What Happened on December 8?

  • Pope Paul VI promulgated Vatican II into ecumenical law. (1965) The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, made a number of changes to Catholic practices, including the liturgy, the use of film and other multimedia, and the way in which other non-Catholic churches were viewed.

  • NAFTA was signed into law. (1993) US President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law on this day, virtually eliminating tariffs between the US, Mexico and Canada, and creating the world's largest free-trade zone.

  • US President Ronald Reagan and USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (1987) This was the first treaty that required both nations to reduce the size of their land-based nuclear stockpiles.

  • John Lennon was killed by a deranged fan. (1980) Former Beatle and long-time activist John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment building in New York City by Mark David Chapman.

  • The Race Relations Act came into effect in Britain. (1965) The act made it a civil offense to discriminate against someone for their "color, race, or ethnic or national origins". The law only applied to public situations, and excluded discrimination in terms of employment or housing. It was later revised to include these areas in 1968.

  • The coaxial cable was patented. (1931) This type of cable was revolutionary at the time because it greatly reduced the interference in telecommunications. Without the coaxial cable, telephones and cable TV would have been impossible.

  • Pope Pius IX declared the Catholic dogma of immaculate conception. (1854) This dogma, stating that the Virgin Mary possessed a "sanctifying grace" at her birth, and therefore did not have original sin.

  • The second public library in Europe opened. (1609) The Biblioteca Ambrosiana opened its reading room on this day, making it the second public library in Europe, after the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

  • The Broadway Theater started showing musicals. (1930) It's first show was The New Yorkers, by Cole Porter. Though The Broadway Theater has gone through a few incarnations since it began showing musicals in 1930 — for a brief time, as the Cine Roma, it showed only Italian films — but it has since become one of the most famous theaters in the world.

  • The first television acknowledgement of pregnancy was made. (1952) CBS's I Love Lucy was the first show to make an acknowledgement of pregnancy in its December 8 episode "Lucy is Enceinte," though CBS executives did not allow the cast members to use the word pregnant. Instead, they could only use the word "expecting."

Discussion Comments


A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to New York City and see Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I had no idea that it served as a memorial for John Lennon until I got there, but supposedly it is in sight of where he was murdered.

When I was there they had a beautiful display of flowers in the shape of a peace sign over the mosaic in the ground that spells out "imagine".

It's lovely and simple and it has an element of interaction with the public (who must be the ones who provide the flowers).

I just love it and it was a very suitable expression of love for a very special and much missed man.


@bythewell - It also shows how far the world has come, even in a few decades, by looking at the I Love Lucy event. I mean, I can't even imagine a show hesitating to mention that a character is pregnant now and they'll go much further than that.

The fact that so recently it was such a big deal that they wouldn't even let the characters say "pregnancy" seems very strange. I mean, it was a thing that had happened to every biological mother in the world at that point, which essentially means half the population. I'm glad we don't live in such a repressed state now.


Wow I had no idea that December 14 was such an important day. I particularly like the idea that it's when one of the first public libraries in Europe was opened. We take libraries so much for granted now, but I've always considered them to be one of the things that gives me hope about humanity.

I mean, really, having a library in your community is going to have run on benefits for everyone there, even if they don't use it themselves. But, I don't think many people think about it that hard.

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