The practice of decorating a home with pine boughs predates the more modern idea of the Christmas tree by centuries. By the 1600s, the Protestant population of Germany embraced the idea of bringing a tree into the home and decorating it, setting in motion the development of a grand Western tradition that has spread beyond Europe and North America, and fuels an entire industry of tree farms and the manufacture of artificial trees. If you’re celebrating Christmas today, we wish you a merry one.
Born: Mar 02, 1931 (age 87) · Privolnoye, Krasnogvardeysky District, Stavropol Krai, Russia
Spouse: Raisa Gorbacheva (m. 1953 – 1999)
Children: Irina Mihailovna Virganskaya (Daughter)
Founded: Union of Social Democrats · Social Democratic Party of Russia · Club of Madrid · The Gorbachev Foundation · Green Cross International · Global Green USA · Kombat Armouring
Education: Moscow State University
Awards: Nobel Peace Prize (1990) · Ronald Reagan Freedom Award (1992) · Indira Gandhi Prize (1987) · Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children (2004) · Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold (1989) · Free Your Mind (2009) · Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1999)Highlights
- 1953: Mikhail Gorbachev married Raisa Gorbacheva on September 25, 1953; their marriage lasted 46 years till September 20, 1999.
- 1983: In April 1983, Gorbachev delivered the annual Lenin’s birthday speech; this required him re-reading many of Lenin’s later writings, in which the first Soviet leader had called for reform, and encouraged Gorbachev’s own conviction that reform was needed.
- 1985: Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief “interregna” of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected general secretary by the Politburo in 1985.
- 1986: Gorbachev initiated his new policy of perestroika (literally “restructuring” in Russian) and its attendant radical reforms in 1986; they were sketched, but not fully spelled out, at the XXVIIth Party Congress in February–March 1986.
- 1987: Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World written by Mikhail Gorbachev was first published on November 01, 1987.
- 1990: On 15 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the first executive President of the Soviet Union with 59% of the Deputies’ votes.
President George H. W. Bush and President Mikhail Gorbachev sign United States/Soviet Union agreements to end chemical weapon production and begin destroying their respective stocks in the East Room of the White House, Washington, DC on the 1st of June 1990.
Also on this day,
336 | Earliest documented celebration of Christmas
“25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.” Translation: “December 25, Christ born in Bethlehem, Judea.” This inscription will be found in an ancient list of Roman bishops and is the earliest recorded proof of a celebration of Christmas. The inaugural celebration takes place in Rome.1914 | Christmas truce as enemies exchange Christmas greetings at front
After a week of an unofficial cease-fire, German soldiers in WWI emerge from trenches and walk toward the British line, calling out “Merry Christmas.” Once the Brits determine it’s not a trick, they climb out to greet their enemies. Men shake hands, exchange cigarettes, and even bury the dead.1941 | Bing Crosby croons ‘Christmas’ as ‘White Christmas’ debuts on radio
During ‘The Kraft Music Hall’ broadcast on NBC radio, Bing Crosby sings a new composition by songwriter Irving Berlin. Crosby will record ‘White Christmas’ the following year for the film ‘Holiday Inn’ and again in 1947. Crosby’s ’47 recording of the secular holiday tune will sell more than 50 million copies, and earn all-time best-selling single status.
The Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of World War I around Christmas 1914.
The Christmas truce occurred during the relatively early period of the war (month 5 of 51). Hostilities had entered somewhat of a lull as leadership on both sides reconsidered their strategies following the stalemate of the Race to the Sea and the indecisive result of the First Battle of Ypres. In the week leading up to the 25th, French, German, and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football (soccer) with one another, giving one of the most memorable images of the truce. Peaceful behavior was not ubiquitous; fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.
The following year, a few units arranged ceasefires but the truces were not nearly as widespread as in 1914; this was, in part, due to strongly worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting fraternisation. Soldiers were no longer amenable to truce by 1916. The war had become increasingly bitter after devastating human losses suffered during the battles of the Somme and Verdun, and the use of poison gas.
The truces were not unique to the Christmas period, and reflected a growing mood of "live and let live", where infantry close together would stop overtly aggressive behavior and often engage in small-scale fraternisation, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes. In some sectors, there would be occasional ceasefires to allow soldiers to go between the lines and recover wounded or dead comrades, while in others, there would be a tacit agreement not to shoot while men rested, exercised or worked in full view of the enemy. The Christmas truces were particularly significant due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation—even in very peaceful sectors, dozens of men openly congregating in daylight was remarkable—and are often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history.
An artist's impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches"