TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1600, the British East India Company was chartered.
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill admitting West Virginia into the United States.
In 1879, Thomas Edison staged the first public demonstration of the electric lightbulb.
In 1999, the United States handed over complete control of the Panama Canal to Panama.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Henri Matisse (1869-1954), artist; Elizabeth Arden (1878-1966), businesswoman; George C. Marshall (1880-1959), U.S. military commander/diplomat; Anthony Hopkins (1937- ), actor; John Denver (1943-1997), singer-songwriter; Ben Kingsley (1943- ), actor; Diane von Furstenberg (1946- ), fashion designer; Donna Summer (1948-2012), singer; Bebe Neuwirth (1958- ), actress; Val Kilmer (1959- ), actor; Lance Reddick (1962- ), actor; Nicholas Sparks (1965- ), writer; Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas (1995- ), gymnast.
TODAY'S FACT: West Virginia, a new state created from Virginia counties that chose not to secede from the Union, was originally named Kanawha, after the Kanawha River.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1967, Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers defeated Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game, 21-17, in subzero weather. The game became known as the "Ice Bowl." Green Bay went on to defeat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you've known forever don't see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on." -- Nicholas Sparks, "True Believer"
TODAY'S NUMBER: 3,987 -- length in miles of the border between Canada and the lower 48 states.
TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (Dec. 25) and first quarter moon (Jan. 2).