Christmas in America

About Christmas traditions…

Let us go back to around 280 A.D. to what is known today as Turkey.    A baby was born and given the name of Nicholas.  He was to become a kindhearted and generous monk; we remember him as St. Nicholas.   His popularity persisted even through the Protestant Reformation, and his feast day is celebrated every December 6, the anniversary of his death.

Dutch families introduced America to St. Nicholas in 1773 and 1774 when they paid homage to him on December 6.  Thirty years later, in 1804, wood carvings of St. Nicholas showed stockings filled with fruit and toys suspended from a fireplace.

Gift-giving in the early 1800s was focused on children.   In 1820, stores promoted their merchandise for Christmas-giving.  In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore gave us the modern notion of a jolly Santa Claus, with a way of flying from house to house and descending through the chimney with a bag filled with toys.

By 1840, images of Santa Claus appeared in newspapers’ advertisements for Christmas shopping.  A Philadelphia store, in 1841, drew thousands of parents and children with a life-size Santa Claus.  Of course, it was not long before the “real” Santa Claus made an appearance at stores.

Holidays present an opportunity for sharing family traditions and memories.  It is a good time to ask parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, about their memories and celebrations.  



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