Wednesday, December 07, 2005

American Christmas

“Abraham Lincoln voted against adjourning the legislature on Christmas Day,” Cullom Davis, an Abraham Lincoln historian told me as we were touring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL last week. I had heard a great deal about the museum from my wife and children who have visited numerous times but was not prepared to see with how history can be brought to life like what I saw at this new museum. It didn’t hurt that they used a Disney expert and had $150 million to spend. But, it was still impressive.

One of the temporary exhibits was “Christmas at the White House” which detailed how the traditions of Christmas have evolved over the years. I learned that it wasn’t until the 1890s that Christmas began to become a major holiday in the USA. The extent of the Lincoln’s Christmas celebrations were probably Christmas stockings over the fireplace. There was no Christmas tree and President Lincoln worked as though it was a normal workday. Lincoln thought that the taxpayers were owed a day of work on Christmas and shouldn’t be treated as any different from any other day of the year.

As I toured the museum, I was surprised at how our traditions have changed and evolved over the years. It is the same with our communities. We have to continually update our traditions and evolve as communities.

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