Johann Georg Palitzsch, a German farmer and amateur astronomer, gave credence to Sir Edmond Halley’s theory of a 76-year cycle for the comet.
Halley’s comet is the only known short-period comet that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. It last appeared in 1986 and will return again in mid-2061 meaning that some people will witness the heavenly phenomenon twice in their lifetimes.
There is no record, of what happens to Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen, Prancer, Blitzen, Donner and, of course, Rudolph during the interim.
WASHINGTON CROSSES THE DELAWARE AND DEFEATS THE HESSIANS (1776) —
We’ve all seen the famous 1851 painting by Robert Colescott depicting George Washington crossing the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War. The actual event occurred on Christmas Day and the morning of December 26th as part of a surprise attack on Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey.
Other planned attacks were either cancelled or ineffective, but the future prez did defeat Johann Rall and returned with prisoners from his victory.
There is no record of how much time was lost while Washington was posing for the painting.
FIRST THEATER MATINEE PRESENTED AT THE OLYMPIC IN NEW YORK CITY (1843) —
What do you do after all the packages are unwrapped and the mayhem subsides on Christmas morning? Why not do a matinee on Broadway? It happened on Christmas in 1843.
JOHN PHILIP SOUSA COMPOSES STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER (1896) —
Nobody ever wrote more stirring marches than John Philip Sousa. Just before the turn of the 20th century, Sousa wrote the Stars and Stripes Forever which was declared the official march of the United States in 91 years later in 1987.
Imagine what Sousa could have accomplished had he written something in…well…March, just for kicks.
RINGO STARR GETS HIS FIRST DRUM SET (1959) —
This one is debatable as to whether it should make the list because Ringo probably got his drums from Santa Claus. We’ll let you decide if this one is legit.
KATIE HNIDA BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN TO PLAY IN A DIVISION I COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME (2002) —
Katie Hnida graduated Magna Cum Laude from New Mexico University with a degree in Psychology, but she is best known as being a collegiate sports pioneer. Hnida was the first woman to dress for a complete Division 1 football game and play. At the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day 2002, the place-kicker attempted an extra point that was blocked.
Some might find a bit of irony in that result, but Katie connected twice against Texas State the following year to become the first woman ever to score in an NCAA Division I game.
You see, some folks are always setting the bar just a little bit higher.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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