Christmas Eve Through History Nail Art


Keen to do something a little different this past Christmas, I put out a Tweet asking for festive nail art design requests from my followers. I wanted to produce something a little more unique and intriguing than the usual parade of snowflake and snowman nails that I trot out every year. Fortunately, Twitter did not disappoint. One suggestion in particular caught my eye, from local photographer John Shinnick. 

Shinnick had pointed me in the direction of the famous Earthrise photograph, taken on the 24th December 1968. His suggestion quickly got the history nerd in me excited. Why not do a bit of research into other famous events that occured on Christmas Eve throughout history and paint a festive #OnThisDay?

Here’s what I uncovered.

Christmas Eve Through History Nail Art Design Explained

Thumb: Cardinal Thomas Wolsey appointed Lord Chancellor

On 24th December 1515, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was appointed Lord Chancellor of England by King Henry VIII. This was a significant stage in his meteoric rise to the top of Henry VIII’s court, having been made Archbishop of York and then a cardinal the year before. As Lord Chancellor, Wolsey wielded immense influence over the direction of England’s foreign policy. For example, it was he who arranged for Henry VIII to meet the King of France, Francis I, at the infamous Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, an incredible display of wealth and culture from both countries. If you’re interested in learning about this rather ostentatious event, I highly recommend The Field of the Cloth of Gold episode from BBC’s In Our Time.

Wolsey’s eventual downfall came 15 years after his appointment when he was accused of treason. Having failed in his task to secure a papal annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he faced fierce opposition from the supporters of Anne Boleyn. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died on the 29th November 1530, en route to his trial.



Index: First Radioactive Isotope Medicine

On 24th December 1936, radiation was used for the very first time to treat a patient. Ernest Lawrence used the radioactive isotope phosphorus-32 to treat a young woman suffering from leukemia, at the Donner Laboratory in Berkeley, California. This marked the beginning of using radiation therapy within medicine and the emergence of the field of radiology. Lawrence would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics.

giphy (radioactive)

Middle: Signing Of The Treaty Of Ghent

On 24th December 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed by both the United States of America and Great Britain, marking the end of the War of 1812. The Belgian city of Ghent was chosen for its relatively neutral location. In essence, the treaty states that the possession of conquered territories should return to their pre-war state.

Britain opened negotiations proposing harsh terms, looking to leverage the fact that the end of the Napoleonic Wars had freed up great numbers of British troops. However, weariness of war and significant economic impact meant there was also a great desire for a quick peace. Subsequently, Britain agreed to the US’ draft treaty with only a few amendments. All conquered territories were to be returned and each side agreed to cease hostilities towards the First Nations. Furthermore, a commission was created to settle the issue of the Canadian border. 


Ring: Taking Of The Earthrise Photograph

On 24th December 1986, astronaut William Anders took the now iconic photograph of Earth as his Apollo 8 spacecraft rounded the dark side of the moon. Once back on earth, the film was developed and Life magazine printed it as a double page spread. Accompanying the image was the following poem by James Dickey:

And behold

The blue planet steeped in its dream

Of reality, its calculated vision shaking with the only love

The Earthrise image has since been described as one of the most influential environmental photographs ever taken, and Joni Mitchell made reference to the event in the lyrics of ‘Refuge of the Roads’. In 1969, it was featured in full colour on a US Postal Service stamp. 


Little: First Number Plate Issued In England

Christmas Eve 1903 was the day the first ever number plate was issued in England, a simple ‘A1’. The recipient was Earl Russell, who actually sent his butler to queue overnight at the London City Council to ensure that he would be the first. Number plates became mandatory under the government’s Motor Car Act. Needless to say, the ‘A1’ number plate is now a heavily sought after item and is currently owned by a member of the Sultan of Brunei’s family. 


Nail Polishes Used:


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