The holiday season can raise up some serious emotions in people. And when serious emotions get raised up, people tend to riot. In this feature, we’ll run down ten insane riots that happened around the Christmas season. Whether it be shopping driving people to violence or just holiday revels gone disastrously wrong, these are the 10 craziest Christmas riots.
The Eggnog Riot, 1826
In olden times, eggnog wasn’t just a cloying dairy treat. It was made with tons of booze. When a number of West Point cadets got busted in 1826 trying to smuggle whiskey back to the school, it set off an insane riot that lasted until Christmas.
After a party in one of the dormitories got shut down by the faculty, between fifty and ninety students engaged in open revolt against the school, drunkenly smashing windows and shooting off guns before sobering up. Needless to say, tons of disciplinary action was taken against the regretful, hung-over cadets.
Bondi Beach Riots, 1995
The traditional Christmas party held on Australia’s Bondi Beach is an excuse for Aussies to cut loose after the holidays, but in 1995 revelers took things a little too far. Cops came to calm the party down on Christmas Day after more than 20,000 people hit the beach, starting bonfires and drinking heavily.
When fights started, the police were unable to contain the violence and the crowd quickly turned on innocent bystanders, throwing rocks and bottles at police. The swarming mass even tried to flip over a tour bus before the crowds were cleared, leaving behind thousands of dollars of property damage and tons of garbage.
Indian Christmas Riots, 2007
It can often be tough when a new religion tries to get a foothold in foreign territory, especially when that religion has a celebration as public as Christmas. In the state of Orissa in eastern India, 2007 saw a week-long spate of violence when locals got very pissed off about Santa Claus.
The riot began when the local Hindu association alleged that Christians (who are a small minority in India) had vandalized three of their temples. Whether the accusations were true or not, it set off a senseless orgy of destruction that included the burning of a dozen churches and at least one fatality.
Mexican Prison Riot, 1988
Christmas is often the time of year when families reunite with each other, and visits to prisons go way up during the holiday season. That was the case on December 20, 1988 in the Mexican Nayarin State Penitentiary in the city of Tepic. Unfortunately, an armed escape attempt by six men transformed the tranquil holiday visit into a hostage situation and riot that would leave dozens dead.
With 273 adults and almost as many children trapped inside, the convicts started trashing the place and demanding armored cars and weapons. Police managed to free the hostages on December 21st, but the violence continued until Mexico’s elite SWAT unit breached the gates and opened up on the rioters with machine guns, leaving 35 dead. Merry Christmas!
Augustus Street Riot, 1806
People who think New York was dangerous in the 70s obviously never visited the Big Apple in the early 1800s. Immigrants from many different lands came together to form the great melting pot that is America, but they sure didn’t get along too well. On Christmas Eve of 1806, an angry group of 50 men gathered outside of St. Peter’s Church with intentions of disrupting the Midnight Mass.
The alderman managed to disperse them, but they showed up again the next day to cause more trouble. Only this time the churchgoers had prepared themselves and were armed and ready to kick serious ass. The resulting rumble spread over a quarter-mile of city streets and resulted in a policeman being stabbed to death trying to break it up.
Waffle Maker Riots, 2011
Black Friday has become one of the retail industry’s most feared days of the year. The day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas shopping season, and bargain hunters will go to insane ends to get their gifts cheap.
One of the most distressing outbreaks of Black Friday violence in recent years came at an Arkansas Wal-Mart holding a serious sale on… waffle makers. At just two dollars apiece, they were a great deal, but not great enough to inspire the horrific fisticuffs as desperate shoppers brutally beat each other down in their quest to get one.
Madison Square Garden Riot, 1979
Let’s mix things up a bit by throwing in a good old-fashioned hockey riot, shall we? The New York Rangers are widely known as a team that inspires some loyalty in their fans, as are the Boston Bruins. So when the two paired off on December 23, 1979, all Hell broke loose.
After the Rangers failed to convert a breakway at the game’s end, the two teams started fighting on the ice. When a fan reached over the glass and whapped Bruin player Stan Jonathan with his program, the brawl spread into the crowd, with almost the entire team wading into the fray and decking fans willy-nilly, including Mike Milbury of the Bruins beating down the fan with a shoe he found.
Air Jordan Riots, 2011
Every year, Nike puts out a retro-styled Air Jordan just before Christmas. And every year, people go completely insane over the shoes and break the law. 2011 was probably the worst example, as the Jordan XI dropped on December 23rd and turned the holiday season into an orgy of violence.
Crazed shoppers tried to break down mall doors in California, police had to subdue shoppers with pepper spray in Seattle, and four people were arrested in Georgia, including a woman who left her two kids alone in the car so she could join the fracas and grab a pair of shoes.
Greek Election Riots, 2008
When you have a country with an economy on the verge of collapse, Christmas can seem like a cruel joke. Case in point: Greece in 2008. When a policeman killed a 15 year old boy in early December, thousands of citizens hit the streets for a week-long orgy of destruction that called the world’s attention to the corruption scandals and general mismanagement of the Conservative government. In Athens, hordes of angry youth decimated streets, even setting fire to the city’s huge Christmas tree. Hundreds of stores were looted and police stations were attacked with firebombs. Santa put a lot of names on his naughty list that year.
Next: Hilariously Awkward Holiday Photos
Cabbage Patch Kids Riot, 1983
One of the most common causes of a Christmas shopping riot is a hot new toy that everybody needs to have. Probably the apotheosis of this is the strange case of the Cabbage Patch Kids. In the early 80s, these lumpy-headed baby dolls were inexplicably the hottest toys on the block, with stores unable to keep them in stock for even a day.
When they did come in, shoppers lost their mind, On November 27th, 1983, a Zayre’s department store in Wilkes-Barre, PA hosted one of the worst shopping riots ever, as parents punched, shoved and abused each other in competition for the toys. Several limbs were broken and people even lost some teeth in the melee.