Colonial America was a melting pot of people from varied nations and traditions. The Puritans of New England did not celebrate Christmas at all. The early German and English immigrants to the Mohawk Valley were more accustomed to celebrating the holiday. In combining elements from various cultures, America developed its own unique traditions.
The Rome Historical Society – Friends of the Fort and Fort Stanwix National Monument are set to host a look back at holiday music and winter traditions of the Mohawk Valley on December 21st, at 5:30 pm.
The custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to, and before, medieval times. Yule is the name of the old Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, such as Germany. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shilling.
After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
Through research from the 1700s, William Sawyer, a Park Ranger for over 30 years, will present songs and stories looking at the various American holiday traditions in the Mohawk Valley and how the different cultures contributed to a shared version of the holiday.
This program is free and open to the public.
The Rome Historical Society is located at 200 Church Street, Rome. For more information, call (315) 336-5870, or visit their website.
Photo of 18th Century Holiday Traditions at Rome Historical Society provided.