Christmas Traditions of Pioneer Ancestors

If you had ‘pioneer’ ancestors, those who lived in the 1700s to early 1900s in any wilderness, isolated regions of America, it is fascinating to examine what Christmas traditions they celebrated. The first celebration of Christmas didn’t really expand as a big important holiday until the mid-1800s; yet it was the Southern States that had really started earlier, in the 1830s. This was true also for having a Christmas tree, a concept from England with their Queen Victoria.

Settlers in isolated regions were limited in what supplies and goods they had available, so most things were made at home, this is true for Christmas gifts. A Christmas stocking by the fireplace was just about what was given to the children. It was usually small edible delights such a fruit (not usually had during the year), nuts and candy. Even special was to have a penny or even a nickel in the stocking. Children were also given homemade items such scarves and mittens or caps. Boys might have gotten a puzzle or a whittled toy. Girls got a homemade rag doll.

If the father was crafty with wood, he might make a hobby riding wood or a special child-sized chair. Girls learned how to sew and knit, so they could have made a handkerchief or laced table covering for their parents.

Christmas decorations were limited also, usually anything different was made for display in the home or at the window.

One aspect that frontier families did try to observe was attending church services and later gathering family, food, and fun.

Photos: Christmas meal; child’s hobby horse gift and gathering of family-friends at Christmas

Related Blogs:

Our Brave Ancestors

Frontier Expansion

Hometown Christmas

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