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article imageIt happened today — December 25

By Alexander Baron     Dec 25, 2011 in Entertainment
We all know who was born on December 25, but a lot of other things have happened on that day throughout history: happy, tragic, and extraordinary.
Sir Isaac Newton - the greatest scientist of all time - was born December 25, 1642. (His date of birth is sometimes given as January 4, 1643; this is not a mistake, both dates are correct. In 1752, the calendar was changed, September 2 was followed by September 14).
Newton's achievements are unsurpassed in any era, and almost certainly will remain so. As well as formulating the laws of motion, he made substantial contributions to mathematics, optics and other fields.
Christmas Island was discovered by an East Indian Company ship on Christmas Day, 1643, although it was not settled until the late 19th Century.
Now governed by Australia, it has a very small population and is an off-beat tourist spot. With stunning wildlife both on land and in the surrounding waters, its outstanding feature is probably the annual red crab migration.
The American actor Humphrey Bogart was born on Christmas Day, 1899. Although he won an Oscar for the lead role (with Katharine Hepburn) in The African Queen, his finest performance was arguably as the paranoid ship's captain in The Caine Mutiny three years later.
One of the most remarkable events ever to happen on Christmas Day was the unofficial truce during the Great War, what we allude to as World War I.
Men who had only hours earlier been trying to kill each other met on the no man's land of the Western Front, shook hands and even played football.
Then they went back to their trenches and hostilities resumed, which begs the question, what were they or does anyone fight for?
Anwar Sadat was born December 25, 1918; as successor to Gamal Abdel Nasser he had a hard act to follow, but his tenure as President of Egypt from October 1970 earned him the Nobel Peace Prize - which he shared with former terrorist mass murderer Menachem Begin.
Sadat's reward for attempting to broker peace in the Middle East was his assassination on October 6, 1981, not by Zionists but by renegade officers of the Egyptian Army.
The American comedian and actor W.C. Fields died Christmas Day, 1946. Although he had other talents, he is best known as a somewhat crotchety, misanthropic character. The saying “Never give a sucker an even break” is generally attributed to Fields; it was also the title of one of his films.
Last year, the parents of Joanna Yeates received a Christmas present they will never forget when their daughter's body was found dumped in a country lane near her Bristol home. Landscape architect Miss Yeates vanished on December 17, 2010, and her disappearance gave her friends and family immediate cause for concern.
Aside from the unpleasant business of unnatural death, there was another unpleasant development in the case after her elderly landlord Chris Jefferies was arrested on suspicion of her murder. When retired schoolteacher Mr Jefferies was held and questioned for three days, the press put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5. They were to pay dearly for their folly; later, Mr Jefferies was one of many aggrieved parties to testify to the ongoing Leveson Inquiry.
We end on a surreal note; while Joanna Yeates was found murdered on Christmas Day last year, Mohammed Bellazrak was found alive.
The 72-year-old had got lost in the snow after dropping off his wife at Gatwick Airport, then spent three days driving around the M4 before he was rescued by the police.
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