What’s in a date?

December 25th is a sacred day for all of Christianity. But what other things make the 359th (or 360th in leap years) a special day?  We know that the early powers of the church selected the date for the birth feast based on studies, and more likely a couple of Pagan god festivals that were that day.  We can trace the earliest official celebration of the birth of JEsus on 12/25 to the year 325.  Other key events have happened on December 25th as well.  Christmas is a big day for crowning and coronations with hundreds happening on that date over time.  Some are more notable than others- in the year 800 Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and in 1066 WIlliam the Conqueror was crowned King of England.  Christmas also was the date for many political and wartime actions.  Notable happenings include Washington’s crossing of the Delaware in 1776, President Johnson pardoning all Confederate soldiers in 1868, the Christmas Truce of World War I in 1914, British Hong Kong surrender to Japan in 1941, and the end of the Soviet Union with Gorbachev’s resignation in 1991.  Christmas Island was discovered in 1643 by the East India Company.  Another big first was the initial test run of what would become the World Wide Web.

Christmas is a special birthday for any of the millions who have shared that day of creation over time.  I’ll list some of the more interesting ones of note.  Isaac Newton was born on Christmas in 1642 and would be 370 this year.  Clara Barton died 100 years ago but was born on Christmas in 1821. Music well knows with a birthday on the 25th include bandmaster, Patrick Gilmore, in 1829, Cab Calloway in 1903, Jimmy Buffet in 1945, Barbara Mandrell in 1948, and Annie Lenox in 1954.  Hollywood famous with sharing the big day include Humphrey Bogart in 1889, Rod Serling in 1924 and Sissy Spacek in 1949.   Hotel magnate Conrad Hilton came into being in 1887 and believe it or not, Robert Ripley was born in 1890.  There are many who mark the anniversary of losing a family member or loved one on Christmas Day.  These include W.C. Fields in 1946, James Brown in 2006, and Eartha Kitt in 2008.  So if you have an extra minute on your Christmas day, try to work in a little of the many other marks of importance for that date.

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