December 25: Not Just Jolly

The fact that December 25 is Christmas shouldn’t come as a shock (if it does: Surprise!) As with any other day of the year, a lot happens on the 25th of December: births, deaths, marriages, intrigue, revelations…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! So this year as you gather with your family, keep in mind that on this day there is quite a bit more happening than gift giving and cookies.

5) 1776 – Washington defeats 1,400 Hessian soldiers

The best part about Washington’s victorious crossing of the Delaware River was that it worked BECAUSE it was Christmas. America’s first president was well aware that the British-employed German troops would be drinking themselves silly and used their festivities against them, sneaking into town at night and beating them while they were too hungover to care. How’s that for Christmas cheer?

4) 1642 – Isaac Newton was born

Being born on Christmas comes with its own unique set of angsty issues (never having a bday-only party, gifts meant to “take care of both”, Christmas-themed bday cake, etc.), but luckily Newton never let it get him down. Gravity on the other hand…

3) 1932 – King George V’s chair collapses

Though there were hundreds of staff and supporters thoroughly committed to keeping the British Monarch safe from harm, no one correctly predicted the true threat: his chair. During the middle of a holiday dinner speech, George V’s seat gave way, depositing the thoroughly startled king onto the very posh floor.

2) 1492 – Christopher Columbus’ ship sinks

Yep. Poor Chris. On what should have been a pleasant morning of sailing off the coast of Hispaniola, the Santa Maria instead ran aground and sank. Feliz Navidad.

1) 1950 –The Stone of Scone/Coronation Stone is re-stolen back to Scotland

This rectangular block of stone has caused a lot of drama. Historically used in the coronation ceremonies for Scottish kings, the stone was kept at the ancient Scone Abbey until 1296 when pesky English king Edward I rode over and claimed it. The Stone was then taken to Westminster Abbey and kept there as part of the throne for the next 6 centuries. Keep in mind, this is a piece of sandstone for people to sit on. It isn’t even sparkly. Anyway…

All of this changed on Christmas day 1950, when 4 Scottish students stole the stone (breaking it in the process, oops!) and smuggled it back to Scotland. British detectives didn’t manage to locate it until a year later, and even though it was repaired and brought back to Westminster, the damage was done. In an attempt to repair frayed Scottish relations, the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland for good in 1996, owing to strong public opinion on the matter.

Who knew December 25th was so intense? So this year, be sure to remember all the various international hijinks happening around you. And maybe light a birthday candle for Isaac Newton. We’re sure he’ll appreciate it.