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Christmas trees, Christmas folklore, Christmas traditions, Christmas decorations, Belsnickel, Santa Claus


A set of handwritten notes from a variety of newspapers and other sources dating from the 1800s, written by Alfred L. Shoemaker. The notes describe various Christmas traditions, including tree trimming and decorating, songs and caroling, superstitions, sayings and events.

Corresponds to:

Packet 709-304 to 709-307


Miners' Journal Jan 3, 1879

Celebration in Trinity Episcopal Church. The church had been beautifully decorated for Christmas and still wore its dress of green, while at each side of the church stood a Christmas tree appropriately trimmed.”

Song: The Christmas Tree

Gather around the Christmas tree!

Gather around the Christmas tree!

Ever green

How its branches sheen

It is king of all the woodland scene,

For Christ, our King is born to-day

His reign shall never pass away.


Mahanoy City News: “Much has been said here pro and con for the past few days about Christmas trees, and up to the present time your correspondent’s attention has been called to no less than twenty of the ‘best’ and handsomest trees in town.”

Dec 26, 1879. [Mahanoy City News]. The Effects of Superstition. One day last week about $10 worth of ribbon was stolen from Gensemer & Sherman’s store. Two women living in Pinegrove township were suspected of having committed the theft, and were told that if the ribbon was returned no prosecution would follow. The ribbon was sent to the store with the message that a child had been troubled with fits - wither consumption or no [illegible] saith not - and they had been informed that if some article were stolen and burned the child would be cured.”

Tamaqua: ‘A green Christmas makes a fat graveyard.”

Dec 16, 1881 Christmas Decorations

“In house decorations the Christmas tree will as usual occupy the post of honor.”

“So many charming, little ornaments can now be bought ready to decorate Christmas trees that it seems almost a waste of time to make them at home.”

Dec 30, 1881 Christmas day in Pottsville. “Nearly every home had its Christmas tree and some of them were of an unusually elaborate description.”

Jan 9, 1885 Searching for hidden treasure in Indian Gap not far from Cushion Peak.

"Christmas eve was the time when this promised treasure should be discovered. The two visited the place accompanied by the father of the girl, and they say that they had reached the chest when a horrible noise began, and then [illegible] the search.

Miners' Journal of Dec 25, 1885

Copied from Providence Journal against Christmas cards. “Yet these cards are the delight of the boys and girls, and only the soured and cynical Christmas reviewer dislikes them- the reviewer and perhaps the postman. There two humble beings are often not sorry when another Christmas is safely under the snow.”

Dec 26, 1890 Poem The Christmas Tree by John E. Barrett.

Christmas at the capital. “It was a happy time for the children in the White House, for in their honor a beautiful tree, brilliantly decorated, has been set up in the library."

Amerikanische Republikaner of Dec 25, 1863

European short story Der Weihnachts-Abend

"In allen Hausern leuchtaten die Kerzen der Christbaum."

Dec 22, 1865 Editorial: in die gluckliche Zeit der Jugend, wo grune Tannenbaum auftachen."

The Mining Register of Dec 25, 1852

“Wherever we go we discover the toy shops filled to overflowing with commodities, such as St. Nick used to present us with in our juvenile years.

Dec 24, 1853 “What a world of little stockings will be suspended, by cook-stoves and grates, in churning corners and by old fashioned fire places, on their memorable twenty-fourth! Red, blue, black, and cinder; new, old, darned and tattered; ventilation stockings, every hole carefully tied up with bowstrings, by the provident little owner, lest something should spill out of the expected treasures. Some hang by the frail tenure of a pin; others secured to a big nail, for who knows how much they may get? And, others again, fastened to the back of chairs, or swing from the bed-post.”

Evening Chronicle of Dec 24, 1880: “After the children have gone to bed, the Christmas tree with its manifold attractions will be erected to gladden the eyes of the little ones in the early dawn of the morrow."

Evening Chronicle of Dec 24, 1880

“During the evening crowds of merry-makers will pass along the streets, and go from house to house laying the customary contributions of ‘Bellsnickle’ and his followers.”

Dec 24, 1877 “Why is Santa Claus like Sarah’s beaux, “ asked a four-year-old of his pop on this morning. ‘Give it up,’ said Pa. “Because he cometh in the night,” answered the hopeful

“The traffic in spruce trees and evergreens never was greater than it is this year”

Editorial “Here is an aged couple who have long since ceased to trim Christmas trees. It is almost a quarter of a century since the last son and daughter went forth from the parental roof.”

Dec 27, 1882 Schuylkill Haven: “The choristers were out serenading on Christmas eve and Christmas night. All who heard them sing said their selections were grand.”

Dec 26, 1881 Christmas Superstitions - England

Dec 24, 1886 “The Christmas tree is to be trimmed - the finishing touches are to be put to doll's dress - The old Christmas tinsel is to be gotten out and burnished up for new [year]. How they speak of other days and other hands that helped to deck the Christmas tree in days gone by.”

Dec 29, 1886 Mauch Chunk. On Christmas afternoon a special train on the Central Railroad of New Jersey rushed into Mauch Chunk, and brought with it Santa Claus and an escort of 30 fantastics. The train's arrival was announced by the explosion of 50 railroad torpedoes, the locomotive's whistle blowing all the way up, and the ringing of all the church bells in town. The train stopped at the Mansion House depot where old Santa was met by a procession of 400 fantastics.

Die Stimme der Volks

Jan 8, 1833: [German writing not transcribed]

Spring Forge, York Co: [German writing not transcribed]

Dec 24, 1842 Der Weinachts abend. Mentions Tennenbaum

Die Stimme der Volks

Dec 24, 1842: Das Veinachts-Fest [German writing not transcribed]

Dec 31, 1842 [German writing not transcribed]

Jan. 6, 1844 [German writing not transcribed]

Dec 21, 1844 Das Weihnachtsfest [German writing not transcribed]

Dec 28, 1844 [German writing not transcribed]


Some notes in German are not transcribed.


English and German

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Notes on Christmas Traditions, 1833-1890



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