Dec. 25 (UPI) — On this date in history:
In about 3 B.C., according to Christian belief, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Calendar miscalculations of the time make it impossible to be certain of the year.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King William I of England.
In 1818, the first known Christmas carol was sung at Oberndorf, Austria. It was “Silent Night, Holy Night,” composed by organist Franz Gruber and the Rev. Joseph Mohr.
In 1938, after auditioning numerous women for the role, producer David O. Selznick chose British actress Vivien Leigh to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.
In 1941, British Hong Kong surrendered to Japanese forces.
In 1986, the hijackers of an Iraqi Airways Boeing 737 en route from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, exploded grenades, causing a fiery crash in Saudi Arabia. Sixty-seven of the 107 people aboard died.
In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president the day before Russia’s Supreme Soviet (the name for the USSR’s legislative bodies) voted to end the Soviet Union.
In 1995, actor-singer Dean Martin died at the age of 78.
In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton offered a Middle East peace plan that, among other things, included proposals for Israel to give up sovereignty over the Temple Mount and for Palestinians to surrender right of refugees to return to Israel.
In 2000, a fire broke out at a Christmas party at an unlicensed disco in Luoyang, China, killing more than 300 people.
In 2003, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf survived a second assassination attempt in a little over a week but 14 others were killed and 40 injured in a suicide attack.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI revealed a new-style nativity scene in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square. It depicted Jesus’ birth in Joseph’s house, with no mention of a manger or journey to Bethlehem. The Christmas scene was apparently based on St. Matthew’s version of the nativity.
In 2009, a 23-year-old Nigerian man was charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner with explosives hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day. The bomb failed to detonate and he was quickly subdued.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to fighting in war-torn Syria. “I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced,” the pope said in his Christmas message. “May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.”
In 2013, at the Vatican, Pope Francis, in his first Christmas message as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke out against wars that “shatter and hurt so many lives” and called on the opposing sides in the Syrian conflict to “guarantee access to humanitarian aid.” In Baghdad, car bombs, including one near a Catholic church and another a half-mile away, at a place where Christians gather, killed 37 people and wounded dozens.
In 2016, an aging jetliner belonging to the Russian government crashed into the Black Sea off the country’s west coast, killing more than 90 people, including journalists and members of a prominent military choir band.