Everyone knows that Christmas Day is all about tearing up gifts, spending time with loved ones, gorging on good food, and celebrating the holiday spirit in general. Even though most of us have already started the holidays, some people might not be aware of some of the unusual and historic events marking Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in the past. A few of these notable episodes are vacation related, while others have nothing to do with Christmas. So put the eggnog and gingerbread cookies aside for a moment and come back with us to some of the strangest and most significant historical events that happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 1. On Christmas Day 1990, the Internet Gets Its First Try It is hard to imagine that the Internet has not existed since the dawn of time, but it has not. The internet was actually first tested in 1990 on Christmas Day. It was a special moment, in fact, when info.cern.ch, the first web server on the planet, was operational. It makes sense that the wizards of technology working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) were among the men and women behind the creation of this modern wonder (special thanks to Tim Berners-Lee) , although most of us now take the Internet for granted. 2. Washington Crosses the Delaware River in 1776 General George Washington crossed the Delaware River on the evening of December 25, 1776. Any schoolchildren in the area probably know why he made his famous Revolutionary War crossing when he did. Washington wanted to surprise the Hessian mercenaries (employed by the British army) by surprise, in the middle of their holiday season. He did. The general crushes the enemy and captures both many weapons and prisoners. Washington and his men scored an exceptional Christmas victory, which has gone down in the American history books. 3. The World War I Christmas Truce Soccer Games One of the most amazing and bizarre things to happen on Christmas Day happened amidst the blood and carnage of the war of the trenches so common in WWI battlefields. For several days during the holiday celebrations, temporary ceasefires broke out between British and German forces serving along the Western Front. Even though these men had only slaughtered themselves days or even hours before, some of them ventured through enemy lines and brought Christmas presents with them. Groups of soldiers even sang Christmas carols with their enemies and played a few games of football. War can often be brutal and strange, but somehow interspersed with acts of kindness. 4. USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 Before the United States put forces on the ground in Afghanistan (America’s longest war), the Soviet Union first waged a war in the country. . On December 24 and 25, 1979, the USSR began to deploy military equipment and personnel to the unstable region. The Russians and their allies chose this time of year to enter the country because the rest of the world was busy celebrating Christmas, which delayed diplomatic responses from Western powers to the military incursion. 5. Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day Sir Isaac Newton, the brilliant English scientist who first identified what gravity really was, was born on Christmas Day in 1642 (according to the calendar used at the time). In addition to his famous “discovery” of gravitational forces, he was also a pioneering mathematician and researcher in the field of optics. His contributions to humanity through science and philosophy cannot be overstated. The birth of this amazing man could even be considered a Christmas present for mankind. He was so important. 6. Charlie Chaplin Has Died Charlie Chaplin, one of the most famous comic actors to ever live, died in 1977 on Christmas Day. The beloved movie icon has passed away in her sleep at the age of 88. Charlie was a pioneering actor and director in the silent movie era. He was known for his classic movie gems like “Kid Auto Races At Venice” (1914), “The Tramp” (1915), “The Great Dictator” (1940) and many more. Chaplin was a genius of physical comedy, who, at the height of his fame, was beloved around the world. 7. Apollo 8 reaches orbit of the moon On Christmas Eve 1968, the US manned space mission, Apollo 8, reached orbit of the moon. Apollo 8 was the first piloted spacecraft of any kind to break free from Earth’s orbit and then revolve around another celestial body. In honor of this historic event, the astronauts aboard the ship sent a live Christmas Eve special, featuring images of the Earth and the moon, as well as readings from the Book of Genesis. 8. Mikhail Gorbachev Resigns As Soviet President Long before Al Qaeda was ever on the villain radar, the Soviet Union (now divided into Russia and other republics) was seen as the most formidable enemy from America. Everything changed at the end of the 1980s, with the policy of opening up Glasnost. The glasnost led to more freedom and the eventual disintegration of the Soviet Union. With the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the USSR and chief architect of Glasnost, the trend has become irreversible. Mikhail stepped down from his post on December 25, 1991. His political legacy forever changed the balance of world power. 9. The song “Silent Night” is played for the first time in public “Silent Night” is a traditional Christmas carol that has been sung during the Christmas season for almost 200 years now. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, evocative of the deep meanings of modern Christmas consumerism. The Christmas carol, known as “Stille Nacht!” Heilige Nacht ‘in German, was first performed in the Austrian village of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve in 1818, during a midnight mass in St. Nicholas Church. From that special moment, this charming Christmas carol was carved into the soul of Christmas. 10. President Andrew Johnson Pardons All Confederate Soldiers The Civil War was a bloody affair. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians lost their lives in this epic struggle. When peace finally came, there was a lot of debate about wartime reparations, rebuilding the South, and what to do with Confederate soldiers. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson decided to pardon most of the Confederate soldiers who requested amnesty. Towards the end of his term, the president went even further. On December 25, 1868, he pardoned every Confederate military participant, helping to heal a deeply wounded nation.