Toni Dowden

Written by Toni Dowden

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


December 21st holds a significant place in history, as it witnessed numerous remarkable events across different centuries and continents. From noteworthy achievements and historic milestones to significant births and unfortunate tragedies, this date is filled with a plethora of intriguing facts. Exploring the events that took place on December 21st allows us to delve into the tapestry of human history and gain a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit. In this article, we will embark on a journey through time, uncovering the noteworthy events, achievements, and individuals that have made this date a memorable one. So, let’s delve into the fascinating moments that have shaped December 21st throughout history.

Key Takeaways:

  • December 21st marks the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the first crossword puzzle publication, and the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, shaping history across exploration, culture, and governance.
  • Notable births like Benjamin Disraeli and Joseph Stalin, along with the release of “Pulp Fiction” and the debut of “The Nutcracker,” make December 21st a day filled with influential cultural and artistic milestones.
Table of Contents


  • 1620: The Mayflower Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, establishing the first permanent European settlement in New England.
  • 1844: The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, considered the prototype of the modern cooperative movement, is founded in Rochdale, England.
  • 1913: The first crossword puzzle is published in the New York World newspaper, created by journalist Arthur Wynne.
  • 1945: General George S. Patton, one of the most prominent American military figures of World War II, dies from injuries sustained in a car accident in Germany.
  • 1975: Six terrorists from the Revolutionary Cells seize control of the conference hall of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, taking over 60 hostages and triggering a tense hostage crisis.


  • 1620: French astronomer Pierre Gassendi observes the transit of Mercury, becoming the first person to accurately record the event.
  • 1879: Thomas Edison demonstrates his electric incandescent light bulb for the first time, revolutionizing the way we illuminate our homes and cities.
  • 1988: The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the most important astronomical instruments ever built, is deployed into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery.
  • 2001: The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens to the public after more than a decade of stabilization efforts to prevent it from toppling over.
  • 2015: SpaceX successfully lands their reusable Falcon 9 rocket, marking a significant milestone in the pursuit of affordable space exploration.


  • 1620: The Mayflower Compact, the first written framework of government established in the Plymouth Colony, is signed by Pilgrim leaders aboard the Mayflower.
  • 1788: Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the United States Constitution, officially joining the Union as the first state of the newly formed United States of America.
  • 1958: Charles de Gaulle is elected as the first President of the Fifth Republic of France, a position he holds until 1969.
  • 1975: John Nance Garner, the 32nd Vice President of the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, passes away at the age of 98.
  • 1989: Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceau?escu and his wife Elena are captured following a failed escape attempt, marking the end of their dictatorial regime.


  • 1891: The first performance of the Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” takes place at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
  • 1940: F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century, releases his final completed novel, “The Last Tycoon.
  • 1969: The Jackson 5, featuring a young Michael Jackson, release their debut album, which includes the hit single “I Want You Back.
  • 1994: Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic film “Pulp Fiction” is released, receiving widespread critical acclaim and becoming a cultural phenomenon.
  • 2012: South Korean pop sensation Psy’s music video for “Gangnam Style” becomes the first video in history to reach one billion views on YouTube.


  • 1804: Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman and novelist who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice.
  • 1879: Joseph Stalin, Soviet leader who transformed the Soviet Union into a major world power and implemented aggressive policies of mass industrialization and collectivization.
  • 1948: Frank Zappa, American musician, composer, and producer known for his eclectic and innovative music across various genres.
  • 1966: Kiefer Sutherland, Canadian actor best known for his role as Jack Bauer in the television series “24.
  • 1988: Samuel Eto’o, Cameroonian professional footballer widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time.


  • 1598: Philip II of Spain, King of Spain and Portugal, known for his involvement in numerous wars, including the Spanish Armada against England.
  • 1945: Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat who played a key role in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
  • 1975: Hannah Arendt, influential political theorist and philosopher known for her works on totalitarianism, authority, and the nature of power.
  • 2001: W. G. Sebald, German writer whose novels and essays explore themes of memory, history, and the impact of World War II.
  • 2018: Penny Marshall, American actress, director, and producer known for her role as Laverne DeFazio in the television series “Laverne & Shirley.


December 21st has witnessed numerous significant events throughout history. From the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims to the first crossword puzzle publication, this date has seen pivotal moments across various domains. It brought forth scientific breakthroughs like the demonstration of the electric incandescent light bulb and the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope. Politically, it witnessed the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the election of Charles de Gaulle as the first President of the Fifth Republic of France. Culturally, it saw the debut of the Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker” and the release of the iconic film “Pulp Fiction.” Noteworthy births, such as Benjamin Disraeli and Joseph Stalin, and notable deaths like Philip II of Spain and Thomas Edward Lawrence, add to the historical significance of this day.


Q: What is the significance of December 21st in history?

A: December 21st holds historical significance due to various events that occurred on this day, including the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the publication of the first crossword puzzle, and the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Q: Who were some notable people born on December 21st?

A: Some notable individuals born on December 21st include Benjamin Disraeli, Joseph Stalin, Frank Zappa, Kiefer Sutherland, and Samuel Eto’o.

Q: What are some famous cultural events that took place on December 21st?

A: December 21st saw the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker,” the release of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel “The Last Tycoon,” and the debut album of the Jackson 5.

Q: Are there any political milestones associated with December 21st?

A: Yes, December 21st marks the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the ratification of the United States Constitution by Delaware, the election of Charles de Gaulle as the first President of the Fifth Republic of France, and the capture of Nicolae Ceau?escu following a failed escape attempt.

Q: Who were some notable figures who passed away on December 21st?

A: Noteworthy individuals who died on December 21st include Philip II of Spain, Lawrence of Arabia, Hannah Arendt, W. G. Sebald, and Penny Marshall.

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