Two hundred years ago, Christmas Day in the USA came and went with barely a mention. There were no special family gatherings, no big dinners, no presents, no tree, no stockings or stories of Santa Claus. Outside of certain German and Dutch communities, there were effectively no special church services, no nativity scenes, carols or bell-ringers. Though there were still scattered private observances, Christmas was essentially nothing, a non-event.
This hadn’t always been true. In earlier centuries, plenty of American colonists had celebrated Christmas. Traditions varied, from quiet religious services to rowdy, days-long parties full of feasting, drinking, gambling, and theatrical performances (imagine a cross between New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras) . . . but by the 19th century, American Christmas had simply disappeared.
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