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The Independent Online
Christmas Eve: Births: Matthew Arnold, poet and critic, 1822; Howard Robard Hughes, millionaire and recluse, 1905. Deaths: William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist, 1863; Frank Richards (Charles Harold St John Hamilton), creator of "Billy Bunter", 1961. On this day: Verdi's Aida was first performed, Cairo 1871; Ahmed ben Zogu (later King Zog) overthrew the Albanian government and proclaimed a republic, 1924. Today is Christmas Eve and the Feast Day of St Adela, St Delphinus, St Gregory of Spoleto, St Irmina, St Sharbel Makhlouf and Saints Tharsilla and Emiliana.

CHRISTMAS DAY: Births: Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician, physicist and astronomer, 1642; Humphrey DeForest Bogart, actor, 1899. Deaths: W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield), comedian, 1946; Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, comedian, 1977; Nicolae Ceausescu, former Romanian president, executed by firing squad 1989. On this day: William I, "the Conqueror", was crowned in Westminster Abbey, 1066; President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union was officially disbanded, 1991. Tomorrow is Christmas Day and the Feast Day of St Alburga, St Anastasia of Sirmium, St Eugenia and the Martyrs of Nicomedia.