This week on the Historians Podcast, Mohawk Valley singer-songwriters Cosby Gibson and Tom Staudle join Bob Cudmore to talk about and perform historical holiday songs and stories from Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other year-end holidays. [Read more…] about The Historians Podcast Features World Holiday Songs & Stories
Among the finest Christmas seasons in America’s long history took place in 1945. We’re constantly bombarded with how special the holidays are, so it’s tough for any one year to stand out as extra special, but 1945 makes the list.
Events across the Adirondacks that year epitomized the nation’s attitude. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all about celebrating, even though the most destructive war in history had just ended a few months earlier. We often mumble mindlessly that we’re proud to be Americans. But the first post-World War II Christmas was the real deal, worthy of the word “pride.” [Read more…] about Remembering The Christmas of 1945 in Northern NY
“I went out after a Christmas tree and some laurel, through seas of mud,” Jervis McEntee of Kingston wrote on Christmas Eve 1881, “to the place where I always go on the cross road between the Flat-bush and Pine bush roads. It rained a part of the time and turned into a snow storm on our return.”
Another year, McEntee’s usual places for a tree were so wet that he settled for a small hemlock on the side of the hill where he lived. It was a hill that offered a panoramic view of the entire village as well as the Rondout Creek and the Hudson River. His father James, an engineer who had helped build the nearby Delaware and Hudson Canal, had built the first house on the hill and the family still lived there. [Read more…] about A Christmas in Kingston in the 1880s
The tale of St. Nicholas is an old fable from mid-Europe that was popular in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. St. Nicholas was the patron saint of children, merchants and sailors and the patron saint of Amsterdam and was brought by the Dutch to the new world, which for the Dutch was Nieuw Nederlandt (New Netherland).
Many of the American traditions on Santa Claus originated in the Dutch settlement of New Netherland along the Hudson River between New Amsterdam (New York City) and Oranje (Beverwyck-Albany). The other colonies were English. [Read more…] about A Short History of Christmas for New Yorkers
This week on The Historians Podcast, Christopher Philippo, a historian from Bethlehem, NY, joins us. He is editor of The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories. Stories include “The Green Huntsman” and “The Christmas Ghost.” [Read more…] about Christmas Ghost Stories (Podcast)
New York has important associations with the formation of what is now considered a traditional American Christmas. “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “Twas The Night Before Christmas”) was first published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823; The Albany Evening Journal ran an advertisement on December 17, 1841, that is believed to be the first time Santa Clause was used to advertise a store; and America’s first Christmas card was published in Albany in 1850/51.
Recently two rare printings of the first commercially printed Christmas card, published in England, have been announced for sale at auction. The cards depicts a family toasting with glasses of red wine. Commissioned by Henry Cole and designed by John Callcott Horsley, it carries the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” [Read more…] about Puritans, Prussians, and the History of Christmas Cards
Before F. W. Woolworths’, Whitney’s, or even Myer’s department store, there was Pease’s Great Variety Store, located in the Temple of Fancy at 516 and 518 Broadway in Albany, NY.
As with other fancy goods stores, Pease’s catered to the middle and upper middle class selling highly decorated goods like ceramics, prints, furniture and other decorative household items that progressively thinking people might have wanted to purchase. [Read more…] about America’s First Christmas Card & An Early Albany Department Store
By combining technology with time-honored techniques of interviewing and storytelling, this holiday season can be an ideal time for people to hear and preserve eyewitness accounts of life experiences from loved ones for future generations, says an historian at Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History. [Read more…] about This Holiday Season Record Your Family’s Oral History
The tradition of burning a Yule log has largely fizzled out in most parts of the world. While holiday cards often feature cute, picturesque birch rounds in the hearth, old-time Yule logs in 6th and 7th century Europe were monster tree trunks that were meant to burn all day, and in certain cultures for twelve continuous days, without being entirely used up. [Read more…] about Yule Logs & Firewood Science