Christmas Tradition Is That of Change ; How Jesus Birth Has Been Celebrated through the Years

By Blevins, Ernest | Charleston Gazette Mail, December 24, 2016 | Go to article overview

Christmas Tradition Is That of Change ; How Jesus Birth Has Been Celebrated through the Years


Blevins, Ernest, Charleston Gazette Mail


Over the history of the American colonies to the modern United States, Christmas has changed over the centuries. The Pilgrims are well known for the Thanksgiving tradition, but what of their Christmas tradition? One contention in the colony was the Pilgrims did not observe Christmas while the non-Puritans, did. In one incident, Gov. William Bradford relented and let the non-Puritans have a holiday while the Pilgrims worked the fields on the outskirts of the settlement.

Upon their return, the Pilgrims were upset that not only did others take the day off, but they were playing games.

North of Plymouth, the Puritans in Boston outlawed the holiday from 1659 to 1681.

The first Christmas trees came with the Hessians, but the tradition did not stick until German settlement of Pennsylvania in the 1820s.

Although set in mid-19th century Victorian England, Charles Dickens Ebenezer Scrooge character was typical working on Christmas, even in the United States. In 1789, 1797 and 1802, Congress was in session on Christmas Day. Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a holiday in 1836.

Nationally, Christmas was declared an official holiday, along with New Years Day and Independence Day, on June 26, 1870, under President Ulysses S. Grant.

The Germans brought the Christmas tree tradition as they migrated to the United States. In 1848, a picture of the Christmas tree of Englands Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert was published in the United States. The tradition spread to the general population. Originally, trees were lit using candles.

The first Christmas lights came from Thomas Edison, who strung several of his new light bulbs together. In 1880, Edison decorated his Menlo Laboratory in New Jersey. Train riders passing the lab were awed by the display. It was not until the 1920s did the electric light display become popular, possibly in part from President Calvin Coolidge lighting the first National Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve 1923.

Conflicting evidence cites President Franklin Pierce with the first White House Christmas tree in the 1850s. Other information credits President Benjamin Harrison in the late 1880s. …

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