25 Non-Christmasy Things That Have Happened on December 25

iStock.com/MicroStockHub
iStock.com/MicroStockHub

Over the years, lots of amazing things have happened on December 25. The birth of Jesus Christ, however, was not one of them. J.C.'s arrival—the precise timing of which remains unknown—wasn’t pegged to 12/25 until 336 CE. While it’s certainly come to dominate its calendar square, Christmas isn’t the only reason to celebrate the date. What follows are 25 other incidents and milestones that make December 25 a day worth commemorating with silly songs and colored lights.

1. 597 // The Julian Calendar reintroduced to England

Originally taking effect in 45 BCE and traditionally considered reintroduced to England in 597, it took a little over 200 years for England to fully commit to Julius Caesar's preferred means of measuring time (and they were nearly another 200 years behind the rest of Europe in switching over to the Gregorian calendar in the 1750s). At least Caesar’s hairstyle, on the other hand, never goes out of style.

2. 800 // Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman emperor

In his role, the man also known as Charles the Great and "the father of Europe" helped to foster the Carolingian Renaissance—a glorious explosion of culture and intellect nobody has ever heard of.

3. 1492 // Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria sinks on Hispanola

Ol’ Chris turned lemons to lemonade, using timber from the ship to build a fort near the modern Haitian town of Limonade.

4. 1741 // Astronomer Anders Celsius introduces the Centigrade scale

Some 270 years later, Americans still don’t know what the hell those numbers mean.

5. 1758 // Return of Halley's Comet first sighted

German farmer and amateur astronomer Johann Georg Palitzsch spotted the fireball, confirming Edmond Halley’s theory of 76-year cycles. Before that, everyone had figured it was driven by willy-nilly by demons or elves or something.

6. 1776 // George Washington crosses the Delaware River and defeats 1400 Hessians

He kept telling his men what a righteous painting it would make one day.

7. 1809 // Physician Ephraim McDowell performs the first abdominal surgery in the U.S.

He removed a 22 pound ovarian tumor, but the hardest part was probably getting insurance approval.

8. 1843 // First-ever theater matinee presented at The Olympic in New York City

This would’ve been a good day to get on the waitlist for Hamilton tickets.

9. 1868 // President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to Confederate veterans of the Civil War

And then, a few days later, he celebrated his 60th birthday by throwing a party for 300 of his grandchildren's closest friends.

10. 1873 // Thomas Edison marries his first wife

Mary Stillwell was just 16 when she wed the inventor, who apparently neglected his family in favor of his work. Unless you live in a house without light bulbs, don’t judge.

11. 1896 // John Philip Sousa composes "Stars and Stripes Forever"

The magnum opus of the "March King" was declared the official march of the United States in 1987.

12. 1930 // The Mt. Van Hoevenberg Bobsled Run at Lake Placid, New York opens to the public

America’s first bobsled track built to international standards is on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, the gift shop doesn’t sell "I’m a Luger, Baby" T-shirts.

13. 1931 // The Metropolitan Opera broadcasts its first full opera over the radio

The show was Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, and a critic/color commentator talked through most of it.

14. 1946 // Jimmy Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi

He was promptly swaddled in Hawaiian shirts, baptized in tequila, and worshipped by future yuppies in the nursery.

15. 1959 // Ringo Starr gets his first drum kit

If Pete Best ever gets a time machine, he’s making sure Richard Starkey gets a tuba instead.

16. 1962 // The film version of To Kill a Mockingbird is released

The trial portion of the film takes up twice as much time as in the book because star Gregory Peck demanded more screen time.

17. 1967 // Paul McCartney and Jane Asher announce their engagement

The pair never wed, but Asher can say she inspired such Beatles classics as "And I Love Her" and "Here, There and Everywhere." Plus, she avoided being in Wings.

18. 1968 // Apollo 8 finished its successful moon orbit

Nothing terrible happened, which is why you’ve never seen a movie about it.

19. 1977 // Charlie Chaplin dies

Thanks to his iconic "Tramp" character, the silent film star remains a hero to well-meaning bumblers with funny mustaches.

20. 1985 // Longest-ever battery-powered car trip ends

Two blokes in a Freight Rover Leyland Sherpa drove Great Britain from bottom (Land’s End) to top (John o' Groat's, Scotland) in four days, likely singing Wham! all the way.

21. 1989 // Scientists in Japan achieve -271.8° C, the coldest temperature ever recorded

This was a full 10 degrees colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon.

22. 1991 // Gorbachev resigns as president of the USSR

Six years later, he starred in a Pizza Hut commercial.

23. 1997 // Jerry Seinfeld announces his namesake sitcom will end in the spring

Seinfeld taught us we’re all terrible people living meaningless lives. We miss it still.

24. 2002 // Katie Hnida becomes the first woman to play in a Division I college football game

The New Mexico University placekicker attempted an extra point against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, but it was blocked. There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

25. 2006 // James Brown dies

The "hardest working man in showbiz" finally got a break.

All images via Getty. This article originally ran in 2016.

10 Questions About Columbus Day

ihsanGercelman/iStock via Getty Images
ihsanGercelman/iStock via Getty Images

Every American student learns that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed in the New World in 1492. Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr.'s poem "History of the U.S." has made it impossible to forget the date (although the couplet actually predates her birth), and many federal workers get a day off every October to recognize the explorer's arrival in the New World. You know the who and where, but here are 10 more answers to pressing questions about Columbus Day.

1. When did Christopher Columbus become a cultural icon?

By the early 1500s, other navigators like Amerigo Vespucci and Francisco Pizarro had become more popular and successful than Columbus had been with his off-course voyages. According to The New York Times, historians and writers in the latter part of the 16th century restored some of Columbus’s reputation with great words of praise for the explorer and his discoveries, with his fellow Italians proving particularly eager to celebrate his life in plays and poetry.

2. How did Christopher Columbus's popularity reach the United States?

Blame the British. As the American colonies formed an identity separate from their mainly English roots, colonists looked to figures like the "appointed of God" Columbus to symbolize their ideals. "By the time of the Revolution," writes John Noble Wilford, "Columbus had been transmuted into a national icon, a hero second only to Washington." Columbus's American legacy got another shot in the arm in 1828 when a biography (peppered with historical fiction) by Washington Irving transformed Columbus into an even more idealized figure who sought to "colonize and cultivate," not to strip the New World of its resources.

3. When was the first Columbus Day?

The first recorded celebration took place in 1792 in New York City, but the first holiday held in commemoration of the 1492 voyage coincided with its 400th anniversary in 1892. President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation in which he called Columbus a "pioneer of progress and enlightenment" and suggested that Americans "cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life."

If Harrison had had his way, though, the holiday would have been celebrated on October 21. He knew that Columbus landed under the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar we use today—making October 21 the correct date for anniversary celebrations.

4. Did anyone actually celebrate Columbus Day in the 19th century?

Italian Americans embraced Columbus as an important figure in their history and saw celebrating him as a way to "be accepted by the mainstream," the Chicago Tribune notes. The Knights of Columbus, an organization formed by Irish Catholic immigrants in 1882, chose the Catholic explorer as their patron "as a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith," according to the group's website. Following President Harrison’s 1892 proclamation, they lobbied for Columbus Day to become an official holiday.

5. When did Columbus Day become an official holiday?

The holiday first found traction at the state level. Colorado began celebrating Columbus Day, by governor's proclamation, in 1905. Angelo Noce, founder of the first Italian newspaper in the state, spearheaded the movement to honor Columbus and Italian American history. In 1907, the Colorado General Assembly finally gave in to him and made it an official state holiday.

6. When did Columbus Day become a federal holiday?

With Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, lobbying from the Knights of Columbus paid off, and the United States as a whole observed Columbus Day in 1934. Thirty-four years later, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Holiday Bill, which designated Columbus Day as a federal holiday.

7. Why does the date of Columbus Day change every year?

Columbus Day was originally celebrated on October 12, the day Columbus landed in the New World, but the Uniform Holiday Bill took effect in 1971 and changed it to the second Monday in October, as well as moved the dates of Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day to Mondays (Veterans Day would be moved back to November 11 in 1980 after criticism from veterans’ groups). The act of Congress was enacted to "provide for uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Monday, and for other purposes."

8. Does every state observe the Columbus Day holiday on the same weekend?

In Tennessee, Columbus Day comes with an asterisk. The state’s official holiday observance calendar reads that Columbus Day is the second Monday of October, or "at the governor's discretion, Columbus Day may be observed the Friday after Thanksgiving."

9. Which states don't celebrate Columbus Day?

In Hawaii, the second Monday of October is known as Discoverer’s Day, "in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands, provided that this day is not and shall not be construed to be a state holiday," KHON2 writes. According to the Pew Research Center, only 21 states treated Columbus Day as a paid state holiday in 2013. South Dakota, New Mexico, Maine, and the District of Columbia celebrate Native Americans Day or Indigenous People's Day as a paid holiday. Several cities, like San Francisco and Cincinnati, celebrate Indigenous People's Day.

10. How do other places around the world celebrate Columbus Day?

In Italy, Columbus Day (or Giornata nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo) is listed as one of the national or international days of celebration and is still on October 12, but it's not a public holiday. Some countries have chosen to observe anti-Columbus holidays like the Day of the Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela and Nicaragua, Pan American Day in Belize, and the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity in Argentina.

The Hallmark Channel’s First-Ever ‘Christmas Con’ Is Comin’ to Town

macniak/iStock via Getty Images
macniak/iStock via Getty Images

Bookworms have Book Con, comic lovers have Comic Con, and now, courtesy of the Hallmark Channel, Christmas fanatics will finally get the gift they’ve surely written to Santa about more than a few times: Christmas Con.

News 12 New Jersey reports that the festive convention will take place at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison from November 8 through November 10.

If you binge-watch Hallmark Channel’s schmaltzy feel-good flicks faster than St. Nick scarfs down a giant gingerbread cookie, this is your chance to catch its biggest stars in one decked-out hall. Mean Girls (2004) alum Jonathan Bennett will emcee the convention, The Walking Dead’s Alicia Witt will perform a concert, and panels will include guests like Chad Michael Murray, Melissa Joan Hart, and Bennett’s former Mean Girls co-star Lacey Chabert (who will hopefully be showered with enough candy canes to make up for the time that her character, Gretchen Weiners, got none).

In addition to its celebrity events, Christmas Con will also include a Christmas market with gifts, handmade decorations, and holiday treats. You can also don your most lurid holiday sweater for a chance to win a $500 grand prize in the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, or bake a gingerbread house fit for a prince in the Gingerbread Wars, which could win you $1000.

If you're hoping to attend, you might have to hunt for resale tickets on social media or third-party sites—the passes are already almost sold out on the official website. If you’re willing to shell out a little extra for a snapshot with romance royalty, most of the stars are offering photo opportunities for around $50.

Looking for a less intense way to welcome the holly, jolly holiday season? Watch the 20 best Christmas movies, Die Hard (1988) and all.

[h/t News 12 New Jersey]

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