December 26th in History

The Beatles: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the United States, triggering the start of American Beatlemania

Today in History

  • The funeral of George Washington takes place, attended by 4000 people. Henry Lee III’s eulogy calls him “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen (1799)
  • The Decembrist uprising (Восстание декабристов) against Czar Nicholas I (Николай I) takes place (1825 [O.S. December 14])*
  • The trapped Donner Party resorts to cannibalism to survive (1846)
  • In the largest mass hanging in US history, 38 Dakota Sioux are executed in Mankato, Minnesota (1862)
  • The Curies announce the isolation of radium (1898)
  • Curse of the Bambino: Boston Red Sox player Babe Ruth is sold to the New York Yankees (1919)
  • Turkey adopts the Gregorian calendar (1925)
  • FDR signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day in the US (1941)
  • Battle of the Bulge: Elements of General George S. Patton’s Third Army break through the German encirclement of US forces at Bastogne (1944)
  • Cardinal Jósef Mindszenty is arrested and charged with treason and conspiracy (1948)
  • Beatlemania: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the US (1963)
  • The first Kwanzaa is celebrated (1966)
  • Vietnam War: 120 US B-52 Stratofortress bombers attack Hanoi in the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history (1972)
  • The Soviet Union is formally dissolved (1991)
  • Six-year old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey is found dead in the basement of her family’s home in Colorado (1996)

* O.S., or Old Style, refers to the fact that Russia did not convert from the “old style” Julian to the modern Gregorian calendar until 1918, so certain events and people are described using both dates.


  • Thomas Grey, English poet (1716)
  • Mary Somerville, Scottish polymath and science writer, jointly nominated with Caroline Herschel as the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society (1780)
  • Charles Babbage, computing pioneer (1791)
  • George Dewey, US Admiral, famously said “You may fire when ready, Gridley” at the Battle of Manila Bay (1837)
  • Charles Pathé, record producer (1863)
  • Maurice Utrillo, painter (1883)
  • Uncle Charlie Osborne, country fiddler (1890)
  • Henry Miller, author (1891)
  • 毛泽东 (Mao Zedong), founder and chairman of the People’s Republic of China (1893)
  • Albert Gore, Sr., US senator (1907)
  • Richard Widmark, actor (1914)
  • Steve Allen, entertainer (1921)
  • John Severin, comic book artist (1921)
  • Alan King, comedian (1927)
  • Phil Spector, music producer (1939)
  • Catherine Coulter, author (1942)
  • Gray Davis, California governor (1942)
  • John Walsh, creator of America’s Most Wanted (1945)
  • Carlton Fisk, baseball player (1947)
  • David Sedaris, author (1956)
  • Jared Leto, singer-songwriter (1971)


  • Babur, Mongolian emperor (1530)
  • Frederic Remington, painter (1909)
  • Melvil Dewey, librarian (1931)
  • Gorgeous George (George Wagner), wrestler (1963)
  • Harry S. Truman, 33rd US president (1972)
  • Jack Benny, comedian (1974)
  • Howard Hawks, director (1977)
  • Elsa Lanchester, actress (1986)
  • Curtis Mayfield, singer-songwriter (1999)
  • Jason Robards, actor (2000)
  • Reggie White, football player (2004)
  • Gerald Ford, 38th US president (2006)
  • Teena Marie, singer-songwriter (2010)

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Boxing Day (except when December 26 is a Sunday), (Commonwealth of Nations)
  • Day of Good Will (South Africa and Namibia)
  • Family Day (Vanuatu)
  • Father’s Day (Bulgaria)
  • Independence and Unity Day (Slovenia)
  • Junkanoo (first day; second day is on New Year’s Day) (Bahamas)
  • Kwanzaa begins (until January 1) (United States)
  • Mauro Hamza Day (Houston, Texas)
  • Mummer’s Day (Padstow, Cornwall)
  • St. Stephens Day (numerous European countries)
  • Thanksgiving (Solomon Islands)
  • Twelve Holy Days begin (Esoteric Christianity)
  • Wren Day (Ireland, Isle of Man)
Informal and made-up holidays include National Candy Cane Day, National Thank-You Note Day, and National Whiner’s Day.
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December 26 is the 360th day of the year (361st in leap years). There are 5 days remaining until the end of the year.