Plantation house in the snow.

The Grim History of Christmas for Slaves in the Deep South

"If you read enough sources, you run into cases of slaves spending a lot of time over Christmas crying."
Frank Sinatra singing into a microphone.

The Christmas Carol Canon That Could Have Been

Pheasants? 'Dickory dock'? Toyland? Here's how a narrow slice of American history changed the holidays forever.
Toy santa mug shots

The War on Christmas

A brief history of the Yuletide in America.
Drawing of pilgrims walking in a line in the snow

Why the Puritans Cracked Down on Celebrating Christmas

It was less about their asceticism and more about rejecting the world they had fled.

Baby, Christmas Songs Have Always Been Controversial

Long before “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” holiday songs played a part in the War on Christmas.
Intricately painted Easter eggs.

Why Easter Never Became a Big Secular Holiday like Christmas

Hint: the Puritans were involved.

No One Writes Great Christmas Songs Anymore

But maybe those midcentury classics weren't really Christmas songs at all.

Why The 'War On Christmas' Just Isn't What It Used To Be

The battle between "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" goes way deeper than you think.
Santa in a rocket sleigh.

A Wonderful Life

How postwar Christmas embraced spaceships, nukes, and cellophane.

Christmas in the Space Age: Looking Back at the Wild Designs of Mid-20th-Century Holidays

There are two critical periods for Christmas. One is the Victorian era. The other is the 1960s.

Naughty & Nice: A History of the Holiday Season

Tracing the evolution of Christmas from a drunken carnival to the peaceful, family-oriented, consumeristic ritual we celebrate today.
Shipwreck nicknamed the "Christmas Tree Boat," which disappeared beneath Lake Michigan waters in November 1912.

The ‘Christmas Tree Boat’ Shipwreck That Devastated 1912 Chicagoans

Marine archaeologists are beginning to understand what really happened to Captain Santa's ill-fated ship, nicknamed the Christmas Tree Boat.
Joel Roberts Poinsett (left). The poinsettia, which takes its name from Poinsett (right).

Poinsettia Day, the Monroe Doctrine, and U.S.-Mexican Relations

The troubled history of the famous poinsettia plant.
Charles Dickens as he appears when reading, Harper’s Weekly (December 7th, 1867).

A Christmas Carol In Nineteenth-Century America, 1844-1870

What were Americans' immediate responses to "A Christmas Carol," and how did Dickens' reading tours and eventual death reshape its meaning?
Christmas lights and decor

Christmas Lights — Brought to You By a Jew From the Muslim World

Jews from the Ottoman Empire pioneered the Christmas lights market a century ago — but nativism, antisemitism and islamophobia obscured this history.
Cup of eggnog with cinnamon

From Weddings to Riots, Everything to Know About Eggnog's History

People have been drinking eggnog for hundreds of years. Here's where it originated and how it became a traditional holiday drink.
Washington entering New York.

Mythmaking In Manhattan

Stories of 1776 and Santa Claus.
Charlie Brown and his friends at a store with a Christmas sale.

When Christmas Started Creeping

Christmas starts earlier every year — or does it?
Frame from the film with Jimmy Stewart's character George Bailey receiving hugs from his wife and children.

What 'It's a Wonderful Life' Teaches Us About American History

The Christmas classic, released 75 years ago, conveys many messages beyond having faith in one another.

Why So Many Guns on Christmas Cards? Because Jesus was ‘Manly and Virile.’

Muscular Christianity — with scriptural interpretations that can favor “stand your ground” over “turn the other cheek” — has a long tradition in the U.S.