Christmas History

Christmas history is much older than you think. It is older than Santa Claus, Christmas trees or even the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

Christmas history stretches from society to society, from culture to culture. It is amazing to see how many of the icons of the season pop up in the ancient history of civilizations all over the world.

In this merry section of MMC we dive deep into the stories of Christmas and explain how the modern elements of Christmas celebration came to be. Many of these are histories unknown to those who just do things because tradition dictates it.

Introducing The Christmas Hall of Fame

Over the years we have openly mused in dicussion on the Merry Forums — who would we put in a Christmas Hall of Fame? We no longer need to wonder about that question. We can now do something about it. We can approach all the great debates of Christmas and settle them: Who played the […]

The Christ Child

A new minimalist short film has been released depicting the birth of Christ in a more Biblical way. The Nativity story has been so romanticized in film, song and the written word for so long it is refreshing to see the story set back in a more original context. The result is a richly human […]

Christmas 1945: The Biggest Celebration of Christmas Ever

As peace broke out in 1945 a literal race began to get the world at war back home for Christmas. Historians have called the Christmas of 1945 the biggest celebration of Christmas ever. In the below edition of the Merry Little Podcast we discuss how the years of 1941-1944 changed Christmas. It was an unprecedented […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

History of the Tradition of Elves

Lost in the romance, fantasy and some would say mystery and myth of Christmas is the concept of elves. Most folks today think of Santa’s helpers, often in the form of little people, who work at the North Pole busily making toys for good children everywhere. But elves in that vein are a relative recent […]

Santa Claus of the 19th Century

While Christmas in America predates the American Revolution Santa Claus did not make a splash in America until 1810. He arrived, as many Americans do, in New York City. Local merchant and leader of a local historical society by the name of John Pintard objected to the roughness of Christmas as it was celebrated in […]