Christmas during Colonial Times
Colonial Christmas was a holiday for adults, not a magical day for children. Christmas celebrations originated in the southern colonies, and activities included parties, hunts, feasts, and church services, all of which were adult activities. We do get some of our traditions from colonial days. For instance, the main decorations were holly, laurel, and garland, because these were the only plants that looked good during the middle of winter. Mistletoe was hung prominently, and couples would find their way under it at the Christmas balls. The plantation mansions festively donned their decorations, and large feasts were prepared. The foodstuffs of colonial Christmas celebrations were similar to today’s Christmas dinner. A ham, roast, or turkey was usually the main course, followed, of course, by pie and other dessert treats. The wealth of the family determined the extent of feasting. Christmas trees were not a part of the colonial Christmas celebrations, for they did not make it to the states until the middle 1800s. Christmas carols were sung during the season and were religious in nature. "Joy to the World" gained popularity in Virginia, as noted in many journals and historical records of the time. The tradition of gift giving did show up in colonial America, with an interesting twist. People gave gifts to their dependents, whether it is to servants, apprentices, or children. People did not return the gift giving to their superiors. And the gift giving was not the elaborate ordeal that it is today. Each recipient would most likely receive one special treasure. And the gifts were more treasured than they are today. As more and more immigrants migrated to the New World, the Christmas holiday became more wide spread and incorporated traditions from around the word. The Christmas tree was brought to America from Germany, and Christmas cards came from London. Santa Claus himself is a combination of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas...
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