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Christmas Firsts

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Here is a little bit about the history of Christmas traditions in America, from Christmas trees to greeting cards, that we all know and love today.

Christmas Trees

  • The first American Christmas tree can be credited to a Hessian soldier by the name of Henrick Roddmore, who was captured at the Battle of Bennington in 1776. He then went to work on the farm of Samuel Denslow in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where for the next 14 years he put up and decorated Christmas trees in the Denslow family home.
  • The first Christmas tree retail lot was established in 1851 by a Pennsylvanian named Mark Carr, who hauled tow ox sleds loaded with Christmas trees from the Catskill Mountains to the sidewalks of New York City.
  • The first president to set up a Christmas tree in the White House was Franklin Pierce, and the first president to establish the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn was Calvin Coolidge.
  • In 1882, the first tree lights were sold in New York City.

Martha's Great Cake

Although not the first Christmas cake, this is a recipe from our first First Lady, Martha Washington. These are the exact words in which it was written for celebrating what she called "a true Virginia Christmas" at Mount Vernon:

  • "Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth, start to work four pounds of butter to cream and put the whites of eggs to it a spoon full at a time till it is well worked. Then put four pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same way, then put in the yolks of eggs, and five pounds of flower, and five pounds of fruit. Two hours will bake it. Add to it half an ounce of mace, one nutmeg, half a pint of wine, and some French brandy."

Holiday Cards

  • The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first "official" Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president's staff, a practice continued to this day.

Here comes Santa Claus. . .

  • The first department store Santa was James Edgar, who, during Christmas seasons beginning in 1890, would wander about his store (the Boston Store) in Brockton, Massachusetts, dressed as Santa Claus, talking to the children of customers.

As many mince pies as you taste at Christmas, so many happy months will you have.

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Comments

Thanks to all who make time

By Ms. Robinson

Thanks to all who make time to reply to my first post at Old Farmer's Almanac.
Family jokingly refers to OFA as my mothers' "second Bible" !
Happy 2014 to all members, readers & contributors to OFA.

Merry Holidays to All, Does

By Ms. Robinson

Merry Holidays to All,
Does anyone enjoy celebrating Epiphany? (January 6th )?
Can the writers at Old Farmers Almanac or any OFA readers provide or share more info to the public any info re: Epiphany?
Having lived all over the USA over decades, I've been priveleged to witness and share in Christmas traditions all different by regions, any care to share Christmas traditions from your areas?
Wishing the True Spirit of Christmas continues in your homes and hearts thoughout the New Year and forever.
Though times are rough for so many, I live by the old saying "'Tis better to give than receive". I believe it helps us all remember the true reason for the season, and for those going through rough times in their lives. We all go through trials in our lives. Knowing others care enough to give their prayers, thoughts, good deeds, time, food, gently used clothing, etc. can help not only the recipients, but the givers as well. My firm belief.
May God Bless us All in 2014 and beyond.

Christmas, Xmas, Winter

By Mama Bean

Christmas, Xmas, Winter Solstice--whatever anyone calls it--can be about more than just spending money on presents. It can be about expressing love, sharing with others, giving to those in need, regardless of whether you choose to center the holiday around Christ's birth or not. Most of the traditions we observe (candles/lights, greenery, feasting, making merry, etc.) have their roots in times long before Jesus was born. I respect the rights of others to choose to make the season about Jesus and expect that same respect in return, as I choose to center my Christmas on love, family, the simple joys in life, the arrival of winter. For each of us, the season is what we make of it.

Christmas , like Easter are

By FiestyFeline

Christmas , like Easter are two holidays that are what you make of them. several years ago I started a tradition of my own,for Christmas I had a tree trimming party. For years when I was growing up I saw the mess and the stress and arguments,and so on before the holidays, no one seemed to enjoy any thing of the season.When I moved away from home, I started the tradition,because to me the season meant many things to many people, so I would hand make the invitations, send them to every one I knew, all the neighbors friends, family even the post man the delivery persons and so on. The thing all of them had to do was bring a dish for the pot luck, a trim for the tree, and their family,friends and come to my house on the Saturday before Christmas. I spent a full week making baked goods,candy,and stockings for the children and small gifts to put in the stockings, from craft sticks,clothespins,pine cones, ect.Of course a little candy, usually home made.I have had people tell me that they looked forward to my next parties, and some even started their own.It wasn't the gifts they received when they left that made it notable, it was the idea that they all trimmed the tree together, some even checking out the balance and so on of the ornaments and lights, but most of all it was the sharing the laughing,and a stress buster, with no alcohol. It put everyone in the mood for the Holiday,and they all made new friends. And through the course of the years many made the ornaments for the tree. For me I always thought of Christmas as a time for sharing,not arguing. A time for laughing, not yelling, and giving gifts from the heart ,not how much money you can or cannot spend.I received a musical rendition of green sleeves from a friend of mine one tree party,she played the flute, and her husband cried. it was very moving, and all the others present were moved. That is celebrating a holiday.

Why can't we have Christmas

By Pat White 2

Why can't we have Christmas like years ago. What happened to the celebration of our Lord's Birthday? What happened to baking gifts for family and friends? All Xmas is today is stress and how much money can we spend. How many presents do I have under the tree!!!!

I too agree that CHRISTMAS is

By Tonya Bowles

I too agree that CHRISTMAS is a celebration of our savior's birth. It can continue with you and me remembering the reason we celebrsate this season. "CHRIST" should always be in the holiday CHRISTMAS and never abbreviated in the way that you just did.
You took him out and most likely did not even realize what you had done.
Merry Christmas and God bless to all.

Christmas hasn't changed,

By jaykayg@yahoo.com

Christmas hasn't changed, it's all about what you want it to be.. We still bake for family and friends; they love our homemade gifts and the kids are delighted with their reaction. We make an advent wreath for the 1st Sunday in Advent and light it every day, with an appropriate prayer; the kids are in the Christmas pageant at church; we buy gifts for children in a shelter. We craft gifts for teachers and friends. We make ornaments of seeds, fruit, suet and peanut butter and decorate the trees for the birds and squirrels. We have a Christmas tree, lots of presents and the whole Santa thing, but the kids know there is a lot more to Christmas than Santa. Christmas is an excellent chance to reinforce the Christian lessons we teach all year.

In making Martha Washington's

By Darcy Raymond Gehl

In making Martha Washington's famed cake, Mount Vernon's curatorial staff followed Mrs. Washington's recipe almost exactly. Where the recipe called for 5 pounds of fruit, without specifying which ones, 2 pounds of raisins, 1 pound of currants, and 2 pounds of apples were used. The wine used was cream sherry. Since no pan large enough was available to hold all the batter, two 14 layers were made and stacked (note: the original was one single tall layer). The layers were baked in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours. Should be iced with a very stiff egg-white based icing, flavored with rosewater or orange-flower water.

I don't suppose Martha

By Patty Kotlicky

I don't suppose Martha included the pan sizes or the oven temp for her Great Cake recipe?

Your articles, recipes, and

By Neferlady1@yahoo.com

Your articles, recipes, and just everything bring back the true real memories of what Christmas is all about. Thank You Old Farmers Almanac for good memories.

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