As I pen this last column of the year and I think about the recent assault on Christmas I thought it would be interesting to look back to how the Christmas celebrations came about in this great Republic of ours.
The celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all.
Under America’s new constitution Christmas was declared a federal holiday in 1870.
The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high (sound familiar) and gang rioting like what was seen in Michigan recently occurred during the Christmas season.
In 1828, the New York City council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.
Before the Civil War (1861-1865) the North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as on the question of slavery. Many Northerners saw futility in the celebration of Christmas. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season.
In the years after the Civil War, Christmas traditions spread across the country. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopped for Christmas. Since that time, materialism, media advertising, and mass marketing has made Christmas what it is today.
The traditions that we enjoy today were invented by blending together customs from many different European countries into what is considered by many to be a national holiday.
I have included some traditional music of the season performed by the Vienna Boys Choir, Placido Domingo and the immortal Luciano Pavarotti. As you listen to this selection I want to wish you all peace, health, love and a very Merry Christmas.
Carmen Ileana Román writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.