December 22nd in History

General Anthony McAuliffe (left) and Col. Harry W. O. Kinnard II at Bastogne.

Today in History

  • Ludwig van Beethoven conducts and performs the premier of his Fifth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself), and Choral Fantasy (Beethoven at the piano) at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna (1808)
  • Savannah, Georgia, falls to General William Tecumseh Sherman, concluding his “March to the Sea” (1864)
  • Dreyfus Affair: Alfred Dreyfus is wrongly convicted of treason (1894)
  • New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel opens to traffic (1937)
  • Battle of the Bulge: General Anthony McAuliffe replies to a German surrender demand at Bastogne with the single word, “Nuts!” (1944)
  • The SR-71 Blackbird makes its first test flight (1964)
  • On the New York subway system, Bernard Goetz shoots four African-Americans who allegedly tried to mug him (1984)
  • Nicolae Ceaușescu is overthrown as president of Romania (1989)
  • Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate reopens, effectively ending the separation of East and West Germany (1989)
  • Richard Reid attempts to destroy a passenger plane with explosives hidden in his shoes (2008)
  • The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning open homosexuality in the US military is signed into law (2010)


  • Diocletian, emperor of Rome (244)
  • Jean Racine, poet and playwright (1639)
  • Connie Mack, baseball player and manager (1862)
  • Edward Arlington Robinson, poet and playwright (1869)
  • Edgard Varèse, composer (1883)
  • Andre Kostelanetz, conductor and composer (1901)
  • Kenneth Rexroth, poet (1905)
  • Dame Peggy Ashcroft, actress (1907)
  • Lady Bird Johnson, first lady (1912)
  • Barbara Billingsley, actress (1915)
  • Gene Rayburn, game show host (1917)
  • Héctor Elizondo, actor (1936)
  • Paul Wolfowitz, politician 91943)
  • Diane Sawyer, journalist (1945)
  • Steve Garvey, baseball player (1948)
  • Maurice and Robin Gibb, musicians (1949)
  • Charles de Lint, fantasy author (1951)
  • Ralph Fiennes, actor (1962)


  • Vitellius, emperor of Rome (69)
  • George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), writer (1880)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck, filmmaker (1979)
  • Samuel Beckett, playwright and Nobel laureate (1989)
  • Butterfly McQueen, actress (1995)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Armed Forces Day (Vietnam)
  • 冬至 (Dōngzhì Festival) (China and other East Asian nations)
  • Mother’s Day (Indonesia)
  • National Mathematics Day (India)
  • Unity Day (Zimbabwe)
Informal and made-up holidays include National Date Nut Bread Day and National Haiku Poetry Day.

• • •

December 22 is the 356th day of the year (357th in leap years). There are 9 days remaining until the end of the year.