609 The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) receives his first revelation.
856 An earthquake near the Persian city of Damghan kills about 200 000 people.
1135 Stephen of Blois becomes King of England following the White Ship Disaster in which the heir to the throne drowns, and from which Stephen escapes. His reign is blighted by the Anarchy – a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda, whose son, Henry II, succeeds Stephen.
1882 The first string of Christmas tree lights is created by Thomas Edison.
1938 Marjorie Courtney-Latimer and Professor JLB Smith of Rhodes University identify the first coelacanth – a ‘living fossil’ thought to have become extinct 50 million years ago.
1944 During the Battle of the Bulge, German troops demand the surrender of US troops, prompting the famous laconic reply by General Anthony McAuliffe: ‘Nuts!’
1959 Imagine spending Christmas on the water, deep within what was then a remote river valley? Well, that’s just what the first 8 contestants of the inaugural Dusi Canoe Marathon did. They had agreed to race from Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg to Durban, beginning one of the most iconic canoe races in the world, but only one of them completed the arduous event. Ian Player arrived wet and bedraggled at the mouth of the Umgeni River 6 days later, on December 28, having survived two days of low water in the rivers, a flash flood and being bitten by a night adder.
1988 South Africa signs an accord granting independence to South-West Africa.
1989 Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.
2001 Richard ‘shoebomber’ Reid tries to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoes.
1999 Thomas Adolf Florin is found guilty in Windhoek of killing his wife, Monika, after she refused to return to Germany. He had beaten her to death with a hammer and boiled and baked her carved up body at their home while their two small children were in the house.
2018 A tsunami hits Indonesia’s Sunda Strait killing more than 400 people after part of the Anak Krakatau volcano slips into the sea. | The Historian