Changing Traditions

gold globeChristmas was not widely celebrated in our Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolution, and afterward fell entirely out of favor along with most other English customs—while a continent away in isolated, Spanish-owned California, the holiday was observed with the Catholic rituals and traditional celebrations of Western Europe. California entered the Union in 1850, when American traditions were again influenced by England, which adopted the German decorated-tree custom at Christmas and made much of gift giving among family and friends. The first “official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. President Ulysses Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in 1870, and five years later an American printer offered the elaborate Victorian-style holiday cards for sale in America. Children’s books and women’s magazines played important roles in spreading Christmas customs across the nation, especially decorated trees and special holiday menus.

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