American Holidays and the Civil War

The Civil War was the fountain of several American holidays. The war years also changed existing holiday commemorations. From a Thanksgiving proclamation (many of them) to a unique 4th of July when the nation marked its independence with mixed emotions of despair and celebration. It must have been an especially poignant experience to watch as cousins either mourned or rejoiced as reports of the Confederate repulse at Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg traveled the telegraph lines. And after the war, both North and South remembered Christmas and the dead of both sides on Declaration Day (later Memorial Day).


Civil War Christmas Remembered

A paHoliday Elf: Thomas Nast's First Santa Claus Cartoon 1863nel of “experts” answers questions about Civil War Christmas. What was it like to mark the Savior’s birth during the conflagration? Let South Carolinian Mary Boykin Chesnut, Marylander Elizabeth Blair Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Margaret Leech, Virginian Cornelia Peake McDonald and Union political cartoonist Thomas Nast reveal what the holiday was like.



Juneteenth: An Unlikely Choice to Mark Freedom

Juneteenth holiday celebration in Houston, public domain, courtesy of Houston Public LibraryThe Emancipation Proclamation took effect January 1, 1863. The 13th Amendment was ratified December 6, 1865. Robert E. Lee surrendered the hope of the Confederacy on April 9, 1865. So why do we mark emancipation in June? Juneteeth, a holiday with a humble beginning.



Memorial Day Established to Remember Civil War Dead

Memorial Day Commemoration began at Arlington House (the Custis-Lee Mansion) Happy Memorial Day! Is that right? Is one to be happy on Memorial Day? Memorial Day was originally established as Decoration Day just after the Civil War to remember soldiers (Union and Confederate) who had died during the conflict. Selling washing machines and refrigerators came later.



The First Thanksgiving: A Civil War Proclamation

Although there’sThomas Nast's soldiers celebrate Thanksgiving holiday. a heaping helping of irony in it, it seems we’re busy adding competition to a holiday meant to celebrate gratitude, cooperation and community. The holiday? Thanksgiving. There’s a constant din now about which culture, which state, which people celebrated the first Thanksgiving. Does it matter?