These are some of the widely recognized historic events that occurred during the month of December, listed by year. Dates provided for events that occurred before the Common Era (BCE) may be approximate.
609 BCE, December 25 - The first recorded solar eclipse in ancient Babylonia, which marked the beginning of systematic astronomical observations.
399 BCE, December 5 - The Greek philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by drinking hemlock, following his trial in Athens.
333 BCE, December 1 - Alexander the Great decisively defeats the Persian king Darius III at the Battle of Issus, solidifying his control over Asia Minor.
218 BCE, December 2 - Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, wins a significant victory over the Roman Republic at the Battle of the Trebia during the Second Punic War.
121 BCE, December 15 - Gaius Gracchus, a Roman politician and reformer, is born. He would later become known for his attempts to enact land and citizenship reforms.
106 BCE, December 18 - The birth of Cicero, one of Rome's most famous orators, statesmen, and philosophers.
70 BCE, December 25 - The siege of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus ends with the destruction of the Second Temple.
68 BCE, December 7 - The birth of the Roman poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), known for his Odes and Satires.
65 BCE, December 8 - The birth of the Roman historian and author of "The History of Rome," Livy (Titus Livius).
45 BCE, December 31 - The Julian calendar is introduced by Julius Caesar, with January 1, 45 BCE, as its first day.
43 BCE, December 20 - The establishment of the Second Triumvirate in Rome, comprising Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus, to avenge Caesar's assassination.
43 BCE, December 23 - Gaius Oppius, a close friend and advisor to Julius Caesar, is born.
40 BCE, December 2 - The Treaty of Brundisium is signed, temporarily ending the Roman civil wars between Octavian and Antony.
40 BCE, December 15 - The birth of the Roman poet and philosopher, Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca).
21 BCE, December 30 - The Roman poet and author of the "Metamorphoses," Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), is born.
17 BCE, December 25 - The Roman emperor Augustus celebrates the Ludi Saeculares, a secular games event, marking the end of a saeculum (a generation) and the beginning of a new one.
6 BCE, December 27 - The Roman emperor Augustus officially adopts his stepson and heir, Tiberius, as his son.
4 BCE, December 25 - The traditionally celebrated birth of Jesus Christ, though the exact date remains a subject of debate among scholars.
3 BCE, December 25 - Herod the Great dies, according to some estimates, around this date. Herod is known for his role in the Nativity story.
1 CE, December 20 - The Roman Emperor Vespasian captures the city of Jerusalem, effectively ending the First Jewish-Roman War.
37 CE, December 20 - Roman Emperor Nero is born, eventually becoming known for his tyrannical rule and the Great Fire of Rome.
45 CE, December 3 - Roman Emperor Augustus celebrates the Ludi Saeculares, a secular games event, marking the end of a saeculum (a generation) and the beginning of a new one.
104 CE, December 30 - The death of Trajan, one of Rome's greatest emperors, and the accession of his successor, Hadrian.
352 CE, December 25 - Pope Julius I officially establishes December 25 as the date of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, now known as Christmas.
357 CE, December 25 - Roman Emperor Constantius II decrees that the pagan festival of Sol Invictus coincides with Christmas, promoting Christianity.
540 CE, December 27 - The death of Chrysaphius, a eunuch advisor to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who played a controversial role in the court.
546 CE, December 27 - The Gothic War, fought between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths, sees a significant battle at Taginae, resulting in a Byzantine victory.
564 CE, December 20 - Saint Columba, an Irish missionary, dies, leaving a lasting legacy in spreading Christianity in Scotland.
674 CE, December 3 - The beginning of the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, an iconic Islamic shrine.
771 CE, December 25 - Charlemagne becomes the King of the Franks after the death of his brother Carloman I.
820 CE, December 24 - The Byzantine Empire defeats the forces of the Abbasid Caliphate at the Battle of Mehmetçik, marking a significant victory in the Byzantine-Arab Wars.
827 CE, December 20 - The Muslim scholar and polymath Al-Khwarizmi is born, known for his contributions to algebra and mathematics.
875 CE, December 21 - The Treaty of Verdun is signed, dividing the Carolingian Empire into three parts, marking the beginning of the Carolingian dissolution.
884 CE, December 25 - The Danelaw, a region of England under Viking control, sees a series of treaties between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons.
910 CE, December 13 - The Buddhist monk Fadeng begins a journey to India, which would later contribute to Chinese Buddhist scholarship.
955 CE, December 6 - Otto I, King of Germany, defeats the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld, halting their invasion of Western Europe.
963 CE, December 15 - Emperor Otto I of the Holy Roman Empire dies, and he is succeeded by his son Otto II.
990 CE, December 16 - The Byzantine emperor Basil II wins a decisive victory against the Bulgarians at the Battle of Spercheios.
999 CE, December 31 - Pope Sylvester II dies, marking the end of his papacy, during which he contributed to the advancement of science and mathematics in Europe.
999 CE, December 31 - The coronation of Stephen I as the first Christian king of Hungary, a significant event in the Christianization of the Hungarian people.
1000, December 25 - The coronation of Stephen I as the first Christian king of Hungary, marking the establishment of the Kingdom of Hungary and Hungary's conversion to Christianity.
1002, December 29 - King Æthelred the Unready orders the St. Brice's Day massacre, leading to the killing of many Danish settlers in England.
1006. December - The supernova SN 1006, one of the brightest stellar events recorded, appears in the southern skies after appearing earlier in the year in the north. Now we know that is a remnant of a so-called Type Ia supernova. This class of supernova is caused when a white dwarf pulls too much mass from a companion star and explodes, or when two white dwarfs merge and explode. In this case, the star whose death brightened the early medieval sky was 7200 light years away. That means the supernova really happened about 8.200 years ago, but it took until 1006 for the light of the cosmic explosion to reach Earth. More
1013, December 25 - Sweyn Forkbeard is proclaimed King of England after the English nobility submits to him. Sweyn had built a strong an imposing Danish North Sea empire, establishing control in Norway in 1000 and conquering England in 1013. He died there on February 1014, having ruled England for only five weeks. Sweyn's cause of death is unknown.
1025, December 24 - The Byzantine Emperor Basil II dies, marking the end of the Macedonian Dynasty
1066, December 25 - William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, following the Norman conquest.
1135, December 1 - The death of King Henry I of England, leading to a period of civil war known as "The Anarchy."
1147, December 24 - The start of the Second Crusade, as European forces begin their journey to the Holy Land.
1154, December 19 - Henry II of England is crowned as king, beginning the Angevin Empire.
1170, December 29 - The murder of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral.
1214, December 27 - The University of Oxford receives its royal charter from King Henry III of England.
1257, December 9 - The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending a conflict between King Louis IX of France and King Henry III of England.
1271, December 24 - Kublai Khan issues a decree that allows Marco Polo to become an emissary of the Mongol Empire.
1287, December 14 - A heavy storm over the North Sea generated surging waves that collapsed a thin land barrier, flooding the Zuiderzee inlet and causing more than 50,000 casualties. The flood, called the St. Lucia flood, has been rated as one of the most destructive floods in recorded history. The event also created direct sea access for the village of Amsterdam, allowing its development into a major port city.
1294, December 18 - Pope Celestine V abdicates the papacy, becoming one of the few popes to voluntarily resign.
1305, December 5 - Pope Clement V moves the papal residence to Avignon, beginning the Avignon Papacy.
1392, December 18 - The Joseon Dynasty in Korea repels the Japanese invasion during the Battle of Wihwa Island.
1398, December 17 - Tamerlane (Timur) captures and sacks Delhi, leading to the massacre of its inhabitants.
1408, December 28 - The Council of Oxford condemns the teachings of John Wycliffe, a precursor to the Protestant Reformation.
1431, December 16 - Henry VI of England is crowned King of France in Paris, marking a significant moment in the Hundred Years' War.
1431, December 23 - Joan of Arc is captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English, leading to her trial and execution.
1455, December 30 - The Battle of Castillon marks the end of the Hundred Years' War between England and France.
1470, December 29 - The Battle of Wakefield takes place during the Wars of the Roses in England, resulting in a Lancastrian victory.
1492, December 6 - Christopher Columbus reaches the island of Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) during his first voyage to the Americas.
1497, December 19 - John Cabot, an Italian explorer sailing under the English flag, reaches the coast of what is now North America, likely Canada.
1524, December 24 - Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama passes away in India during his second voyage to the East.
1531, December 9 - Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most important religious icons in Mexico, is believed to have appeared to Juan Diego.
1620, December 21 - The Mayflower Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, establishing the Plymouth Colony.
1639, December 4 - The first documented recorded observation of a transit of Venus across the Sun is made by the English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks from his home at Carr House in Much Hoole, near Preston in England.
1688, December 11 - The Glorious Revolution in England sees William of Orange and Mary II take the throne from James II.
1777, December 31 - The British suffer heavy losses in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolutionary War.
1790, December 15 - The United States Congress relocates to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from New York City.
1799, December 10 - The French revolutionary government declares the metric system to be the official system of weights and measures.
1803, December 20 - The United States officially takes possession of the Louisiana Territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase.
1814, December 24 - The Treaty of Ghent is signed, officially ending the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom.
1831, December 2 - Former U.S. President John Quincy Adams takes his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the only former president to do so.
1843, December 19 - Charles Dickens' classic novella "A Christmas Carol" is first published in London.
1865, December 6 - The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1877, December 6 - Thomas Edison successfully demonstrates the phonograph for the first time. Edison filed for a patent for the phonograph on December 24, 1877 and the patent was issued on February 19, 1878. The original phonograph was invented and patented by Edouard-Leon Scott in 1857. He called his device the phonautograph . His invention made a recording of sound waves on a glass plate, but it was not able to play back the sounds. More
1890, December 29 - The Wounded Knee Massacre, also known as the Battle of Wounded Knee. Nearly three hundred Lakota people are massacred by soldiers of the United States Army.
1894, December 29 - French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is convicted of treason in a highly controversial trial, sparking the Dreyfus Affair.
1903, December 17 - The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, make their first powered, controlled, and sustained flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. More
1913, December 1 - The world's first moving assembly line debuted, at the Ford Model T car factory in Highland Park, Michigan. The innovation spearheaded by Henry Ford, revolutionized the auto industry. More
1917, December 6 - Finland declares independence from Russia, leading to the Finnish Civil War.
1932, December 5 - German physicist Albert Einstein is granted a visa to enter the United States, fleeing Nazi Germany.
1941, December 7 - The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Empire leads to the United States' entry into World War II.
1941, December 26 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday. This ended the confusion that had taken place since 1939 when FDR had changed the official Thanksgiving to the second Thursday of the month since there were five Thursdays and the last Thursday of the month was the last day of the month and there was a worry that it would shorten the Christmas shopping season. The result was that only 32 states issued similar proclamations while 16 states refused to accept the change creating confusion. More
1945, December 9 - The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is established. More
1954, December 2 - Censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy - The U.S. Senate votes to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had led the fight in Congress to root out suspected Communists from the Federal Government. The censure described his behavior as "contrary to senatorial traditions". Senator Joseph R. McCarthy had been a little-known junior senator from Wisconsin until February 1950 when he claimed to have a list of 205 card-carrying Communists and members of a spy ring employed in the U.S. Department of State. McCarthy was never able to prove his sensational charge. More
1955, December 1 - Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement. More
1955, December 5 - The Montgomery Bus Boycott ends after the U.S. Supreme Court rules that racial segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.
1959, December 1 - The Antarctic Treaty is signed by 12 countries, making the Antarctic continent a demilitarized zone to be preserved for scientific research. More
1960, December 1 - The African country of Cameroon gains independence from France.
1960, December 4 - A magnitude 9.5 earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded, strikes Chile, resulting in widespread destruction and loss of life.
1960, December 7 - Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) gains independence from French colonial rule.
1960, December 11 - French forces capture the Algerian city of Oran, effectively ending the Algerian War of Independence.
1960, December 14 - Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is officially established in Baghdad, Iraq.
1960, December 15 - Richard Pavlick attempts to assassinate then-U.S. President-elect John F. Kennedy in Florida.
1960, December 16 - The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marking a significant moment in human rights history.
1960, December 18 - Charles de Gaulle is reelected as the President of France.
1960, December 28 - An uprising against Portuguese colonial rule in Angola, known as the Baixa de Cassanje revolt, begins.
1961, December 2 - Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist-Leninist and Cuba becomes a communist state.
1961, December 6 - Independence is granted to Kuwait, ending British protection.
1961, December 9 - Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania) gains independence from British colonial rule.
1961, December 11 - Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal, is found guilty and sentenced to death in Israel.
1961, December 18 - India annexes the territories of Goa, Daman, and Diu, ending Portuguese colonial rule in the region.
1962, December 10 - The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Linus Pauling for his work in campaigning against nuclear weapons testing.
1962, December 14 - Mariner 2, an American space probe, becomes the first spacecraft to successfully fly by Venus.
1962, December 17 - The United States lifts its economic embargo on Cuba, allowing the sale of certain goods.
1962, December 20 - The New York City Board of Estimate votes to build the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
1962, December 25 - An earthquake and tsunami in Northern Chile result in significant loss of life and destruction.
1963, December 1 - The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Hotline is established between the United States and the Soviet Union.
1963, December 7 - The United States launches the communication satellite Syncom 3, which broadcasts the first live transatlantic television program.1963, December 10 - The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
1963, December 10 - Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) gains independence from British colonial rule.
1963, December 17 - The Clean Air Act is signed into law in the United States, aiming to reduce air pollution.
1964, December 10 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent civil rights activism.
1964, December 2 - The U.S. Senate passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authority to use military force in Vietnam.
1964, December 10 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the American civil rights movement.
1964, December 11 - The South African Rivonia Trial concludes with the sentencing of Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists to life in prison.
1964, December 15 - Canada adopts the new national flag, the Maple Leaf, replacing the Red Ensign.
1965, December 4 - NASA's Gemini 7 and Gemini 6 spacecraft achieve the first space rendezvous, flying within 1 foot of each other.
1965, December 13 - Singapore gains independence from Malaysia and becomes a sovereign nation.
1965, December 22 - Apartheid in South Africa is further entrenched with the passing of the Suppression of Communism Act.
1966, December 1 - The West Coast Port Dispute, a labor strike, begins on the U.S. West Coast, affecting shipping and trade.
1966, December 4 - The United Nations General Assembly recognizes the independence of Barbados and Guyana.
1966, December 25 - The first Kwanzaa celebration is held, a week-long holiday honoring African heritage in African American culture.
1966, December 30 - The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, secures a contract for the band to produce animated television shows.
1966, December 31 - The estimated population of the world reaches 3.45 billion, according to the United Nations.
1967, December 3 - The first successful human heart transplant is performed by South African surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard.
1969, December 2 - The Boeing 747 jumbo jet makes its first passenger flight. It carried 191 people, 110 of them reporters and photographers, from Seattle, to New York City.
1972, December 7 - Apollo 17, the final Apollo moon mission, launches from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
1973, December 2 - The first mobile phone call is made by Martin Cooper, a Motorola executive, in New York City.
1978, December 25 - Vietnam invades Cambodia, leading to the eventual downfall of the Khmer Rouge regime.
1979, December 24 - The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, beginning the Soviet-Afghan War.
1980, December 8 - Former Beatle John Lennon is assassinated in New York City.
1981, December 13 - The martial law imposed in Poland is lifted, ending a period of political repression.
1987, December 8 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).
1988, December 21 - Pan Am Flight 103 is destroyed by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland.
1989, December 3 - The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus sign the Belavezha Accords, effectively dissolving the Soviet Union.
1989, December 2 - The Cold War officially ends with a summit meeting between U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.1991 CE, December 26 - The dissolution of the Soviet Union is officially declared, ending the existence of the USSR.
1990, December 1 - The Chunnel Breakthrough - In a mostly ceremonial event, British miner Graham Fagg and his French counterpart Philippe Cozette made history whent hey broke through the last piece of rock separating the French and British side of the Chunnel,132 feet (100 metres) below the English Channel, connecting the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. The official opening of the Chunnel took place In a May 6, 1994 in a ceremony presided over by England’s Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand. More
1991, December 8 - The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus sign the Belavezha Accords, effectively dissolving the Soviet Union.1992 CE, December 6 - The Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India, is demolished by Hindu nationalists, leading to communal violence.
1993, December 2 - Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is killed in a shootout with authorities.
1995, December 14 - The Dayton Agreement is signed, ending the Bosnian War with the goal of achieving peace in the Balkans.
1997, December 3 - The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to combat climate change, is adopted.
1998, December 19 - The U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Bill Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
1999, December 20 - Macau is handed back to China by Portugal, marking the end of Portuguese colonial rule.
1999, December 31 - The Panama Canal is transferred from U.S. control to Panamanian ownership.
2000, December 12 - The United States Supreme Court releases its decision in the case of Bush v. Gore, effectively ending the recount of the presidential election and leading to the election of George W. Bush as President of the United States.
2001, December 2 - The Enron Corporation files for bankruptcy. Eventually it came to light, that some of Enron aggressive accounting practices allowed claiming future unrealized gains from some trading contracts into current income and the transferring of troubled operations to so-called special purpose entities (SPEs), kept the assets off Enron’s books, making its losses look less severe than they really were. Enron’s collapse, cost investors billions of dollars, wiped out over 5,600 jobs and liquidated over $2 billion in pension plans. It also trigerred the collapse of Arthur Anderson which had served not only as Enron’s auditor but also as a consultant to the company. More about Enron - #toc-where-are-they-now">More about the executives
2001, December 11 - China joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) after 15 years of negotiations.
2003, December 13 - Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, is captured by U.S. forces near Tikrit.
2007, December 27 - Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in Rawalpindi.
2009, December 1 - The Lisbon Treaty, which reformed the European Union's institutions, comes into force.
2010, December 17 - The outbreak of the Arab Spring begins when Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, sets himself on fire in protest, sparking widespread demonstrations.
2011, December 18 - The last convoy of U.S. troops leaves Iraq, officially marking the end of the Iraq War.
2012, December 14 - A mass shooting occurs at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, leading to renewed discussions on gun control in the United States.
2013, December 5 - The death of Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid icon.
2014, December 17 - The United States and Cuba announce plans to normalize diplomatic relations after decades of tension.
2015, December 12 - The Paris Agreement on climate change is adopted by 196 countries during the COP21 summit.
2016, December 19 - The assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara.
2017, December 6 - The United States officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, sparking controversy and protests.
2018, December 1 - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush passes away at the age of 94.
2019, December 19 - The United States House of Representatives impeaches President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
2020, December 14 - The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are administered in the United Kingdom, marking the beginning of vaccination campaigns worldwide.
2020, December 24 - The United Kingdom and the European Union reach a post-Brexit trade deal, averting a no-deal scenario.
2020, December 28 - The United States Congress passes the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, providing economic relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021, December 4 - British businessman Richard Branson becomes the first person to reach space aboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceplane.
2021, December 31 - The United Kingdom officially completes its transition out of the European Union, fully implementing Brexit.