A Prediction of Christmas Future from 1896

A Prediction of Christmas Future from 1896

In preparing for another episode of the Merry Podcast I came across an editorial from a New York newspaper published in 1896. It contains an amazing prediction of Christmas-yet-to-come. It is interesting to contemplate this being written considering how Christmas was celebrated in 1896 in America. By the end of the 19th century Christmas had become the near all-encompassing celebration it is today of all things seasonally sacred and secular. Then, like now, nobody could escape it. It was embedded everywhere. But it is safe to say that it was still a different Christmas than what we see now. ThereRead more

Christmas at Valley Forge

Christmas at Valley Forge

Picture it: George Washington leads his army of 11,000 men – a third of which he estimated did not even have shoes – into Valley Forge just before Christmas 1777. There, just days before Christmas on the 19th of December, the Continental Army and George Washington himself would find a way to reverse the course of the war. That Christmas was just the beginning of both an incredible tale of survival and redemption. Valley Forge was so named thanks to an iron forge owned by a family named Potts. It had been in their family for years. Washington selected theRead more

The History of Pumpkin and Christmas

The History of Pumpkin and Christmas

When it comes to Christmas the United States can lay claim to few traditional elements of the season. Christmas trees came from Germany, Santa Claus came from Turkey, while Christmas pudding, eggnog and mistletoe all came from various places in Europe. America just adopted them all. Except for pumpkin. Pumpkin is one of America’s greatest contributions to Christmas. Wait, you say – pumpkin has nothing to do with Christmas in America? Well, hold on there, pilgrim. The pumpkin was, from the very beginning, a festive element in the Puritan Christmas. Wait, again, you say – the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas,Read more

Mourning Dickens and Recognizing Christmas

Mourning Dickens and Recognizing Christmas

June of 1870 is a month of incredible Christmas history. It was during this month that the Congress of the United States passed a blandly worded law making Christmas a legal national holiday and it was the time that the world mourned the passing of Charles Dickens. Christmas in America was an ancient tradition. Contrary to many modern historians and popular culture that tells us Christmas was a secular invention of the middle part of the 19th century, it is a well- documented  fact that Christmas was celebrated in America from the very beginning. What was the first thing ColumbusRead more

History of Leon Day

History of Leon Day

Look out folks – it is almost Leon Day. It is, by all accounts, an obscure day to many. But Leon Day is now coming out of the shadows. Literally millions mark the day now. The 25th of June – previously unremarkable in every way – is a huge day on the calendar for anyone who considers themselves a true fan of Christmas: it is Leon Day. Leon is Noel, spelled backwards. Leon Day marks the exact halfway point to Christmas. Leon Day is a Christmas phenomenon born of Christmas socializing online. Long before the advent of Facebook and otherRead more

A Christmas Story of 1887

A Christmas Story of 1887

Editor’s Note: This Christmas story originally appeared in a Columbus, Ohio newspaper on December 24th, 1887. It was subtitled ‘As Compared to the Ordinary Christmas Day’. It is shared here in its complete form, with punctuation, spelling and vocabulary exactly as it was printed in the original. Such humorous stories were very common in local newspapers of the era. What was funny then is just as funny now. For more about Christmas of the 19th century, take a listen to the latest episode of the Merry Podcast. It was the 24th of December; from a force of circumstances that renderRead more

The Real History of Christmas Ornaments

The Real History of Christmas Ornaments

The humble Christmas ornament rarely gets much thought for its significance and purpose. For many the Christmas ornament is merely decorative, a simple environmental adornment of the season. Most can look at an ornament and see it as nothing really special. Like nearly all things Christmas the history of Christmas ornaments is glossed over by historians and peddlers of merchandise. At Hallmark, who makes millions from sales of specialty ornaments annually, they can only say “For many people, decorating their home and Christmas trees with ornaments is one of the most enjoyable ways to capture the magic and excitement ofRead more

History of Christmas in July

History of Christmas in July

The modern image of Christmas is locked in as a season covered in snow, ice and frosty images of evergreens. Ironically, the actual setting for Christmas should take place in the dry desert heat. Christ, after all, was not born on December 25th. Historians usually place His birth in the Spring. The seasonality of St. Nicholas bears explaining as well. Historically Nicholas of Myra was a year-round figure, placed in not-so-frosty like places in the Middle East. How he came to wear red is easily explained but how he took to sleighs and snowmen is a bit more complicated. ButRead more

Understand Easter to Understand Christmas

Understand Easter to Understand Christmas

In a world growing more secular by the day there seems to be a serious decline in the understanding of what makes Easter so significant. A quick Google search about the “facts” of Easter reveals stunning statistics on how many chocolate eggs are consumed, how much fake grass is purchased and how many dollars are spent on baskets and bunnies. But hiding behind the commercialized accounting of Easter are real disturbing numbers about Easter itself. A 2014 survey by the Bible Society reveals that only one in four school-aged children can explain Easter. In fact, 71 percent of parents withRead more

Tale of a Presidential Christmas Tree

Tale of a Presidential Christmas Tree

Christmas in 1902 was celebrated much as it is today. But the centerpiece of it all was the Christmas tree. Christmas trees were not always part of the American Christmas tradition. Christmas in America is well documented for decades before the American Revolution but Christmas trees did not enjoy wide spread popularity until well after the Civil War. Like many popular icons of the 19th century Christmas the tree was made popular by British Royals, who publicized their use of a Christmas tree indoors. German immigrants to the US brought their Christmas tree traditions with them but once magazines publishedRead more