Myth: Christmas Wasn’t Celebrated in America Before 1800


The broad assumption of many people is that Christmas wasn’t celebrated in America prior to 1800. They often cite the work of Washington Irving as evidence that St. Nicholas didn’t make his splash in New York until after Irving’s work was published in 1809. Most often the reason for this assumption is because the city of Boston famously banned Christmas way back in 1659.

But even then America was a big place.

Columbus first brought Christmas to the Americas in 1492.

And while they were banning Christmas in Boston, they were celebrating Christmas in Jamestown some 500 miles south.

In fact, as more and more came to the New World they brought their version of Christmas with them. For most, this meant some sort of religious observance. French traditions of Christmas were prominent during the 1700s in the deep south of New Orleans. Pennsylvania Germans celebrated Christmas, some of them even with Christmas trees decades ahead of when they became widely popular in the mid-19th century.

Morovian settlers in Virginia celebrated a festive Christmas in their tradition in the 1600s and 1700s. Even the Christmas traditions of George Washington and family are well documented by historians dating back to 1759.

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