Christmas HistoryChristmas NewsSacred 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 …
Christmas History

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 …
Christmas HistoryChristmas LegendsChristmas Traditions

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 invention, stemming from 19th century minds full of fantasy as the modern character of Santa …
Christmas History

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 the early 19th century and proposed a solution. Drawing on New York City’s Dutch origins, …
Christmas History

New England’s Flying Santa

In New England, home of hundreds of lighthouses and the families who worked them, there lived a man who in the early 1920s depended upon them in a different way. The emerging technology at the time was the industry of flight. As one of America’s first pilots, Bill Wincapaw was known around Penobscot Bay for his skill and bravery as a floatplane pilot. The hundreds, if not thousands of islands …
Christmas History

Christmas in the Crosshairs

The phrase “war on Christmas” has become so tiresome in the ongoing dialogue about Christmas that it tends to trigger instant eye-rolling disdain. The media attention to it all just makes one weary at the mere mention of it. Gerry Bowler’s new book, Christmas in the Crosshairs, settles rather emphatically the question of whether or not the modern “war on Christmas” is unique – or even worthy of all the …
Christmas HistoryChristmas Traditions

History of Christmas Greetings

Lazy historians typically date the advent of Christmas cards to the 1840s, a time when postal services in modern western societies were well established and became more affordable. The truth is that the sending of holiday greetings is centuries old. Commercial Christmas cards got their start in the UK in the 1840s, suspiciously around the same time as the explosion in popularity of all things Christmas — from trees to …
Christmas at WarChristmas History

Santa Claus at War

Christmas is a traditional season of peace but even Santa straps on the uniform of a soldier when called to duty. Over time Santa has been “enlisted” in the cause of one side or another in periods of war. Not surprisingly, most of the images of Santa associated with war are American and date from the 19th century forward. The earliest known connection between Santa and war has to be …
Christmas History

Christmas at Beacon Hill

A 1929 newspaper article from Boston tells the story of a boy named Alfred Shurtleff, who in 1893 began a tradition in his Boston neighborhood that reads a lot like the spirited Christmas enthusiasts of our day who festively decorate their homes with lights each season. What did Alfred do? On a snowy Christmas Eve Alfred lit a single candle and put it in the bedroom window of his home …
Christmas HistoryChristmas Traditions

History of the Christmas Countdown

The anticipation of Christmas is considered by many one of the great joys of the season. These days there are websites and social media groups dedicated to counting down days to Christmas and cable television channels have adopted a countdown to Christmas as a way to get all their new holiday content shown during the course of a season. Counting down to Christmas is a time-honored tradition. It is older …
Christmas History

Christmas with Lewis & Clark

The Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 to explore the lands acquired through the Louisiana Purchase. It began in St. Louis and traveled over the continental divide to the Pacific Ocean, gathering information and introducing the world to the wonders of the American West. Over roughly three years the Corps of Discovery saw things no American previously had and the recorded …
Christmas HistoryChristmas Traditions

Christmas Trains

For more than a century trains were the center piece of mass transportation. This time in culture also saw the rise of the industrial revolution and, as well, the media-driven mass popularity of the secular Christmas. The real connection of trains to Christmas was born of the fact that going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holidays was best accomplished by trains and it …
Christmas HistoryVintage Christmas

History of Christmas Villages

As far as Christmas goes, the city of Palm Springs, California is far removed from being a Christmas village. But for Dennis Lloyd his annual return for winter time in Palm Springs signals the beginning of Christmas. He just can’t wait to get there right after Halloween each year. In a large bedroom in the Lloyd home Dennis has painstakingly constructed a shimmering Christmas village made of porcelain buildings, molded …
Christmas HistoryChristmas Legends

Christmas at Sea

When thinking of Christmas at sea one immediately turns to the traditional carol “I Saw Three Ships”. The song, repeatedly made popular by interpretations in modern recording ranging from Sting to Amy Grant to traditional orchestras, is a happy tune dating back to the 17th century. But for all of its age and history, nobody really knows who wrote it or even what it entirely means. The lyrics have confounded …
Christmas History

History of Christmas Catalogs

The industrial revolution brought an explosion of new products in mass quantities to market. The ability of mass media – in the form of print, radio or telegram – to get the word out about such products influenced buyers around the world. The advent of catalog shopping, which utilized all those emerging trends and technologies, brought the marketplace to the consumer, just as the Internet does today. It comes as …