December 24 events in history

640 Pope John IV is elected
759 Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu departs for Chengdu, where he is hosted by fellow poet Pei Di
1144 The capital of the crusader County of Edessa falls to Imad ad-Din Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo
1294 Pope Boniface VIII is elected Pope, replacing St. Celestine V, who had resigned
1500 A joint Venetian–Spanish fleet captures the Castle of St. George on the island of Cephalonia
1777 Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook
1814 The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812
1818 The first performance of "Silent Night" takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria
1826 The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning
1851 Library of Congress burns
1865 The Ku Klux Klan is formed
1871 Aida opens in Cairo, Egypt
1906 Radio: Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech
1911 Lackawanna Cut-Off railway line opens in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
1913 The Italian Hall disaster ("1913 Massacre") in Calumet, Michigan, results in the death of 73 Christmas party goers held by striking mine workers, including 59 children
1914 World War I: The "Christmas truce" begins
1924 Albania becomes a republic
1929 Assassination attempt on Argentine President Hipólito Yrigoyen
1939 World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace
1941 World War II: Kuching is conquered by Japanese forces
1942 World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, assassinates Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algeria
1943 World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Normandy Invasion
1951 Libya becomes independent from Italy. Idris I is proclaimed King of Libya
1953 Tangiwai disaster: In New Zealand's North Island, at Tangiwai, a railway bridge is damaged by a lahar and collapses beneath a passenger train, killing 151 people
1955 NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition
1964 Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bomb the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate they can strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital
1966 A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129
1968 Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history
1969 Charles Manson is allowed to defend himself at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial
1973 District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government
1974 Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia
1979 The first European Ariane rocket is launched
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"
1994 Air France Flight 8969 is hijacked on the ground at Houari Boumedienne Airport, Algiers, Algeria. Over the course of 3 days 3 passengers are killed, as are all 4 terrorists
1997 The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria kills 50-100 people
1999 Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacked in Indian airspace between Kathmandu, Nepal, and Delhi, India; aircraft eventually landed at Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ordeal ended on December 31 with the release of 190 survivors (1 passenger killed)
2000 The Texas Seven hold up a sports store in Irving, Texas. Police officer Aubrey Hawkins is murdered during the robbery
2003 The Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid's busy Chamartín Station
2005 Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead
2008 Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400