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At the beginning of the 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in early American – winter holiday in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they promised to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, canceled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne, and with it 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, America is not God at the beginning of the feast. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. However, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas and enjoyed all passed without incident.

Christmas after Outlaw American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under the new American Constitution. Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.


Washington Irving Christmas invite
It was not 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. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

Early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York City Council established a city first police response to the riots Christmas. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., Series stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. Sketches have a squire who invited the peasants into his home for a holiday. In contrast to the problems in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a quiet, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across boundaries of wealth and social status.

Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of the Lord misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any parade had participated in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition, which suggests that it described the true customs of the season.

Before the Civil War
North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as the issue of slavery. Many of the North saw sin in the celebration of Christmas, to those people Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season. Not surprisingly, the first three states to Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838. Early Christmas & Engraving Santa

In the years after the Civil War, Christmas traditions spread throughout the country. Books for children play an important role in spreading the customs of celebrating Christmas, especially the tradition of trimmed trees and gifts delivered by Santa. Sunday school classes encouraged the celebration of Christmas. Women’s magazines were also very important in suggesting ways to decorate for the holidays, as well as how to make these decorations.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopping for the holiday season. Since then, marketing, materialism, media, advertising, and mass reached Christmas what it is today. Traditions that we enjoy at Christmas today were invented by blending together customs from different countries to what is considered by many to be our national holiday

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