1754 George Crabbe, British poet and naturalist, was born (d. 1832).
1777 Kiritimati, (Christmas Island) was discovered by James Cook.
1814 The Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the War of 1812.
1822 Matthew Arnold, British poet, was born (d. 1888).
1865 Several U.S. Civil War Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan.
1880 Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, children’s book writer and creator of Raggedy Ann was born (d. 1938).
1893 Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (Chattanooga Choo Choo – I Only Have Eyes for You), was born (d. 1981).
1905 Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor, was born (d. 1976).
1906 Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.
1914 World War I: The “Christmas truce” began.1922 Ava Gardner, American actress, was born (d. 1990).1923 George Patton IV, American general, was born (d. 2004).
1924 Albania became a republic.
1927 Mary Higgins Clark, American author, was born.
1941 World War II: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese Imperial Army.
1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander.
1946 France’s Fourth Republic was founded.
1948 Frank Oliver, New Zealand rugby player, was born.
1951 Libya became independent from Italy. Idris I was proclaimed King.
1953 Tangiwai railway disaster – The worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River, just west of Tangiwai in the central North Island. The accident happened after arailway bridge was destroyed by a lahar.
1955 NORAD Tracked Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.
1957 Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.
1961 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was born.
1968 The crew of Apollo 8 entered 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– Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, was born.
1974 Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.
1979 – The first European Ariane rocket was launched.
1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria killed 50-100 people.
2000 – The Texas 7 held up a sports store in Irving, Texas, Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered during the robbery.
2003 – Spanish police thwarted an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s Chamartín Station.
2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declared a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.
2008 – Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.