- 218 BC: Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia: Hannibal’s Carthaginian forces defeat those of the Roman Republic.
- 1271: Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China.
- 1499: A rebellion breaks out in Alpujarras in response to the forced conversions of Muslims in Spain.
- 1622: Portuguese forces score a military victory over the Kingdom of Kongo at the Battle of Mbumbi in present-day Angola.
- 1655: The Whitehall Conference ends with the determination that there was no law preventing Jews from re-entering England after the Edict of Expulsion of 1290.
- 1777: The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the American rebels over British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga in October.
- 1793: Surrender of the frigate La Lutine by French Royalists to Lord Samuel Hood; renamed HMS Lutine, she later becomes a famous treasure wreck.
- 1916: World War I: The Battle of Verdun ends when German forces under Chief of staff Erich von Falkenhayn are defeated by the French, and suffer 337,000 casualties.
- 1939: World War II: The Battle of the Heligoland Bight, the first major air battle of the war, takes place.
- 1944: World War II: Seventy-seven B-29 Superfortress and 200 other aircraft of US Fourteenth Air Force bomb Hankow, China, a Japanese supply base.
- 1972: Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on the 13th.
- 1981: First flight of the Russian heavy strategic bomber Tu-160, the world’s largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft and largest variable-sweep wing aircraft built.
- 2005: The Chadian Civil War begins when rebel groups, allegedly backed by neighbouring Sudan, launch an attack in Adré.
- 2018: List of bolides: A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea with a force over 10 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. On December 18, 2018 at 23:55 GMT.
- 1507: Ōuchi Yoshitaka, Japanese daimyō (d. 1551).
- 1662: James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry, Scottish colonel and politician, Secretary of State for Scotland (d. 1711).
- 1825: Charles Griffin, American general (d. 1876).
- 1873: Francis Burton Harrison, American general and politician, 6th Governor-General of the Philippines (d. 1957).
- 1878: Joseph Stalin, Georgian-Russian marshal and politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1953).
- 1896: Gerald Barry, British colonel and cricketer (d. 1977).
- 1912: Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American general and pilot (d. 2002).
- 1920: Robert Leckie, American soldier and author (d. 2001).
- 1922: Jack Brooks, American colonel, lawyer, and politician (d. 2012).
- 1923: Edwin Bramall, Baron Bramall, English field marshal and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London (d. 2019).
- 1934: Boris Volynov, Russian colonel, engineer, and astronaut.
- 1950: Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lankan general and politician.
- 1963: Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundian soldier and politician, President of Burundi.
- 1829: Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, French soldier, biologist, and academic (b. 1744).
- 1843: Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch, Scottish-English general and politician (b. 1748).
- 1919: John Alcock, English captain and pilot (b. 1892).
- 1980: Alexei Kosygin, Russian soldier and politician, 8th Premier of the Soviet Union (b. 1904).
- 1982: Hans-Ulrich Rudel, German colonel and pilot (b. 1916).
- 1998: Lev Dyomin, Russian colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1926).
- 2012: Mustafa Ould Salek, Mauritanian colonel and politician, President of Mauritania (b. 1936).
- 2014: Donald J. Albosta, American soldier and politician (b. 1925).
- 2014: Gideon Ben-Yisrael, Israeli soldier and politician (b. 1923).