December 24, 2004
Today in history—December 24
1818: School teacher and church organist Franz Xavier Gruber of Oberndorf, Austria, writes the music to a poem written by his friend, Father Josef Mohr in a few hours. The song, Stille Nachte ("Silent Night"), will be performed at St. Nicholas Church’s midnight mass.
1867: The R.H. Macy store in New York decides to keep its doors open until midnight on Christmas Eve to catch last-minute shoppers. It’s a big success.
1948: The first Christmas midnight mass is broadcast from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
1953: Fatima Cigarettes sponsors a new television program: Dragnet, starring Jack Webb. The show has been on the radio since 1949.
1985: Cuban caudillo Fidel Castro gives up smoking.
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