Celebration of Christmas by Annie Berger
The topic I chose was the Celebration of Christmas. Nowadays, about 92% of people celebrate Christmas. But, that wasn't always the case. People, especially New Englanders, didn't really take a part in this holiday until the second half of the nineteenth century.
In most religions today, we learn that we celebrate Christmas in honor of of Christ being born. We usually celebrate it on that specific day, December 25th. But, it wasn't always like that. In the 1880's, the timing of Christmas wasn't dependent of the birth of Christ. In fact, it was the celebrations that marked the winter solstice!
Most of the festivals celebrated before Christmas were considered boisterous celebrations. This meant that the celebrations were noisy, energetic, and cheerful. There were many of these and one of the categories of these celebrations were a kind of social inversion. An example of this, is that the rich was expected to share their money and belongings with the poor, and sometimes they did this to their own servants. As time went on, some of these celebrations became violent.
Santa Claus was invented in 1823 when "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published. "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is now know as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". Even though Santa Claus was invented in 1823, the first drawing of him wasn't published until 1863. This drawing was drawn by Thomas Nast and it was published in Harper's Weekly. Santa Claus was a big influence on child now and in the 1880's. People believe/believed that he would reward you based on how good you were in that past year.
By the 1880's Christmas was a well-known holiday, especially throughout New England. As you could tell, traveling back then wasn't very easy. But, some freeporters traveled to the "big city" to do their Christmas shopping. As people do now, they took Christmas very seriously.
Also, did you know that the first electric Christmas lights were invented in the 1880's? But, people usually lit their Christmas trees with small candles in this time frame. The first Christmas tree was in the White House decorated with toy soldiers and glass ornaments by Benjamin Harrison and his family.