I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families. My extended family had a lovely meal and enjoyed each other’s company, at least until my son had to go to bed early in order to be at work at 5:00 a.m. As major retailers encroach on our family holiday in an effort to rush the Christmas shopping season, many of us have had time to reflect on simpler times. And those simpler times can be found right here at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.
December is the season for family traditions including Conner Prairie by Candlelight
tours on December 9-10 and 16-17. This is a long-running, popular family event in which residents of 1836 Prairietown share their views on celebrating Christmas – or not! Some residents hang stockings and await Santa Claus, some focus on the religious observance, and some refuse to have anything to do with it. Of course that puts folks in mind of Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, not an unreasonable comparison since the story was first published in 1843.
Conner Prairie by Candlelight
However, many people today don’t realize that Christmas in the early nineteenth century was a religious observance, not a legal holiday. You may be surprised to know that in 1836, Alabama was the first state in the union to declare Christmas a legal holiday. Imagine not being able to shop on Christmas Day!
If you have an opportunity to visit us during our new Saturday daytime 1836 Outdoor Adventure
, December 10 and 17, you will get a chance to find out that 1836 was indeed a simpler time, when baking cookies or arranging greenery on the fireplace mantle were what made the season festive. There was no need to start shopping or decorating in October like we do in the 21st century. Or would that have been such a bad idea? I suggest you seek out Prairietown’s store owner, Mr. Whitaker, who will certainly offer some insights on the dangers of merchants closing their doors to customers for an entire day!