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Last updated 12/20/2022 at 12:35pm | View PDF

The History Channel

* On Dec. 21, 2006, rebel monks at the centuries-old Esphigmenou Monastery in Thessaloniki, Greece, took up crowbars and fire extinguishers to repel church-appointed monks with sledgehammers attempting to break in. The rebels vehemently opposed efforts by the Orthodox church to improve relations with the Vatican.

* On Dec. 22, 1956, a baby western gorilla named Colo debuted on the world stage at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, where she would spend her entire life, becoming the first-ever gorilla born in captivity. Upon her death in 2017, she was also the oldest known gorilla in the world.

* On Dec. 23, 1672, Italian astronomer, mathematician and engineer Giovanni Domenico Cassini discovered Rhea (originally christened Sidera Lodoicea), the second-largest of Saturn’s 62 moons. In 2010, a spacecraft named for Cassini would detect a thin oxygen atmosphere around it -- the first such known outside planet Earth.

* On Dec. 24, 1945, a fire destroyed the home of George and Jennie Sodder and their nine children in Fayetteville, West Virginia. While their parents and four other siblings escaped, no sign of the remaining five children has ever been found, despite decades-long publicity and numerous investigations by both law enforcement and amateur sleuths.

* On Dec. 25, 2013, military defense forces discovered a professionally designed but incomplete 40-meter tunnel connecting Hong King to China that included rail tracks, hanging lamps, ventilators and a small transport cart. Authorities believed the tunnel, which cost an estimated $494,000, was created with the intention of smuggling goods into Hong Kong to avoid tariffs.

* On Dec. 26, 1966, the first Kwanzaa celebrations began in America, with the holiday continuing until Jan. 1. Created by activist, author and professor of Africana studies Dr. Maulana Karenga, the annual event, which affirms African family and social values, was originally intended to replace Christmas for Africans.

* On Dec. 27, 1994, Rwanda’s president died in a plane crash and the African country was plunged into a genocidal blood bath in which the Hutu majority slaughtered the Tutsis, leaving half a million dead. A distraught missionary exclaimed of the carnage: “There are no devils left in hell. They are all in Rwanda.”

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