BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Christmas and New Year are arguably the two most celebrated holidays in the world. America officially joined the celebration when the 18th President—Ulysses S. Grant–of the relatively new country declared it a federal holiday on June 26, 1870.
We’ve come a long way from our Pagan past as this excerpt from The History of Christmas explains…
“In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated early American Christmas – winter holiday in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.
An outlaw Christmas After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
Washington Irving reinvents Christmas. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.”
Let’s go further with this modern day and innovative, media savvy explanation of our Christmas past from a strong voice on Facebook and other social media platforms; ArchDuke member Charity Croff…
Since the beginning of recorded time on planet earth, humans have tried to make sense of the phenomenon we call life. Our celebrations and traditions, like Christmas, have shaped us as a people and despite the brutality and injustices that have marked our journey on this beloved planet, humans are remarkable beings still trying to create the perfect society and way of living. And, that says a lot about us as collective beings.
It’s important to embrace our past because it guides us in forming our future. What Christmas means to Americans and other nations across the world is an important part of our growth as human-beings and as individual nations beholden to their own cultural identity. We have a lot to be proud of even in the midst of the current turmoils and chaos across the world. And, regardless of your views on how we celebrate this special holiday, Christmas allows us a moment to be still, take it all in, give thanks and appreciate all we have that makes life sweet and worthy of living. Merry Christmas…don’t forget to appreciate the journey that brought us here.