Christmas in History

Lily Botelho

Christmas Day has long been considered one of the most important days of the year in the western world. Because of this significance, many drastically important historical events were specifically planned to happen on December 25th. From 800 A.D to 1991, here are five of the most important historical events to come to fruition in Christmas.

  • 800 A.D. Charlemagne is crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor


Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks in 768 and was a strong leader of this empire. During his reign, Charlemagne united the most  of Western and Central Europe that had been united since the fall of the Roman Empire. This led Pope Leo III to call Charlemagne down to Rome on Christmas Day where he crowned him the next Holy Roman Emperor. Because of his many accomplishments, Charlemagne is now often known as the “Father of Europe”. 

  • 1066 – William the Conqueror is crowned the King of England


William the Conqueror was born French as the Duke of Normandy. During his life he led the Norman invasion of England, overthrowing the previous Anglo-Saxon ruler, Harold II. This conquest changed the course of English history, the effects of which are still seen today as all English Monarchs are directly descended from William the Conqueror. William’s official coronation as the King of England took place on Christmas Day of 1066. 

  • 1776 – George Washington crosses the Delaware River 


During the Revolutionary War, the American troops lost many battles and were beginning to lose moral as the winter dragged on. On December 25th, however, George Washington led 24,000 troops across the Delaware River into the enemy-controlled city of Trenton. Although they were not able to hold the city for a long time, Washington’s troops took control of the Trenton from the enemy, raising morale for all the American troops. 

  • 1968 – Apollo 8 orbits the moon 


Apollo 8 brought three astronauts, Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Frank Borman around the moon 10 times before safely returning them to earth. This space mission paved the way for the moon landing which took place with Apollo 11 only 7 months later. 

  • 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as the leader of the Soviet Union


Fours days prior on December 21st, Russia voted to dissolve the USSR and form the Commonwealth of Independent States. This change left Gorbachev with almost no power leading him to announce his resignation. Gorbachev’s resignation marked the end of the Cold War which had been raging between the USSR and the United States since 1947.