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Christmas is meant to be a day of peace and goodwill around the world, as well as a holiday in many countries. However the reverence of the day is not always respected by Mother Nature or dastardly military generals keen to strike with absolute suprise.

604: Battle of Etampes between forces of Burgundy and Neustriers. Many people on both sides slaughtered.

1300: Antipope Anacletus II crowns Roger II the Norman King of Sicily, a competent but otherwise ruthless monarch who sacked Capua and insigated raids along the coast of Africa (the Jolly Roger is named after him).

1621: Games are banned from being played in Plymouth on Christmas Day.

1683: Spain declares war on France. Many people subsequently die.

1717: Floods hit Holland, thousands die.

1837: Battle of Okeechobee between Seminole Indians and a US military contigent under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor. (not so bad for the Seminoles who came out of the fighting in better shape than the palefaces. Not so bad for Zac, who got promoted to General. Not so good for 26 dead soldiers and 11 dead Injuns).

1924: Hirohito is crowned Emperor of Japan.

1932: King George V's chair collapses at his Christmas dinner while he is giving a speech (not so bad if you were watching).

1941: Hong Kong falls to Japanese forces in World War Two.

1944: The USAF accidentally bomb Switzerland (not so bad if you were German).

1946: W. C. Fields dies, aged 67.

1950: Scottish nationalists break into Westminster Abbey and steal the Stone of Scone (not so bad if you are Scottish).

1953: Lava flow from a volcano in Ruapehu, New Zealand kills 150 people.

1954: Birth of Annie Lennox.

1962: Soviets detonate a nuclear bomb at Novaya Zemlya.

1964: Crazed Beatles fans attack Patti Boyd, girlfriend of George Harrison.

1971: A hotel fire in Seoul kills 163 people.

1974: Australian town of Darwin is destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, 65 dead.

1976: Egyptian liner SS Patria sinks in the Red Sea, 100 dead.

1977: Charlie Chaplin dies, aged 88.

1979: The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.

1983: Joan Miro dies.

1986: An Iraqi Airways crashes in Saudi Arabia, 62 dead.

1989: Romanian dictator Nicholae Ceaueascu executed by firing squad with his nasty wife Elena - their trial was so slapdash and subjective that the judge in a pique of remorse later committed suicide.

1992: Queen Elizabeth II gives her Annus horribilis Christmas message, which is criticised for being too self-indulgent in her own misfortunes (marital discord of her children, Windsor Castle burnt down) while ignoring the suffering experienced in Bosnia, Somalia and other parts of the world that year.

1995: Dean Martin dies, aged 78.

2003: Mars space probe Beagle 2 disappears.

2005: Fire in a bar in Zhongshan, China. 35 dead.

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