1166 John (born), King of England (died 1216)
1508 Pietro Carnesecchi (born), Italian humanist (died 1567)
1660 Mary (died), Princess Royal and Princess of Orange (born 1631)
1777 Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook.
1809 Kit Carson (born), American soldier (died 1868)
1814 The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812.
1818 The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
1851 Library of Congress burns.
1865 The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, by six veterans of the Confederate Army.
1871 Aida opens in Cairo, Egypt.
1873 Johns Hopkins (died), American businessman and philanthropist (born 1795)
1894 Jack Thayer (born), American survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (died 1945)
1905 Howard Hughes (born), American engineer and director (died 1976)
1911 Lackawanna Cut-Off railway line opens in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
1943 World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the Supreme Allied Commander.
1955 NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.
1967 Burt Baskin (died), American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (born 1913)
1968 The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.
1969 Charles Manson is allowed to defend himself at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial.
1973 District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.
1993 Norman Vincent Peale (died), American minister and author (born 1898)