Colonial Christmas

Christmas in Colonial America:

These days, the Christmas season starts at 12 AM on Black Friday and is over as soon as Christmas dinner is cleared. The season is filled with wreath, lights, Christmas trees, gift giving and so many more traditions. Did you know that all these traditions are very recent additions to the holiday?

Christmas in colonial America was much different than what we have come to know.

In fact, Christmas was outlawed by Puritans of New England until the mid-19th century. The Southern colonies celebrated the holiday as early as 1600’s, but many of the traditional holiday symbols did not yet exist.

Colonial Christmas:

The celebration of the Christmas season in the southern colonies included church services, parties, hunts, visiting, and a holiday feast. Decorations consisted of holly, laurel and ivy, with a sprig of mistletoe, or whatever winter greenery was available.

The Christmas feast varied depending on how wealthy a family was, but generally, consisted of wines, rum punches, hams, beef, goose, turkey, oysters, mincemeat pies, and various other treats.

The season was considered a celebration for grown-ups, but presents would generally be given to children. Southern families also supplied rum and candy to their slaves on the first of the year.

Christmas Traditions Courtesy of Colonial Virginia:

The Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 16th century, but did not gain popularity in America until after 1842 when it was introduced in Williamsburg.

Christmas Carols were sung during the holidays, but most of the popular carols of today had not been written before the late 1700’s. The hymn that was popular in colonial America was Joy to the World, written by Isaac Watts of Virginia during the 1760s.