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Robert Burns' birthday

Scottish poet Robert Burns is born on this day in 1759. The day is still celebrated by Burns fans across the English-speaking world, with high-spirited "Robert Burns Night" feasts, featuring haggis and other Scottish delicacies, as well as enthusiastic drinking, toasting, and speechmaking. Perhaps more famous for his lively lyrics in the Scottish dialect than for his longer, more literary poems, Burns is still beloved and celebrated today as the author of the New Year's anthem, "For Auld Lang Syne."

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World's largest diamond found

On this day in 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the "Cullinan," it was the largest diamond ever found. Frederick Wells was 18 feet below the earth's surface when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall just above him. His discovery w... Read more >

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First Winter Olympics

Winter sports take off in style as the first Winter Olympiad is staged in Chamonix, France. The previously unknown sport of ski jumping thrilled spectators, as did 12 other events involving a total of six sports. Sixteen nations were represented by 281 men and 13 women. The Olympics offered a particular boost to skiing, a sport which made enormous strides within the next decade. At Chamonix, Sc... Read more >

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Mao's widow sentenced to death

Jiang Qing, the widow of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, is sentenced to death for her "counter-revolutionary crimes" during the Cultural Revolution. Her marriage to Mao in 1939 was widely criticized, as his second wife, Ho Zizhen, was a celebrated veteran of the Long March who Mao had divorced while she lay languishing in a Moscow hospital. In 1966, Mao made her first deputy head of the Cultural Re... Read more >