Late December, especially the 25th day of that final month, has been an important time throughout history, especially in the Western world. To celebrate that auspicious Christmas day here in 2022, I’ve put together a list of some of the historic events from this time of year that have intrigued me in the course of my studies. These may not be the most important events which took place during the Christmas season, but they are all interesting and impactful in their own ways. So, without further ado, here are 12 remembrances of the history of yuletides past (in chronological order) – one for each day of Christmas.
This detailed & readable history of the Great Lisbon Earthquake is well worth your time.
On November 1, 1755 – All Saints Day in the Catholic Church – the greatest natural catastrophe in the history of modern Europe took place: the Great Lisbon Earthquake. The earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, completely destroyed the glittering capital of the Portuguese Empire and claimed victims on four continents. The tremors, along with the resulting tsunami and firestorm, turned Lisbon, previously a cosmopolitan masterpiece of a city replete with imperial grandeur, into a hulking collection of burnt-out ruins. Yet most of us interested in history (even European history) may not have heard of this cataclysmic event or had only heard of it in passing. A 2015 book by historian Mark Molesky seeks to right that wrong and give the Lisbon earthquake its proper historical due as a key event in the European Enlightenment. [Sidebar: Dr. Molesky is one of my professors at Seton Hall University and I have studied under him.]