Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Soldier's Christmas

Peace on Earth. It’s such a central message of the Christmas season, but wars don’t stop for Christmas. Nor do they prevent Christmas from being celebrated by soldiers far from home fighting for that peace. In fact, many of our beloved Christmas traditions came out of wartime celebrations. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Christmas in America was a quiet religious occasion and not celebrated with a lot of outward festivities. Many historians credit the Hessian soldiers from Germany, who fought in America alongside the British, with introducing Christmas trees to the United States.

Decorated trees were just starting to catch on when the Civil War broke out, and at least one account records Civil War soldiers as decorating their tree with “hard tack and pork” – materials they had on hand, just as they would have used popcorn, dried fruit, pine cones, and homemade paper decorations had they been celebrating at home. Our modern vision of Santa Claus also comes out of the Civil War. Cartoonist Thomas Nast used his editorial drawings to express his political opinions and his image of Santa as a jolly fat man with a white beard in a fur-trimmed suit delivering gifts to the Union soldiers is the image that caught on and remains with us today, although Santa's suit has changed from the stars and stripes of the Nast version to the red velvet we know today.

Later generations of soldiers did their best to maintain established traditions that reminded them of home, with visits from Santa, wrapped gifts arriving from loved ones, decorations, and if possible a special Christmas meal.

On Saturday, November 24, 2012 the grounds and first floor of the Keith House at Graeme Park will be open for free tours from 3:00-8:00 p.m. with soldiers representing different wars encamped on the property demonstrating how Christmas was celebrated on the battlefront during different eras throughout our history. Crafts and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Call 215-343-0965 for details. Directions are available on our website at


  1. Very informative. Please consider adding the gadget to allow subscription via email.

  2. Thanks for your input Nancy. We've added the ability to subscribe via email.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...