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History Unraveled: An Extremely Short History of Xmas in America

The evolution of Christmas in America is a case in point.

Gaining a historical perspective on America is not easy with current events and social media sucking up all of the oxygen. However, looking back through the decades and centuries it seems clear that life in these United States has always been more or less chaotic and social discourse has been riddled with misinformation and misunderstandings. The evolution of Christmas in America is a case in point.

“XMAS” does not take the Christ out of Christmas.

For starters, let’s clear up, once and for all, “XMAS”. “XMAS” does not take the Christ out of Christmas. This Greek shorthand has always been used by Christians. “X” is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, and “mas” refers to a church service.

America was all about work and commerce.

In Colonial times, Americans were from such diverse cultures and religious backgrounds that there was no universal celebration of any holiday. And then, following the Revolution, all English calendar observances were abandoned. Nationally, we were left with Election Day and the 4th of July.

America was all about work and commerce. Taking days off for holiday observances got in the way of progress and profits and were left to local communities to declare.

Eventually, on June 28, 1870, we ended up celebrating Christmas

Eventually, on June 28, 1870, we ended up celebrating Christmas, New Year’s and Thanksgiving on a federal scale.  Christmas gained in acceptance, even among non-Christians, as gift giving and spoiling children worked together to create a shopping season that has become a bellwether of economic prosperity. 

In recent years, Halloween’s increasing popularity has threatened Christmas’s standing in terms of costumed revelry and money spent. But that’s another story for another time.

Come check out the North House Museum gift shop for some of your last-minute holiday shopping needs.

Located in historic downtown Lewisburg, come check out the North House Museum gift shop for some of your last-minute holiday shopping needs.  The gift shop houses local artists’ prints, local regional history books, local holiday ornaments and more! The museum is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 4pm.  We are located at 814 Washington St. near Carnegie Hall and New River Community & Technical College. For more information, call us at 304-645-3398 or stay updated with us on facebook @NorthHouseMuseum.

– Toni Ogden, Greenbrier Historical Society Education Director and House Curator. Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper #129. December 2020.

Also read: Step Into History at The North House Museum

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