While you were Opening your Presents, This Happen…

While you were Opening your Presents, This Happen… December 25, 2020

150 Posts ago, The Catholic Bard published its first post.

150 years ago, Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26,
1870 in a bill signed by President Ulysses S. Grant.


Not too long after that on…

July 18, 1870– Pastor aeternus (“First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ”), was issued by the First Vatican Council. The document defines four doctrines of the Catholic faith: the apostolic primacy conferred on Peter, the perpetuity of the Petrine Primacy in the Roman pontiffs, the meaning and power of the papal primacy, and Papal infallibility – infallible teaching authority (magisterium) of the Pope. Blessed Pius IX is the current pope when this happens.

And on…

October 20, 1870 – The First Vatican Council adjourns.

This is the year that Catholic author Hilaire Belloc was born on July 27, 1870 (d. 1953)

And The Man Who Invented Christmas Mr. Charles Dickens died on June 9, 1870 leaving his final novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Wikipedia

3 Musketeers creator Alexandre Dumas died during advent on December 5, 1870 (b. 1802)

while on December 18 – Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), English short story writer and dramatist was born. He was killed in action 1916.

Other great historical events that year included, On…

January 3, 1870 – Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge begins.

January 15, 1870 – A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the United States Democratic Party with a donkey (A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).

January 15th, 1870] A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the United States Democratic Party with a donkey ("A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" by Thomas Nast for "Harper's Weekly"). :

February 3,1870  – The 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing African American men the right to vote, is passed.

And early Sci-Fi author Jules Verne first published Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the Moon. It would be a few more years before you could buy a copy in English to put under the Christmas tree.

Now that we have looked at what happen 150 years ago, the year as we said Christmas became a federal holiday, lets shift focus to events that occurred on…

Christmas Eve


640 – Pope John IV is elected.

1294 – Pope Boniface VIII is elected, replacing St. Celestine V, who had resigned.
He was pope for five months from July 5 to 13 December 13, 1294, when he resigned. He was also a monk and hermit who founded the order of the Celestines as a branch of the Benedictine order.

He was elected pope in the Catholic Church’s last non-conclave papal election, ending a two-year impasse. Among the few edicts of his to remain in force was the confirmation of the right of the pope to abdicate; nearly all of his other official acts were annulled by his successor, Boniface VIII. On 13 December 1294, a week after issuing the decree, Celestine resigned, stating his desire to return to his humble, pre-papal life. He was subsequently imprisoned by Boniface in the castle of Fumone in the Lazio region, in order to prevent his potential installation as antipope. He died in prison on 19 May 1296 at the age of 81.

Celestine was canonized on 5 May 1313 by Pope Clement V. No subsequent pope has taken the name Celestine.

The next pope to resign of his own accord was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, 719 years later.

1777 – Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook.

Kiritimati - Wikipedia

1800 – The Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise fails to kill Napoleon Bonaparte.

1818 The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

1865 – Jonathan Shank and Barry Ownby form The Ku Klux Klan.

1870– During the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier leaped out of his foxhole in the midst of the battle and began singing the carol “O Holy Night.” He was soon joined by other Frenchmen, and all gunfire ceased. The Germans answered with a carol of their own, and for one day the battle stopped and men on both sides celebrated Christmas.
Ace Collins,  Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (Stories Behind Books)

1880 – Johnny Gruelle creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy is born. (d. 1939)

Raggedy Ann and Andy by Johnny Gruelle | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

1906 – Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast that included a phonograph record of Ombra mai fu (Largo) by George Frideric Handel, followed by Fessenden playing Adolphe Adam’s carol O Holy Night on the violin and singing Adore and be Still by Gounod, and closing with a biblical passage: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:14).

1913 – The Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan results in the deaths of 73 Christmas party participants (including 59 children) when someone falsely yells “fire”.

1914 – World War I: The “Christmas truce” begins.

1924 – Albania becomes a republic.

1927 – Catholic Mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark is born. (d. 2020)

The Christmas Collection: Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark by Mary Higgins Clark

1939 – World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.

As the Feast of Christmas recurs year by year the message of the crib of Bethlehem sounds in Christian ears with accents of a holy joy which is ever new and ever finds a tender echo in Christian hearts; it is the message of Jesus, light amidst the darkness. To a world plunged in the gloom of tragic error it brings the light of Heavenly truth; to a humanity enduring the pangs of a deep and bitter sorrow it gives abundance of joyful hope; to the children of Adam shackled in the bonds of sin it brings assurance of deliverance; to those countless hosts of suffering and afflicted ones who see their happiness lost and their energies broken in the storm of hatred and strife now raging, it gives promise of mercy, love, and peace.

And the bells which ring out this message in every continent do more than recall a Divine gift bestowed upon humanity at the beginning of the Christian era; they also proclaim a consoling and present reality, a reality as eternally young as it is ever vital and life-giving: the reality of the true light which enlightens every man that comes into this world, the light which will never fade.

1968 – Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.

1973 – District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.

1973 – Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer is born.

“Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. …And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything.”
― Stephenie Meyer, New Moon

1979 USSR Invades Afghanistan.

1980 – Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called “Britain’s Roswell“.

Now that we have looked at what happen The Night Before Christmas let’s look at the day of day’s itself, the Day before the Feast of St. Stephen  and also Boxing Day. 

While you were opening your presents under the Christmas Tree, and Santa was finishing up his rounds. and families were going to Christmas Day religious services…

This happen on Christmas Day…

And we start in…

1492 – The carrack Santa María, commanded by Christopher Columbus, runs onto a reef off Haiti due to an improper watch.

Santa Maria (15th century) - 3D scene - Mozaik Digital Education and Learning

1559 – Pope Pius IV is elected.

1621– Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony (now in Massachusetts) forbids game playing on Christmas.

1642 Sir Isaac Newton is born.

1717 – Pope Pius VI is born (d. 1799)

1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley’s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.

1775– Pope Pius VI promulgates the Encyclical INSCRUTABILE (On The Problems Of The Pontificate)

For the same reason you should undoubtedly always give special attention to the beauty of the house of God and the splendor and dignity of objects dedicated to the divine service. Such beauty and splendor often greatly inspire the faithful, and draw them to the veneration of sacred realities. It would be very improper for the bishop’s house to be cleaner and furnished more tastefully than the abode of holiness, the palace of the living God. It would make no sense to see holy vestments, adornments for the altar and all the furniture in the church worn out with age and torn or dirty, while the bishop’s table is well laden, the priest’s clothing very clean and finely coordinated

1776 – George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.

Crossing of the Delaware · George Washington's Mount Vernon

1809 – Dr. Ephraim McDowell performs the first ovariotomy, removing a 22-pound tumor.

1814 – Rev. Samuel Marsden holds the first Christian service on land in New Zealand at Rangihoua Bay.

1818 Handel’s Messiah, premieres in the US in Boston.

1821 – Clara Barton, American nurse and humanitarian, founder of the American Red Cross is born (d. 1912)

Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse, Red Cross Founder

1831 – The Great Jamaican Slave Revolt begins; up to 20% of Jamaica’s slaves mobilize in an ultimately unsuccessful fight for freedom.

1831 Louisiana & Arkansas are first states to observe Christmas as holiday.

1862 40,000 watch Union army men play baseball at Hilton Head, South Carolina

1868 – Pardons for ex-Confederates: United States President Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to all Confederate veterans.

1890 – Robert Ripley, American anthropologist and publisher (d. 1949)

1. The United States first issued a Christmas postage stamp in 1962! 2. Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," wrote the first imagery describing St. Nicholas flying in his sleigh! 3. Believe It or Not!, Santa Claus was given an official pilots license in 1927!

1899 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (d. 1957)

Humphrey Bogart - Wikipedia

1902 Pope Leo XIII, at his annual Christmas reception, endorses the Christian Democratic movement now emerging in Europe as an attempt to offer an alternative to more radical movements

1914 – A series of unofficial truces occur across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.

1924 – Rod Serling, American screenwriter and producer, who created The Twilight Zone is born. (d. 1975)

A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas, and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek, and a merry Christmas to each and all.
Rod Serling

1938 George Cukor announces Vivien Leigh will play Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”

1941 – World War II: Battle of Hong Kong ends, beginning the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.

1946 – Jimmy Buffett, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor.

1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880)

Christmas Day (2) | BOOK OF DAYS TALES

1955 Pope Pius XII writes MUSICAE SACRAE an encyclical on sacred music & popular music.

 Music is among the many and great gifts of nature with which God, in Whom is the harmony of the most perfect concord and the most perfect order, has enriched men, whom He has created in His image and likeness. Together with the other liberal arts, music contributes to spiritual joy and the delight of the soul.

On this subject St. Augustine has accurately written: “Music, that is the science or the sense of proper modulation, is likewise given by God’s generosity to mortals having rational souls in order to lead them to higher things.”

1957 Richard Starkey (later better known as Ringo Starr) receives his first drum set.

1962 USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR.

1962 “To Kill a Mockingbird”, a film adaptation of the novel by Harper Lee, directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck, is released (Gregory Peck – Best Actor Academy Awards 1963)

1963 Walt Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone” is released.

1964 George Harrison’s girlfriend Patti Boyd attacked by female Beatle fans.

1967 Singer Paul McCartney & actress Jane Asher get engaged.

1968 Frank Borman’s Christmas reading while orbiting the Moon.

1971 The Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Divisional Game which the Dolphins won, 27-24, in double overtime after 82 minutes and 40 seconds of play.  Over four decades later, that game remains the longest NFL game ever played.

1977 – Silent slapstick king of comedy Charlie Chaplin dies. (b. 1889)

Christmas Charlie Chaplin Films Vacation : Programata : Festivals :

1983 1st live telecast of Christmas Parade at the EPCOT Centre, Disney World Florida.

1988- Terrorists take over  Nakatomi Plaza but are therted by undercover cop John McClane.

1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is
dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalized and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.

1992–  Chaplin starring Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. premiers.

1995 – Dean Martin, American singer and actor dies. (b. 1917) He was born in Steubenville Ohio, home of Franciscan University.

1996 1,500-year anniversary of Catholicism in France commemorating the baptism of Clovis I in Rheims.

1997 For 1st time US movie box office receipts pass $6 billion.

1999 Opening of doors of St. John Lateran by Pope John Paul II.

2003 The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe which was released from the Mars Express Spacecraft on December 19, disappears shortly before its scheduled landing.

2006 – James Brown, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933).

2008– The Tom Cruise film Valkyrie premieres. It is about a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

2020- Due to the closure of most cinemas, Wonder Woman 1984 premieres on HBO Max and Pixar’s Soul on Disney +.

A suicide bomber detonated a recreational vehicle (RV) bomb in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, United States, injuring eight people and damaging dozens of buildings. It took place at 166 Second Avenue North between Church Street and Commerce Street at 6:30 am, adjacent to an AT&T network hub, resulting in days-long communication service outages.

People near the RV heard gunshots, and loudspeakers on the RV warned them to evacuate before the explosion, which was felt miles away. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) determined the bomber was 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner, a Nashville resident believed to have acted alone.

Last Minute Christmas Movie Recommendations 

Everybody watches ‘It’s A Wonderful LIfe’, every year with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, but often overlooked is

The Bishops Wife (1947) with Cary Grant as an angel… and Loretta Young and David Niven.

The Bishop's Wife - Wikipedia

Santa comes in all shapes and sizes, and maybe you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to JOlly Ol St. Nick.

How about a family comedy that has an ex-con trying to spring Santa from jail? This film has one of the best take off sequences of Santa and his reindeer in Santa film history. It shows Santa acknowledging that life is hard and challenging and gives a very good portrait of caring father’s towards their son.

Get Santa (2014)

Amazon.com: Get Santa [DVD + Digital]: Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kit Connor, Ewen Bremner, Warwick Davis, Stephen Graham, Joanna Scanlan, Christopher Smith: Movies & TV

Then there are these modern classic gems about the inner working lives of Santa’s elves and what they do for him on Christmas Eve.

Prep and Landing (2009/2011)

Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice DVD | shopDisney

I haven’t seen this yet, but a movie about a child who hires a hit man to kill Santa because he got coal in his stocking. Santa also works for the military and Santa also known in this film as Fat Man (2020) is played by Mel Gibson.

See the source image

Everwonder how Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol? The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) lets you in on the creative process of how it happen.

The Man Who Invented Christmas | Kanopy

There is the subtile magic of the Christmas drama  The Christmas Candle (2013) based on the book by popular Christmas author Max Lucado. The movie actually starts in and acknowledges  Advent.

The Christmas Candle film poster.jpg

And the true life drama of the Christmas Truce of 1914 during WW1 Joyeux Noel (2005)

See the source image

and finally, want to learn about the Nativity? Join Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers Live as he explains the History of the Nativity...

What's that lying in the manger? – Living on Jesus Street

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