2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
Life and the Civil War
19th Century Christmas

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On this page is a small representation of how some Americans in the 19th Century viewed Christmas. The picture above is of a print that was originally published in 1852 in the Brother Jonathan Newspaper (reprinted by Shuman Heritage Printing Co. of York PA). Each individual scene depicts an aspect of holiday life, beliefs, and traditions during that era. They represent hopes, fears, triumphs, and tragedies of another time. The theme of the scenes on the left correspond to the scene across from it on the right. If you click on the individual sections of the print, you can see larger versions of each.

Christmas Eve 1863To the left is a photograph of one of Thomas Nast's depictions of a heartsick separated family's Christmas during the third year of the American Civil War. The woman looks longingly at the winter's moon while the lonely soldier gazes sadly at his family's picture. Click on the picture for a larger image. Then, look closely at the lower images to see the graves of comrades and other scenes all too familiar to the Civil War soldier. Conversely, in the upper right and left corners, joyful images offer hints of a much happier time.

This photograph originally published in Harper's Weekly, now courtesy of the Library of Congress.