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Top 10 Saddest Christmases in History

Everyone hates mourning and worst of it on a Christmas, but nature and human evil have made some Christmases too sad to be celebrated. Christmas is the world’s most celebrated holiday shared by more than half of humanity. The expenditure around the world on Christmas also surpasses any other holiday making this the happiest time for the whole world. While making the world happy, this time of the year is considered a time of love, peace, and happiness. However, these 10 Christmases were a different story altogether; they came with events that tasted humanity creating the worst memories of this sweet day.

1. The Death of Charlie Chaplin – 1977

Everyone enjoys laughing with family, and there is no better time to do this than Christmas, and nothing does it better than a Charlie Chaplin film. All of Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies still make families happy long after his death. However, this funny man made the world sad by dying silently in his sleep on a Christmas in 1977. He was 88 years old having lived a full life and put a smile on many generations, but his death still makes people sad.[1]

Charles Spenser Chaplin was a gift to film, and he changed the world through his life and work. He is still remembered as one of the funniest men in history. He left a strong mark to all generations even as the industry advanced. Chaplin love has lasted long after his death saving many sad people. After entertaining the world for so many years, he left us to remember his death every time we commemorate the birth of Jesus.[2]

2. The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa – 2014

The deadliest Ebola attack came just as the world was preparing for Christmas. When the fear of shaking hands, not even a hug, is shared by the whole continent in fear of death, celebrating yuletide becomes impossible. Christmas is one of the biggest holidays in West Africa, but in 2014, there were too many deaths, trauma, and pain to celebrate. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea saw the worst of this monster in 2014.

The virus killed more than 10,000 people in 4 countries forcing a lockdown to prevent its spread.[3] With no flights and travel advisories from almost every nation, Christmas became the last thing these people needed. To prevent further infections, the Sierra Leonian government banned Christmas celebrations. The other countries had already declared a state of emergency, and there was no way anyone would go out to shop for gifts or party with friends. It simply became an Ebola Christmas.[4]

3. The Death of James Brown – 2006

The twentieth-century music icons had so much to contribute to our modern Christmas celebrations, and James Brown did that his whole life. He became the symbol of peace to the highly tense century by spreading love across races. His 17th album in 1966 exclusively dedicated to Christmas with top hits still bring Christmases to life every year. All these songs and his whole work light up our Christmases decades after his death. He was the father of Christmas before he became the Godfather of Soul.

“Let’s make Christmas mean something this year,” is one of the greatest Christmas hits of all time. James Brown, aka Godfather of soul music, left the world on one of the days he adored the most. His art made the world happy every Christmas especially with his messages of peace and love at the peak of racial tensions in America. James Brown is also one of the greatest rags to riches stories in the music industry. His work was loved all over the world making his death on a Christmas even sadder.[5]

4. Berlin Market Attack – 2016

Terror groups target vulnerable points in security and large gatherings for more casualties making them the greatest threat to Christmas. An attack in Europe had been expected for many years since the threat by ISIS, but when it finally came on Germany, it was the time when no one expected it, Christmas. The end of Advent and the start of Christmas are the most celebrated days in Europe. The 2016 Christmas, however, brought one of the saddest Christmases in European history. Anis Amri, a Tunisian immigrant, shot the driver of a truck and drove it straight through a Christmas market in Breitscheidplatz, Berlin causing 12 fatalities with 52 people escaping with injuries.[6]

The impact worsened when the gruesome video went viral showing images that shocked the whole world. Isis also released a video of Amri taking an oath and threats of more attacks which went viral bringing Europe’s Christmas celebrations to a halt. There was the threat of terror attacks in almost every European capital. Tightened security and curfews became the order of Christmas forcing people to weep with the bereaved and stay at home instead of decorating trees and sharing the joy of Jesus’ birth.[7]

5. DR Congo Christmas Massacres – 2008

One of East and Central Africa’s saddest Christmases was brought by a group of terrorists which was coincidentally being led by a former altar boy Joseph Kony. Christmas is the time of peace for all Christians, but most people in DRC, parts of South Sudan and Uganda stopped gathering for the feast in fear of being used as LRA target practice. Joseph Kony’s Lord’s resistance army had been crashed from Dec 14th, 2008 in Uganda forcing it to split into small groups.

In a retaliatory attack on the Congolese government, the troops descended on the villagers in the border regions killing 620 people gathering for feasts after church on Christmas. The cult’s fighters which perform a sign of the cross before killing their victims walked from village to village killing people from Christmas Eve to December 27th spreading fear across the continent. The intervention of the army supported by US troops came too late, the terror of the terrorist group left a devastated continent and a sad world that Christmas.[8]

6. The Calumet Massacre – 1913

Children celebrate Christmas innocently expecting love from everyone, but Michigan’s saddest Christmas party is the literal expression of human cruelty. Children in the mining families had a hard life and Christmas was the happiest day of the year for them. They took this opportunity to get all the possible joy from this day. However, 1913 marked the saddest day for Michigan when a happy Christmas Eve party in the Calumet Italian hall turned to a stampede killing 52 children. The party brought together over 500 children from all over the town, and most of them were from mining families.[9]

There was hardly any food in most homes after a 6-month labor strike by the miners and the town was starved. A Christmas party was a big relief for most people and a chance to get a gift after a long, sad year. The town was torn between two groups, a pro miners’ rights strike group and an antistrike group; the children were just caught in the crossfire. Someone shouted “FIRE” causing the stampede that resulted in the death of 73 people. There was no fire, and the culprit was never identified, but the pain was unimaginable. It is mostly believed that the mining companies were hitting back at the miners for the strike.[10]

7. The Tangiwai Train Wreck – 1971

New Zealand celebrates Christmas in style. Everyone comes home to light up the experience making the Christmas eve train one of the favorite trips for many. Disaster struck on the eve of the 1971 Christmas when a volcanic eruption caused the wall on Mount Ruapehu crater lake to break causing Tangiwai river to flood. The rushing water carried death from the mountain with rocks and tree stumps at almost every inch breaking everything in its way including the bridge.[11]

As the Auckland night train approached, there was no warning of the dangers posed by the bridge that had taken a big blow. The cars plunged into the flood waters carrying away the travelers and the whole nation’s Christmas joy with it. Of the 285 people on the train, only 131 survived. In a country with a population of 2 million people at the time, there was sorrow in almost every family. Thi was NZ’s worst ever railway accident and the country’s worst ever Christmas.[12]

8. Invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Army – 1979

While the 1914 Christmas truce is celebrated for saving lives in world war I, 1979 Christmastime is remembered as the beginning another one of the worst wars in human history. Afghanistan is one of the few nations in the world that have never known peace and this day was the beginning of her greatest troubles. Over 110, 000 Afghans died fighting the Soviet red army, and the country never recovered from this war. On this day the Soviet Union moved more than 100,000 troops into Afghanistan forcing a tense Christmas on the whole world.

The US and other allies combined forces to condemn this war, but peace would not be seen until a decade later. At the peak of the cold war and a high communist resistance in the middle east, the only way this army would get acceptance in Afghanistan was through a bloodbath. The stakes were too high considering the large population of anticommunist Muslims that had no way to defend themselves against the ruthless red army. Many years later, this Christmas is still remembered as the war cried Christmas when the whole world came together to stand with Afghanistan.[13]

9. Air France Flight 8969 Hijacking – 1994

If the marines from the French GIG unit had not saved the day, France’s 911 would be commemorated every Christmas. Four armed terrorists from the Armed Islamic group in Algeria hijacked the flight and with it, that year’s Christmas. The four men masquerading as Algerian presidential police boarded the plane with guns and explosives before it left the runway on Dec 24th. The authorities would later find out and prevent the aircraft from taking off in an attempt to thwart the terrorists’ ambition of launching a passenger plane as a missile in the heart of Paris.

The terrorists would not negotiate, they resorted to killing passengers one by one in the 36-hour standoff that saw the passengers traumatized for over 24 hours on the runway.[14] Meanwhile, the whole of France and the countries that lay in that plane’s possible route were on alert fearing for the fate of the 170 passengers left on board and the explosives carried by the terrorists. No one could celebrate Christmas with the fear of a burning plane crashing down on the city. The 36-hour-long scare was finally handled by French marines in Marseille where the plane had to stop for fuel after the reserves were depleted on the runway during the stalemate.[15]

10. The Deadly Boxing Day Tsunami – 2004

Christmastime festivities are never complete for most people until you enjoy boxing day and all that comes with it. Dec 26th, 2004 turned that year’s Christmas holidays into the saddest Christmases in history cutting short the joy of the world with 230,000 fatalities. This day changed the world turning Christmas into one of the darkest memories for millions of people. There was no coming back from this for most people, but life had to move on, and so does Christmas.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake sent the Indian ocean waters rushing offshore causing a deadly wall of water to hit East Asia with Indonesia taking the most massive blow.[16] The fatalities included many tourists and locals who were enjoying their holidays in Asia and parts of East Africa. The Authorities had no time to warn and evacuate people leaving the world on holiday to its fate. The tsunami was so strong that its effects were felt in East Africa causing deaths in some countries there as well.[17]

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