Merry Christmas everyone! I pray your holiday season is peaceful and as we have the first online or Zoom Christmas.
Let’s look back in history to America when the 13 colonies had their first holiday season. As the settlers from Europe came to Virginia in 1607, Christmas was a sacred day to celebrate, while others treated the first Christmas like a regular workday. Not sure if the puritans were trying to get away from the Christian Roman Catholic traditions that started in 336 AD.
The first live nativity was in Italy in 1223 in order to cultivate worship of Christ, since then until now the birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas day is celebrated. According to historian Nancy Egloff, laws went on the books by 1631 that churches needed to build their own areas to celebrate “feast of the nativitie of our Savoir Christ.”
Entries were found in Gov. William Bradford’s journal, that the colonist began building their 1st house on Dec. 25, 1620, according to www.History.com. As the time went on by the 1700s Christmas was more of an adult celebration with parties rather than a magical for children, Christian Church services, hunting, feasts and even religious Christmas carols were observed. After the Declaration of Independence was signed things changed, it still took almost a century to declare Christmas as a national holiday.
Christmas and Hanukkah are both celebrated, we had freedom of religion because of the Second Amendment and in 1870 Christmas was a National holiday in the United States of America. Our President in office was Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877.
Christmas is a special time of the year all around the world, even during the World Wars, there was a truce called on this day. In New York City every year, like at the White House there is a Christmas tree lightning celebration. Is there one in your town?
The first Christmas tree idea came from Queen Victoria of England, and in 1820 Stephen Nissenbaum tells of the first tree, in Pennsylvania. Don’t forget the story of Saint Nicolas, he was a Turkish born monk in the 3rd century, (or St. Nicholas Klaas in Holland) who gave presents to the needy and sick. This started the tradition of Santa Claus and hanging stockings to dry by the fireplace is where he hid the gifts.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s children started to leave cookies for Santa, because to is better to give than receive. My daughter is a veteran, she tells and the story of her first deployment in the U.S. Navy, her first night on the ship Dec. 24, the captain told them “High Alert, I think Santa was flying over the ship at midnight.”
In America our first Christmas stamp was 4 cents in 1862, there are many other traditions from all over the world and it’s fun to look it all up. So, whether you put up a tree with lights, send Christmas cards, go caroling, bake pies, cookies, watch an old Christmas movie, or give a gift to those you love, enjoy your family and give them a call.
Do you read the Bible story of how the angles sang when Jesus was born or “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” wrote by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823, more your cup of tea? I hope you got a Christmas bonus, time with your family, just cleaning your house or being a homeschool teacher. Peace on Earth this season.
Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.Mona@yahoo.com.