Stroll through Vintage Christmas Memories
How do the Amish observe Christmas? With reverent simplicity. See our life-sized Amish figures and read of the Amish Christmas celebrations which focus on their faith and their families.
Little Virginia Wrote:
"Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my
little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says,
"if you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the
truth, is there a Santa Claus?"
Virginia O'Hanlon's Story
Virginia O'Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her above letter:
“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject. It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.”
And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.
Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversal subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.
Francis P. Church's editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.
Stroll by a scene from the beloved novel by American author Louisa May Alcott(1832-1888), Little Woman. This book was written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts. Little Women follows the lives of four sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and is loosely based on Louisa May Alcott's own childhood experiences with her three sisters. This is a lovely and heart wrenching tale about the March family, a family who loses its wealth but gains much more with love and unity.
See Belschnickle, the PA Dutch version of Santa Claus, visiting a log farm kitchen. Marvel over a Pennsylvania Christmas Garden of the 1890's, walk by the old-time confectionery, and view a re-creation of the very first publicly-documented decorated Christmas tree.
Thomas Nast was one of the first artists who, along with Clement Moore, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus. Thomas Nast was an American cartoonist of the 19th century and he drew his first Santa Claus for the 1862 Christmas season Harper's Weekly cover. The figure Nast drew was based on Pelznikel, the bearded, fur-cloaked, pipe-smoking St. Nicholas of his German heritage. In the German Christian tradition December 6 was (and is) Saint Nicholas day, a festival day honoring Saint Nicholas and a day of gift giving. Nast combined this tradition of Saint Nicholas with other German folk traditions of elves to draw his Santa in 1862, Nast's Santa appeared as a kindly figure representing Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.