Christmas Preparations Civil War Style

In the mid-1800s, the Christmas season was a time for family get-togethers, good cheer, and good will. It is also a time when the different cultural practices brought by immigrants from various backgrounds began to meld together into those we are familiar with today. We can find descriptions of what holiday celebrations were like in... Continue Reading →

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Christmas Poems and Pictures Civil War Style

The 1864 Christmas Poems and Pictures: A Collection of Songs, Carols, and Descriptive Poems relating to the Festival of Christmas is typical of the Christmas books popular during the Civil War period. Published in New York by James J. Gregory it contains old English Christmas carols such as "A Carol for the Wassail Bowl", religious... Continue Reading →

The Christmas Tree Civil War Style

When we think of magic, probably one of the most magical things of the Christmas season are brilliantly lit Christmas trees. Although decking the house with boughs of pine was a traditional Christmas practice [the pine scent was believed to clean the air and prevent disease], Christmas trees were uncommon in early America. The custom,... Continue Reading →

Games for Girls from the 1862 American Girls’ Book

While the boys were outside building snow forts and giant men, the girls were inside putting on plays, playing games, or amusing themselves with paper and cardboard and cloth following the directions in the 1862 American Girl's Book by Miss Leslie, a volume intended as an "unpretending manual of light and exhilarating amusements; most of... Continue Reading →

Sleigh Rides in the 1860s

  Why do parties choose a moonlit night for sleigh rides? Because they are pleasanter than dark nights. "Proceedings of the Farmers' Club" in the  Annual Report of the City of New York 1864 p. 165. Here it is December 15, and no snow, no snowmen, and no sleds. I am looking  out my window... Continue Reading →

A Civil War Christmas Story

There are but few children, in this matter-of-fact age, who have real faith in the jolly little man with mouse-skins and reindeer...  No this wasn't written in 2012. This is taken from the children's book  Keep a Good Heart: A Story for Christmas Time by Cousin Carrie 1864 p. 78.  What can children's books tell... Continue Reading →

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