December 21 in Pop Culture History

December 21st History, Trivia, and Fun Facts

December 21st History Highlights

  • 1620 – The Pilgrims reached Plymouth.
  • 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the world’s first full-length animated feature, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre.
  • 1988 – Pan American Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Two hundred fifty-nine people on board the New York-bound Boeing 747 were killed, along with 11 people on the ground were killed.
  • 1970- Elvis Presley Met with US President Richard Nixon. The photograph of them shaking hands is the most requested reproduction from the US National Archives.
  • If you were born on December 21st,
    You were likely conceived the week of… March 29th (same year)

Elvis Meets With President Richard Nixon

On December 21, 1970, rock star Elvis Presley is greeted at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon. Presley’s visit was not just a social call: He wanted to meet Nixon in order to offer his services in the government’s war on drugs.

Elvis was convinced that he could help the government in its war on drugs, and during the meeting, he made his case to Nixon. He told Nixon that he had seen how drugs were tearing apart America’s youth, and he wanted to do something about it. Nixon apparently wasn’t interested in Elvis’ offer – after all, the president already had a team of people working on the war on drugs – but he didn’t reject it outright.

Despite not being able to convince Nixon to enlist him in the fight against drugs, Elvis’ visit to the White House was still a huge success. It generated headlines across the country, and everyone wanted to know what Elvis had said to the president. It was also one of Presley’s only interactions with a member of the president’s staff. They also took some photos together for posterity:

Elvis was very excited about his visit to the White House, but he didn’t think that it would result in any sort of job offer from President Nixon or anyone else.

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice falls on or around December 21st. On this day in the Northern Hemisphere, the earth is tilted away from the sun as far as it can get.
As the shortest day of the year and the absolute height of winter (astronomically speaking), the Solstice was an important ritual day in many ancient religions.

December 21st is…

Celebrate Short Fiction Day
Don’t Make Your Bed Day
Forefather’s Day
International Dalek Remembrance Day
National French Fried Shrimp Day
National Look on The Bright Side Day
National Short Story Day
Old Colony Day (Forefathers Day)
Ribbon Candy Day

Crossword Puzzle Day

Put on your thinking caps because December 21st is Crossword Puzzle Day! If you love to sit, with a cup of coffee on the table, pencil in hand, pondering clue after clue, you have Arthur Wynne to thank. 


Arthur created the first crossword puzzle for the New York World Newspaper on, you guessed it, December 21st in 1913. Wynne’s puzzle looked a bit different than the one you struggle with every day. His was diamond shaped and had no black squares, but the idea was the same. Originally it was published in the “Fun” section of the paper and was called “Fun’s Word-Cross Puzzle.” A few weeks later a typographical error transposed the title to “Cross-Word,” and the name stuck. 

People loved his puzzle and within 10 years, nearly every American newspaper featured a crossword puzzle. It has been a fan favorite ever since, sparking conversation, debate, and even a national tournament. In 1978, Will Shortz founded the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and still directs it even today. 2019 was a record-setting year with 741 total competitors, including more than 200 newbies. Even a computer named Dr. Fill competes!

Oddly enough, however, the tournament isn’t played in December. Instead, it is played in the Spring but since it’s played in Brooklyn, it only makes sense to play when everyone has thawed out from the winter.

The word to describe a crossword fan is cruciverbalist (say that ten times fast!) and there are a lot of them out there. An estimated 50 million people have made solving, or attempting to solve, the daily crossword puzzle a part of their life. This stands to reason as the New England Journal of Medicine has published a study showing that a person who regularly attempts to solve a crossword puzzle tends to show a slower decline in cognitive impairment.

How To Celebrate

As the winter solstice approaches and the days get shorter, do yourself a favor, and quite possibly your brain as well… pick up a copy of the paper and take the time to fill in the daily crossword. You just may become a cruciverbalist yourself!

December 21st Birthday Quotes

“If you’re a champion, you have to have it in your heart.”
– Chris Evert

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
– Frank Zappa

“All of us encounter, at least once in our life, some individual who utters words that make us think forever. There are men whose phrases are oracles; who condense in one sentence the secrets of life; who blurt out an aphorism that forms a character or illustrates an existence.”
– Benjamin Disraeli

“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
Joseph Stalin

“Conventional is not for me. I like things that are uniquely Flo. I like being different.”
– Florence Griffith Joyner

“Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.”
– Joseph Stalin

“Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”
– Joe Paterno

December 21st Birthdays

1401 – Masaccio, Italian painter (died in 1428)
1795 – Jack Russell, English dog breeder (died in 1883)
1804 – Benjamin Disraeli, politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (died in 1881)
1879 – Joseph Stalin, Russian politician (died in 1953)
1915 – Werner von Trapp, Austrian-American singer (died in 2007)
1922 – Paul Winchell, American actor, and ventriloquist (died in 2005)
1926 – Joe Paterno, American Penn State football coach (died in 2012)
1935 – Phil Donahue, American talk show host
1937 – Jane Fonda, American actress
1940 – Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (died in 1993)
1948 – Samuel L. Jackson, American actor
1953 – Betty Wright, American singer-songwriter
1954 – Chris Evert, American tennis player
1955 – Jane Kaczmarek, American actress
1959 – Florence Griffith Joyner, American sprinter (died in 1998)
1965 – Andy Dick, American comedian
1969 – Julie Delpy, French actress
1977 – Emmanuel Macron, French politician

December 21st History

William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims landed on (now known as Plymouth Rock) in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Arthur Wynne published his “word-cross,” the first crossword puzzle, in the New York World.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney’s first full-length (83 minutes) animated film, opened in Los Angeles, CA, at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

December 21, 1951, Birthday (fictional) Nick Fury, Marvel Cinematic Universe

Apollo 8 (December 21-27, 1968) Crew: Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders

Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley met at the White House. Elvis was there to help the government’s war on drugs.

#1 Hit December 21, 1974December 27, 1974: Harry ChapinCat’s in the Cradle

Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, better known as Carlos the Jackle, raided an OPEC meeting in Austria. Three people were killed in the attack.

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Birdy, Johnny Dangerously, and The Flamingo Kid debuted in theaters.

#1 Hit December 21, 1985January 17, 1986: Lionel RichieSay You, Say Me

Pope John Paul II announced the institution of ‘World Youth Day’.

Pan Am Flight 103 (London to New York) exploded in over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members aboard, and 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground. Libya admitted responsibility in 2003. “The Four Tops,” Tennis player Mats Wilander, Actress Kim Cattrall, and Punk Rocker Johnny Rotten booked but missed the flight.

The United States sent troops into Panama to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega. Noriega surrendered on January 3, 1990.

Richie Rich was released in theaters.

NeXT merged with Apple Computer.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius debuted in theaters.

A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, had a limited release; the film’s wide release was January 4, 2002.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and P.S. I Love You debuted in theaters.

December 21, 2012 – According to several conspiracy theories, the world was supposedly going to end.

#1 Hit December 21, 2013January 17, 2014: Eminem featuring RihannaThe Monster

#1 Hit December 21, 2019 – January 10, 2020: All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey 

Today’s Random Trivia and Shower Thoughts

Cheops’s Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

When an app asks me to rate it whilst I’m using it – I always select “ask me later” NOT “never” because I don’t want the app to hate me.

Minnie Mouse’s full name is Minerva Mouse.

Otis Day and the Knights, famous for the song Shout were a fictional band created for the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House.

“Quidquid praecipies, esto brevis. (Whatever advice you give, be brief.)” – Horace

“Warning, this show contains scenes of graphic stupidity among four lifelong friends who compete to embarrass each other. Viewer Discretion is advised.” – The Narrator

Willie the ‘Kool cigarettes’ penguin has a wife named Millie.

In the song 12 Days if Christmas the singer is gifted 184 birds in total.

The biggest film of 1923: The Covered Wagon earned ~ $3,800,000

Pragmatism – a word invented by C.S. Pierce, in 1875.

“The #1 movie in America was called ‘Ass’ And that’s all it was for 90 minutes. It won eight Oscars that year, including best screenplay.” #Idiocracy #moviequotes

A group of Spiders is called a Cluster or Clutter.

I used to freeze and be vewwy quiet when I heard an unexpected knock on the door. Now I get excited to see what surprise the Amazon delivery man brings me.

“Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.” – Mark Twain

More Pop Culture History Resources