Christmas in the American Civil War (1861–1865) was celebrated in both the United States and the Confederate States of America although the day did not become an official holiday until five years after the war ended. The war continued to rage on Christmas and skirmishes occurred throughout the countryside. Celebrations for both troops and civilians saw significant alteration. Propagandists, such as Thomas Nast, used wartime Christmases to reflect their beliefs. In 1870, Christmas became an official Federal holiday when President Ulysses S. Grant made it so in an attempt to unite north and south.
- The American Civil War, despite its savagery and enormous loss of life, still was the cause for many changes to our nation, which has been largely forgotten in the historical telling.
- The celebration of Christmas during wartime is always interesting, and particularly so during horrific encounters between the Union and Confederate forces during this nineteenth century four-year societal carnage.
- The thought that first comes to mind is: Christmas is a time of celebration, a reminder of God’s intervention in the world of man to bring peace with God through Jesus, to give and receive gifts and cards with family and friends alike, and a time to gather with family around a table loaded with sumptuous quantities of food and conversation.
“Another Civil War addition to Christmas had to do primarily with decorating the Christmas tree. Hanging items on the tree was nothing new, for this had been done for many years.”