What happened on December 31? There are more than 284 events that were made this day in history. Here are the important historical events, facts, and some myths about this day.

Interesting Facts & Myths About December 31

December 31 In HistoryDecember 31 is the 366th day of the year 2020. The day of the week is Thursday. This day falls under the 53rd week of the year 2020.

On this day in Dixon, Missouri 65459 sunrise will occur at 07:24 AM and sunset will occur at 04:59 PM (local time).

The zodiac sign of a person born on this day is Capricorn. The modern birthstone for this month is Turquoise while the mystical birthstone is Onyx.

According to the Chinese calendar, there are 43 days remaining before the start of the next Chinese New Year (February 12, 2021).

Birthday curiousity Is your birthday coming up in two days? Are you not curious to find out who is sharing your special day? Discover all the November 27 famous birthdays. There are fun facts about that day that you must know. (Sponsored link)

December 31: A Day In History

It is widely known as New Year’s Eve since the following day is New Year’s Day. It is the last day of the year.

Historical Events For December 31

  • 406
    Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul.
  • 535
    Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year.
  • 1225
    The Ly Dynasty of Vietnam ends after 216 years by the enthronement of the boy emperor Tran Thai Tong, husband of the last Ly monarch, Ly Chieu Hoang, starting the Tran Dynasty.
  • 1229
    James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christian reconquest of the island of Majorca.
  • 1600
    The British East India Company is chartered.
  • 1660
    James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France.
  • 1687
    The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1695
    A window tax is imposed in England, causing many householders to brick up windows to avoid the tax.
  • 1759
    Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.
  • 1775
    American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery.
  • 1790
    Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived till today is published for the first time.
  • 1831
    Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.
  • 1853
    A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an Iguanodon created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London, England, United Kingdom
  • 1857
    Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, Ontario, then a small logging town, as the capital of Canada.
  • 1862
    American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.
  • 1862
    American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River begins near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • 1879
    Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
  • 1906
    Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar signs the Persian Constitution of 1906.
  • 1907
    The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York.
  • 1909
    Manhattan Bridge opens.
  • 1923
    The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.
  • 1944
    World War II: Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany.
  • 1946
    President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
  • 1951
    The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than US$13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.
  • 1955
    The General Motors Corporation becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
  • 1960
    The farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.
  • 1961
    RTÉ Ireland’s state broadcaster launches its first national television service.
  • 1963
    The Central African Federation officially collapses and splits into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.
  • 1965
    Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers begins a coup d'état against the government of President David Dacko.
  • 1981
    A coup d'état in Ghana removes President Hilla Limann’s PNP government and replaces it with the Provisional National Defence Council led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings.
  • 1983
    In Nigeria a coup d'état led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari ends the Nigerian Second Republic.
  • 1983
    The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.
  • 1986
    A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 and injures 140.
  • 1991
    All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union is officially dissolved.
  • 1992
    Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • 1994
    The first Chechen war: Russian army began a New Year’s storm of Grozny
  • 1994
    This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC-10:00 to UTC+14:00, respectively.
  • 1998
    The European Exchange Rate Mechanism freezes the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and establishes the value of the euro currency.
  • 1999
    Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.
  • 1999
    Five hijackers, who had been holding 155 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane, leave the plane with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed.
  • 1999
    The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.
  • 2004
    The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 m.

Who Were Born On December 31?

  • 695
    Muhammad bin Qasim, Syrian general (d. 715)
  • 1378
    Pope Callixtus III (d. 1458)
  • 1491
    Jacques Cartier, French explorer (d. 1557)
  • 1514
    Andreas Vesalius, Flemish anatomist (d. 1564)
  • 1572
    Emperor Go-Yozei of Japan, (d. 1617)
  • 1585
    Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, (d. 1645)
  • 1668
    Herman Boerhaave, Dutch humanist and physician (d. 1738)
  • 1720
    Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne (d. 1788)
  • 1738
    Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, British general (d. 1805)
  • 1741
    Gottfried August Bürger, German poet d.(1794)
  • 1741
    Isabella Maria of Parma, wife of future Holy Roman emperor (d. 1763)
  • 1763
    Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, French admiral (d. 1806)
  • 1805
    Marie d'Agoult, French author (d.1876)
  • 1815
    George Meade, American Civil War general (d. 1872)
  • 1823
    Sándor Petőfi, Hungarian poet (d. 1849)
  • 1830
    Alexander Smith, Scottish poet (d. 1867)
  • 1830
    Isma'il Pasha, Governor of Egypt (d. 1895)
  • 1851
    Henry Carter Adams, American economist (d. 1921)
  • 1855
    Giovanni Pascoli, Italian poet (d. 1912)
  • 1857
    King Kelly, American baseball player (d. 1894)
  • 1860
    Joseph S. Cullinan, American oil industrialist (d. 1937)
  • 1864
    Robert Grant Aitken, American astronomer (d. 1951)
  • 1869
    Henri Matisse, French painter (d. 1954)
  • 1877
    Lawrence Beesley, English journalist and author (d. 1967)
  • 1878
    Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman (d. 1966)
  • 1878
    Horacio Quiroga, Uruguayan-Argentinian writer (d. 1937)
  • 1880
    Fred Beebe, American baseball player (d. 1957)
  • 1880
    George C. Marshall, United States Secretary of State, Nobel Laureate (d. 1959)
  • 1881
    Max Pechstein, German painter (d. 1955)
  • 1882
    Martin O'Meara, Australian soldier (d. 1935)
  • 1884
    Bobby Byrne, American baseball player (d. 1964)
  • 1885
    Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein (d. 1970)
  • 1899
    Silvestre Revueltas, Mexican composer (d. 1940)
  • 1901
    Julia Bathory, Hungarian glass designer(d. 2000)
  • 1901
    Nikos Ploumpidis, Greek resistance fighter (d. 1954)
  • 1902
    Lionel Daunais, French-Canadian singer and composer (d. 1982)
  • 1903
    Nathan Milstein, Ukrainian violinist (d. 1992)
  • 1904
    Umm Kulthum, Egyptian singer and actress (d. 1975)
  • 1905
    Jule Styne, English-born composer (d. 1994)
  • 1908
    Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor (d. 2005)
  • 1909
    Jonah Jones, American jazz trumpeter (d. 2000)
  • 1910
    Carl Dudley, American film director (d. 1973)
  • 1911
    Dal Stivens, Australian novelist (d. 1997)
  • 1912
    Maj-Gen John Frost, British para commander (d. 1993)
  • 1917
    Wilfrid Noyce, English mountaineer (d. 1962)
  • 1919
    Tommy Byrne, American baseball player (d. 2007)
  • 1920
    Rex Allen, American actor, singer, and songwriter (d. 1999)
  • 1924
    Taylor Mead, American actor
  • 1926
    Billy Snedden, Australian politician (d. 1987)
  • 1928
    Siné, French cartoonist
  • 1929
    Mies Bouwman, Dutch television personality
  • 1930
    Jaime Escalante, American teacher (d. 2010)
  • 1930
    Odetta, American singer (d. 2008)
  • 1931
    Bob Shaw, Irish writer (d. 1996)
  • 1933
    Edward Bunker, American author and actor (d. 2005)
  • 1934
    Akram Awan, Islamic scholar
  • 1934
    Noel Tyl, American astrologer
  • 1937
    Avram Hershko, Israeli biologist, Nobel laureate
  • 1937
    Barry Hughes, Welsh professional football player and manager and entertainer
  • 1937
    Sir Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor
  • 1938
    Rosalind Cash, American actress (d. 1995)
  • 1940
    Mani Neumeier, German musician (Guru Guru)
  • 1941
    Alex Ferguson, Scottish football manager
  • 1941
    Sarah Miles, English actress
  • 1941
    Sean S. Cunningham, American film director
  • 1942
    Andy Summers, British guitarist (The Police)
  • 1943
    John Denver, American singer and songwriter (d. 1997)
  • 1943
    Pete Quaife, English bassist (The Kinks) (d. 2010)
  • 1943
    Sir Ben Kingsley, English actor
  • 1944
    Neil Ross, British-American voice actor
  • 1944
    Taylor Hackford, American producer and director
  • 1945
    Barbara Carrera, Nicaraguan actress and model
  • 1945
    Connie Willis, American writer
  • 1945
    Diane von Fürstenberg, Belgian-born fashion designer
  • 1946
    Pius Ncube, Zimbabwean human rights advocate
  • 1947
    Burton Cummings, Canadian keyboardist (The Guess Who)
  • 1947
    Rita Lee, Brazilian rock singer
  • 1947
    Tim Matheson, American actor
  • 1948
    Donna Summer, American singer
  • 1948
    Joe Dallesandro American actor
  • 1948
    René Robert, National Hockey League player
  • 1949
    Ellen Datlow, American editor
  • 1949
    Seub Nakhasathien, Thai conservationist (d. 1990)
  • 1949
    Susan Shwartz, American writer
  • 1951
    Tom Hamilton, American bassist (Aerosmith)
  • 1952
    Vaughan F. R. Jones , New Zealand mathematician
  • 1953
    James Remar, American actor
  • 1953
    Jane Badler, American actress
  • 1953
    Michael Hedges, American composer, singer-songwriter, guitarist (d. 1997)
  • 1954
    Alex Salmond, Scottish politician
  • 1954
    Hermann Tilke, German racing circuit architect
  • 1956
    Steve Rude, American comics artist
  • 1958
    Bebe Neuwirth, American actress
  • 1959
    Alfie Anido, Filipino actor (d. 1981)
  • 1959
    Baron Waqa, Nauruan politician and musician
  • 1959
    Liveris Andritsos, Greek basketball player
  • 1959
    Paul Westerberg, American musician (The Replacements)
  • 1959
    Phill Kline, American politician
  • 1959
    Val Kilmer, American actor
  • 1960
    John Allen Muhammad, American spree killer (d. 2009)
  • 1960
    Steve Bruce, English footballer
  • 1961
    Nina Li Chi, Chinese actress
  • 1961
    Rick Aguilera, American baseball player
  • 1962
    Don Diamont, American actor
  • 1962
    Heather McCartney, British activist
  • 1962
    Tyrone Corbin, American basketball player
  • 1963
    Konishiki, American sumo wrestler
  • 1963
    Scott Ian, American guitarist (Anthrax)
  • 1964
    Michael McDonald, American actor-comedian
  • 1965
    Gong Li, Chinese actress
  • 1965
    Julie Doucet, Canadian underground cartoonist
  • 1965
    Nicholas Sparks, American author
  • 1965
    Tony Dorigo, English footballer
  • 1966
    Lisa Joyner, American entertainment reporter
  • 1968
    Gerry Dee, Canadian comedian and actor
  • 1968
    Luciano Szafir, Brazilian actor
  • 1969
    Are Kalvø, Norwegian writer and satirist
  • 1969
    Dominik Diamond, Scottish presenter and newspaper columnist
  • 1969
    Lance Reddick, American actor
  • 1970
    Bryon Russell, American basketball player
  • 1970
    Carlos Morales Quintana, husband of Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark
  • 1970
    Danny McNamara, Lead singer of English band Embrace
  • 1970
    Jorjão, Brazilian footballer
  • 1971
    Brent Barry, American basketball player
  • 1971
    Esteban Loaiza, Mexican Major League Baseball player
  • 1972
    Joey McIntyre, American singer (New Kids on the Block)
  • 1973
    Crystal Knight, American pornographic actress and model
  • 1973
    Malcolm Middleton, Scottish musician (Arab Strap)
  • 1973
    Shandon Anderson, American basketball player
  • 1974
    Mario Aerts, Belgian cyclist
  • 1974
    Ryan Sakoda, Japanese American professional wrestler
  • 1974
    Tony Kanaan, Brazilian racing driver
  • 1975
    Rami Alanko, Finnish ice hockey player
  • 1975
    Rob Penders, Dutch footballer
  • 1975
    Sander Schutgens, Dutch runner
  • 1975
    Toni Kuivasto, Finnish footballer
  • 1976
    Craig Reucassel, Australian comedian, member of The Chaser
  • 1977
    Donald Trump Jr., son of Donald Trump and Ivana Trump
  • 1977
    Wardy Alfaro, Costa Rican footballer
  • 1978
    Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswomen
  • 1978
    Papoose, American rapper
  • 1979
    Elaine Cassidy, Irish actress
  • 1979
    Paul O'Neill, British racing driver
  • 1980
    Jesse Carlson, American baseball player
  • 1980
    Matthew Capiccioni, American professional wrestler
  • 1980
    Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby player
  • 1981
    Jason Campbell, American football player
  • 1982
    Bryce Avary, The Rocket Summer, American musician
  • 1982
    Craig Gordon, Scottish footballer
  • 1982
    Julio DePaula, Dominican baseball player
  • 1982
    Luke Schenscher, Australian basketball player
  • 1983
    Mariana Renata, French-Indonesian Actress
  • 1984
    Paul Rodriguez Jr., Professional skateboarder
  • 1985
    Jan Smit, Dutch singer
  • 1986
    Bronson Pelletier, Canadian actor
  • 1987
    Émilie Le Pennec, French gymnast
  • 1987
    Danny Holla, Dutch footballer
  • 1987
    Javaris Crittenton, American basketball player
  • 1990
    Patrick Chan, Canadian figure skater

Who Died On December 31?

  • 192
    Commodus, Roman Emperor (b. 161)
  • 335
    St. Silvester, Pope
  • 1164
    Margrave Ottokar III of Styria (b. 1124)
  • 1194
    Duke Leopold V of Austria (killed at a tournament) (b. 1157)
  • 1297
    Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, English soldier (b. 1249)
  • 1302
    Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1238)
  • 1384
    John Wycliffe, English theologian and Bible translator (b. circa 1328)
  • 1424
    Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, English military leader
  • 1460
    Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, English politician (b. 1400)
  • 1510
    Bianca Maria Sforza, wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1472)
  • 1535
    William Skeffington, Lord Deputy of Ireland (b. 1465)
  • 1568
    Shimazu Tadayoshi, Japanese warlord (b. 1493)
  • 1575
    Pierino Belli, Italian soldier and jurist (b. 1502)
  • 1583
    Thomas Erastus, Swiss theologian (b. 1524)
  • 1610
    Ludolph van Ceulen, German mathematician (b. 1540)
  • 1650
    Dorgon, Chinese emperor (b. 1612)
  • 1655
    Janusz Radziwiłł, Polish–Lithuanian noble and magnate (b. 1612)
  • 1673
    Oliver St John, English statesman and judge
  • 1679
    Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist and physicist (b. 1608)
  • 1691
    Dudley North, English economist (b. 1641)
  • 1719
    John Flamsteed, English astronomer (b. 1646)
  • 1742
    Karl III Philip, Elector Palatine (b. 1661)
  • 1799
    Jean-François Marmontel, French historian and writer (b. 1723)
  • 1872
    Aleksis Kivi, Finnish author (b. 1834)
  • 1876
    Catherine Labouré, French visionary and saint (b. 1806)
  • 1877
    Gustave Courbet, French painter (b. 1819)
  • 1888
    Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (b. 1808)
  • 1889
    Ion Creangă, Romanian writer (b.1837/39)
  • 1890
    Pancha Carrasco, Costa Rican war heroine (b. 1826)
  • 1891
    Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Nigerian bishop. (b. 1809)
  • 1894
    Thomas Joannes Stieltjes, Dutch mathematician (b. 1856)
  • 1905
    Alexander Popov, Russian physicist (b. 1859)
  • 1909
    Spencer Trask, American financier (b. 1844)
  • 1910
    Arch Hoxsey, American aviator (b. 1884)
  • 1910
    John Moisant, American aviator (b. 1868)
  • 1921
    Boies Penrose, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania (b. 1860)
  • 1936
    Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish writer and philosopher (b. 1864)
  • 1948
    Malcolm Campbell, English race car driver (b. 1885)
  • 1953
    Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer (b. 1889)
  • 1964
    Ólafur Thors, Prime Minister of Iceland (b. 1892)
  • 1964
    Bobby Byrne, baseball player (b. 1884)
  • 1969
    George Lewis, American clarinetist (b. 1900)
  • 1971
    Marin Sais, American actress (b. 1890)
  • 1971
    Pete Duel American actor (b. 1940)
  • 1971
    Vikram Sarabhai, Indian physicist (b. 1919)
  • 1972
    Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican baseball player (b. 1934)
  • 1977
    Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, ruler of Kuwait (b. 1924)
  • 1980
    Marshall McLuhan, Canadian writer (b. 1911)
  • 1980
    Raoul Walsh, American film director (b. 1887)
  • 1985
    Ricky Nelson, American singer (b. 1940)
  • 1986
    Lloyd Haynes, American actor (b. 1934)
  • 1986
    Raj Narain, Indian Politician (b. 1917)
  • 1987
    Jerry Turner, American television anchorman (b. 1929)
  • 1988
    Nicolas Calas, Greek-American poet and art critic (b. 1907)
  • 1990
    George Allen, American football coach (b. 1918)
  • 1990
    Vasili Lazarev, Soviet cosmonaut (b. 1928)
  • 1993
    Brandon Teena, American murder victim (b. 1972)
  • 1993
    Zviad Gamsakhurdia, first President of Georgia (b. 1939)
  • 1994
    Leigh Bowery, Australian-born English fashion performance artist (b. 1961)
  • 1994
    Woody Strode, American actor and decathlete (b. 1914)
  • 1997
    Billie Dove, American actress (b. 1903)
  • 1997
    Floyd Cramer, American musician (b. 1933)
  • 1997
    Michael Kennedy, American politician (b. 1958)
  • 1999
    Elliot Richardson, American politician (b. 1920)
  • 2000
    Alan Cranston, American politician (b. 1914)
  • 2000
    Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, Israeli leader of Kahane Chai party and son of Rabbi Meir Kahane (b. 1966)
  • 2000
    José Greco, Italian-born American flamenco dancer and choreographer (b. 1918)
  • 2001
    Eileen Heckart, American actress (b. 1919)
  • 2002
    Kevin Scott MacMichael, American guitarist (Cutting Crew) (b. 1951)
  • 2003
    Arthur R. von Hippel German-born physicist (b. 1898)
  • 2004
    Gerard Debreu, French economist, Bank of Sweden Prize laureate (b. 1921)
  • 2005
    Enrico di Giuseppe, American tenor (b. 1932)
  • 2005
    Phillip Whitehead, British politician (b. 1937)
  • 2006
    George Sisler, Jr., American baseball executive (b. 1917)
  • 2007
    Bill Idelson, American actor (b. 1919)
  • 2007
    Ettore Sottsass, Italian architect and designer (b. 1917)
  • 2007
    Kathryn Ish, American actress (b. 1936)
  • 2007
    Markku Peltola, Finnish actor and musician (b. 1956)
  • 2007
    Michael Goldberg, American painter (b. 1924)
  • 2007
    Milton L. Klein, Canadian politician (b. 1910)
  • 2007
    Tommy Dickson, British footballer (b. 1929)
  • 2007
    Tony Elliott, American football player (b. 1959)
  • 2008
    Donald E. Westlake, American author (b. 1933)

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