Thursday, December 30, 2010

1855 - We Wish You a Happy New Year

It seems to me that New Years Day was depressing even back in 1855 - some things don't seem to change. Thoughts?

We Wish You a Happy New Year.

We know how busy you are this morning - you can't stop to take a third cup, nor to eat half a breakfast; you are in a pet about your boots - in a stew about the barber - and you, good lady, have the parlor to put in order - and to dress - we'll hold you but a moment.

A happy New Year to you! A merry day with do reaction after it - a generous, social time, and no head-ache to-morrow. And if to-day is the happiest day of your life, may scores more just like it come out to meet you from the unrolling years of long and well-spent life.

The New Year's Days are like ships that we meet at sea. Ship ahoy! What cheer?  Don't pass them in sullenness and silence. Hail them. Exchange papers; make the occasion memorable. New Year's is the bow-light of our scudding year. Do not cover it up, nor leave it behind a bulwark. Light and lash it to the stay our hang it under the bow-sprit where it will be sure to do service.

Good people - do not tempt your visitors to drink to-day. Some will, if you temp them, whose drinking will prove fatal. Scores of characters are killed on New Year's day whose ghosts go wandering about the premises of tempters on all succeeding days of the year. Do not ticket any to haunt your house.

Better not drink as you call. Is it not sufficiently inspiriting to see so many fair faces and hear the conversation of such brilliant society? Don't be fooled into the presumption that wine sharpens your wit. It only quickens your perception of it, so that words which are silly enough to others, seem brilliant to you. Wine plays the mischief with a man, and it is affirmed by those who know, that a man always gets tipsy some time before he finds it out himself. Better, then, if you drink once, go home and get to bed.

When the calls of the day intermit, take an observation - hunt up your own whereabouts. Overhaul the weeks, months, years that are coiled up behind you. Have you realized the dreams of your youth? Have you reached the port you cleared for? Are you on the course you marked out for yourself? Are you on good soundings? Do you know the route? Are you reading as you wish to be reported?

Look through old diaries for the events of your life, as newspaper men have been doing by their files lately, for events of the year, and open new ones. Will you venture upon resolutions with the memory fresh of so many broken ones? At least you will be sure that a worthy aim is before you, - then wood up with "good resolutions," and if anything can be done now towards reaching it, don't wait for to-morrow before beginning.

January 1, 1855
The New York Times
New York, New York

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1905 - Over the Seas to Wed, And Then Back Again

British Law Forbids Widower to Wed His Wife's Sister


Mrs. Herbert Allen of London Says It Was Worth the Rough Trip - To be Here Two Days.

An Englishman wished to marry his deceased wife's sister, but that being forbidden by British law, they went to France. There they found too much red tape around the French marriage certificate. Then they decided to journey from London to New York to be married. They acted on the decision, and at high noon yesterday became man and wife at the Broadway Central Hotel. To-morrow they will go back to London, their home - after two short days in the land of the free, and one of those a holiday.

The man is Herbert Allen, who is thirty-seven. She was Miss Charlotte M. Mead, and is twenty-nine years old. They got here on the New York on Sunday night. Mr. Allen had been a widower for about two years.

When the couple failed in France they decided to risk the fiercest storms of the Atlantic to reach America, and they got a good taste of about all that they risked.

All the way over - it was an eight-day passage - Miss Mead was ill, and only once was able to eat a Christian meal, but yesterday, after she was made Mrs. Allen, she said (with a bright if rather wan smile) that "it was worth it, every bit of it." The marriage was solemnized in one of the parlors of the Broadway Central. Frederick Lack stood up with the groom; the Rev. Dr. Henry Marsh Warren, hotel chaplain, united the courageous pair, so defiant of British tradition, so fearless in the face of Winter winds and waves, and so appreciative of the advantages of America.

By all accounts it was a handsome and happy occasion. The ceremony was followed by a collation, also described as handsome and happy. Mr. and Mrs. Allen will return to England tomorrow on the steamship Oceanic, spending no more than a bank holiday and one other day in the country.

The New York Times
New York, New York
February 14, 1905

Friday, December 17, 2010

1893 - Knights Templar Christmas Toast - New York Times

This really was published in the New York Times in December of 1893! How times have changed...

Toast to the Grand Master

Knights Templars to Drink it at High Noon To-Day

One Hundred Thousand Men Send Christmas Greeting to Their Chief - The Grand Master Makes a Reply in Which He Dwells Upon the Significance of the Birth of Christ - He Offers a Toast to the "Valiant Sir Knights."

PORTLAND, Me., Dec. 24. - The following toast was prepared for Christmas by the Grand Encampment Knights Templars:

To Our Most Eminent Grand Master, Hugh McCurdy:

A hundred thousand Knights Templars send greetings, wishing him a merry Christmas, with peace, health, and happiness.

The following is the full text of the response of the Grand Master:

Headquarters of the Grand Master of Knights Templars, United States of America.

CORUNNA, Mich., Dec. 25, 1893.

To all Knights Templars. Greeting:

Returning thanks to our Father in Heaven for the privilege which He has vouchsafed to us in permitting us again to assemble on this gladsome day around our mystic triangle, and with hearts strung in sweetest harmony with the new life of this gracious day we thank you for the toast you offer us.

Christmas, the day of days, the birthday of Him whose coming gave a new meaning to the words of your Christmas greeting - peace, health, and happiness. Of each of these, and of every word dear to man's heart, His life must forever stand as the true exponent. He defined words by living them. To know His definitions and to live them, this alone is life - this alone is Templarism.

To the true Templar the incarnation is the centre and heart of all worship, obedience, and morality - words which are only the names for peace, health and happiness. For Him at Bethlehem's cradle peace, health, and happiness had their birth. There everything that was old came to an end, everything that was new had its beginning. Thus Knights Templars must ever give to Christmas Day with its song of peace and good will to men a sovereign place. Immanuel, God with us, this is the essence of peace, health and happiness -- this the magic word which opens wide the doors to the grandest possibilities of human nature. God is with us as man with a  heart human in its sympathy and brotherhood. This new presence signified new knowledge, new hopes, new powers, new laws.

To us the Christ-child was born to enable each to reach the perfection for which he was made. My fraters, is this great truth to us a doctrine, a tradition, a philosophy, or is it a life as His life was? Are we so learning this truth that our own manhood is developing into a complete self? The more like Him we become, the more ourselves are we. WE are only truly manly when we share the completeness of His character.

From a hundred thousand Knights Templars, to whom the story of the cradle, the cross, the sepulchre, and the Mount of Ascension is as familiar as dear household words, from a hundred thousand manly men comes to me again the Christmas greeting of peace, health, and happiness.

It is the life men live that gives value to their wishes and words. Is this your good wish for me? It is not you who speak, it is the manger at Bethlehem speaking of life - larger, nobler, more divine, of character kingly, of service filled with its gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. A good wish has value only as it embodies the principles wrapped in the manger. It has thus its highest value when coming form men, who in their earthly pilgrimage are guided by the star in the East, as were the wise men of the Orient, bringing their best offering to the Christ-child. A life of peace, health, and happiness is the best wish that man can offer for his brother man. Such a life is a continual Christmas greeting. Such a life it is the aim of every Knight Templar to live. That this is your aim, Sir Knights, is to me your best wish for my merry Christmas, peace, health, and happiness.

"The greatest gift a hero leaves his race is to have been a hero."

The best wish for a brother's peace, health, and happiness is man's own peaceful, healthful, happy life.

"'Tis that compels the elements and wrings a human music from the indifferent air."

The best offering that the Son of man made for man was his peaceful, happy, healthful life. His was the most peaceful, most healthful, happiest life ever lived on earth. To live such a life, Sir Knights, is to wield your swords in defense of the Christian religion. If every man who wears the Christian armor will go forth from the cradle at Bethlehem thus to plead the cause of the Christ-child, whose love steals into the heart of men as the balm of flowers into the pulses of a Summer's evening, we shall soon see the enemies of man's peace, health, and happiness to put to flight. It is only under the benign influence of such warfare that men are to beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, and to learn war no more.

We live in an age in which not only well wishing, but well doing is a colossal virtue, an age in which -

"It is the heart, and not the brain, That to the highest doth attain."

like the pilgrims in Dante, who climbed up a mountain on whose sides there was a mysterious music, ever growing sweeter. And thus, as we go on through life greeting one another each Christmas Day, we learn more and more the truth that the kingdom over which the heart is king is an ever expanding kingdom - the greatest kingdom upon earth. Earth's greatest gospel is man's love for his brother man. Neither ocean nor mountain, nor lapse of time can separate man from his fellows. Let us hasten to invade this kingdom and master it. It is a goodly land. As we go up to possess it, following in the footsteps of our divine Lord from His cradle to the Mount of His Ascension, we shall as faithful pilgrims hear that angel song of peace and good will to men ever growing sweeter, until at last we reach the height of all heights, the hope of all hopes, the joy of all joys - the Supreme God, in whose empire of boundless good will to men no faithful human heart can cherish to wish of peace, health, and happiness too blessed to be true.

"There, above the noise and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles,
And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files."

Sir Knights, I have the honor to propose this toast, and ask you to participate:

To the Valiant Sir Knights of the Nineteenth Century, One Hundred Thousand Strong:

Noble sons of illustrious ancestors, whose knightly lives shed increasing lustre upon a glorious past and illuminate the present with the inspiring hope of a brighter future.
HUGH M'CURDY, Grand Master.

These toasts are to be drunk by Sir Knights and friends and noon to-morrow.

The New York Times
New York, New York
25 December 1893

Saturday, December 11, 2010

1910 - Germany Enjoys a "Fat" Christmas

Year of Immense Prosperity Ending, and People are Spending Lavishly.


April-Like Drizzle in Berlin and Hardly a Flake of Snow in All the Empire - Bad for Hotels.

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
BERLIN, Dec. 24. - Germany is celebrating a "fat" Christmas. The Fatherland has rounded out another year of very great prosperity, and the Yuletide is characterized by corresponding generosity and good cheer.

The Christmas shopping has taken place on an extraordinarily lavish scale. The great stores in the Leipzigerstrasse and Unter-den-Linden have been overrun for a fortnight with throngs of men, women, and children with well-filled purses. It has been necessary for the police to intervene on numerous occasions to regulate the traffic int he streets and on the sidewalks. Every once in a while the big department stores had to be closed to the public in order to avoid dangerous overcrowding. Merchants with depleted shelves and salespeople with weary legs and arms look back to-night on one of the most strenuous holiday seasons in years.

Like the so-called Winter Germany has been enjoying for the last six weeks, the Christmas atmospheric conditions are abnormal. A merciless drizzle, which would do credit to April, has been falling for twenty-four hours, with every prospect of a drenched Santa Claus arriving later in the night.

There is hardly a flake of snow anywhere in the empire. The hotelkeepers of the great resorts in the Thuringian and Black Forests and the mountains are heartbroken, as throngs of fashionable tourists accustomed to spend the holiday week at Winter sports have canceled their reservations.

At what ought to be sundown tonight every good German family, of high or low degree, beginning with the Kaiser, will assemble around the Christmas tree of hoary tradition, sing the old-time Teutonic Yuletide song of "Stille Nacht," and then participate in an elaborate exchange of presents, many of which, in accordance with the German custom, will be presented in response to "wish lists," exchanged weeks ago.

It is the first time that the Crown Prince, who is touring India, has ever been missing from the imperial celebration at Potsdam, but his three sturdy baby boys will be on hand. Christmas time is the one period of the year when the restless Kaiser divorces himself entirely from affairs of the state and devotes his days and evenings exclusively to his family circle.

The New York Times
New York, New York
December 25, 1910

1894 - Christmas Crazy Town

A lot of this sounds like TODAY...

A Wild Rush of Shoppers from Morning Till Night.


The Native New-York Woman In Her Glory Yesterday - Streets and the Big Stores Crowded.

This holiday-making town went Christmas crazy yesterday. Everybody was either buying or selling something. Every man or woman you met - that is, every man and woman who looked happy - was carrying a bundle or two. The people without bundles of their own were mostly unfortunates who could be made happy by earning a nickel for carrying some one else's bundle or opening a carriage door.

For all shopping purposes it was Christmas Eve. The stores and streets were thronged with shoppers from morning till night. People who from force of necessity have left their Christmas buying until Monday will find pillaged counters and weary clerks.

The native New-York woman was in her glory yesterday. Her supremacy over her suburban sisters as a skillful pilot among multitudinous bargain counters and in the astute management of salesmen who can discover a troublesome customer at sight was obvious even to the most inexperienced man who followed at her heels. It is no use trying to temporize with the dry-goods salesman, or saleswoman, either, at Christmas time. They are masters of the situation, and they know it. It is only the thoroughgoing New-York shopped who can handle them. The motto of the experienced Christmas shopper is: "Get what you want, and get it quickly."

The weather was superb for people to be out of doors - and, judging from the condition of the streets, nobody had remained indoors. It was just cold enough to give people who had furs a chance to display them without appearing ostentatious, and not too cold for a woman without furs to appear at her best advantaged in a stunning tailor-made gown. It was just cold enough to compel the ladies to step along briskly and tinge their cheeks with the bloom of health.

As a matter of course, everybody turned into Broadway, especially in the afternoon. Put the average Saturday afternoon Broadway dress parade under the largest triple lens ever made, and you may form some idea of the way it looked yesterday. It was impossible to stop to speak to anybody. People who did not turn into the shops had to keep moving, and it was no easy matter to get in or out of the shops. But Broadway merely acted as a feeder for the general shopping district bounded by Ninth Street and Thirty-third Street. Sixth Avenue was as crowded as Broadway, while Twenty-third and Fourteenth Streets were simply jammed.

If anybody ever doubted that New-York women read the right papers to find out where to go for bargains, the shopping crowd of yesterday would have settled it. The throngs in Altman's, Stern's, Simpson' Crawford & Simpson's, O'Neill's, Lichtenstein's, Dainiell & Son's, and Hilton, Hughes & Co.'s were simply tremendous. Customers tumbled over one another to buy goods. Wagonload after wagonload of holiday purchases was sent off to the uptown districts. It was very late last night before all of them were delivered. It was almost impossible to get in or out of Vantine's. Judging from the way customers elbowed one another in Gunther's and Shayne's a great many people will go to church with new furs Christmas morning.

It would be interesting to know how much money passed over the counters in this city yesterday. When the bread-winning end of the family went home to dinner he was coaxed into accepting a half-hour's delay with good nature, and if he gave way easily under this pressure he was perhaps gently persuaded into putting out a little more money. It was no difficult matter to hide the bundles away over Sunday so that prowling little ones cannot get at them and tear the Santa Claus tradition into tatters.

The markets and stores where good things to eat and drink were disposed of did a thriving trade yesterday. It seemed as though everything was in the market if people only had the money to pay for it. The street "fakir" was in his element. He simply captured the town. He was uptown, downtown, and cross town, and it seemed as though he never before had such a variety of articles to sell. Take him at his word and you could purchase a gold watch and chain for ten cnets, and a real sable boa, with a head on it and glass eyes sticking out as natural as life, for a quarter. The innumerable jimcracks that seem to be invented simply to give the street "fakir" a chance are wonderful.

It was a fad a few years ago for society girls to keep a penny cabinet - that is, a cabinet containing all the articles it was possible to buy for a penny. If it were possible for a man in Brooklyn to have purchased a sample of every article the "fakirs" disposed of in this town yesterday for a nickel he would have to get a ferryboat to get them across the river. And everything seemed to sell. The weather was mild enough to induce one man to bring a load of canaries in wooden cages into Twenty-third Street and sell them at a dollar apiece. In a few hours his stock was gone.

The shoppers deserted the Broadway section in the evening, and the crowds massed in the avenues on the east and west sides where the working people live. There was a great sight to see in the streets in these districts last night. People there bargain and sell with all the keenness and eagerness that characterize their neighbors from the brownstone district. Most of them have to make a little money go a great way.

The shop windows on the east and west sides have their individualities. Some  of them would look very queer to Broadway shoppers. Americans who go abroad think it is a great thing to be taken to Petticoat Lane in London, or to the open markets of Paris on a Sunday morning. Right here in this city they may find a Saturday night scene equally interesting and unique. It is the open-air market in Ninth Avenue, above Twenty-eighth Street. Everything fit to sell is moved out of doors under the flare of naphtha lamps, and a multitude of people who bargain in nearly all languages under the sun are there to buy.

The New York Times
New York, New York
December 23, 1894

1897 - Too Much Joy Was Fatal

While Preparing a Christmas Tree for Her Children Mrs. Rice Fell Dead


Father Had Saved His Earnings for Six Months to Give His Children the First Tree They Had Ever Had.

"Mamma, the clock has stopped between 12 and 1 o'clock. Something is going to happen sure between now and New Year's," said little Frieda Rice to her mother on Christmas morning, just as Mrs. Rice was hanging a few holiday treasures on a small Christmas tree. Barely ten minutes later the mother was breathing her last and her twelve-year-old daughter stood over her, horror-stricken and trembling with fright, too bewildered to make any outcry and too much shocked for tears.

The woman was the wife of John Rice, a shoemaker at 608 East Sixteenth Street. In the cheerless home which she left so suddenly her husband and four little children were vainly struggling yesterday to get some cheer out of the holiday that had been reft [sic] of all its joy by the calamity.

The family occupy the ground floor of the dingy tenement house. Times had been hard in that district for several years, and only during the last six months had John Rice been able to patch and mend enough shoes to allow him to lay by a little store for the celebration of the Yuletide.

A Tree Promised.

This year, however, their parents had promised them that they should have a nice tree, with all the apples, nuts, and raisins they could eat. They would also have some nice playthings to show their friends. For a week they had been eagerly anticipating the joy that was to come and on Christmas Eve Mrs. Rice had put the three youngest to bed, keeping up only Frieda to help her decorate the tree with all the good things.

The husband closed his little shop about midnight. Then he went back into the little dining room and offered his services. The tree had cost him 50 cents, a bit sum according to his method of calculation, and it should be fitted up accordingly. But his wife would not have it. Her own hands should arrange the pretty things with which she was to surprise the children. She was overjoyed at the opportunity afforded her. It had been a long time since she could give them anything more than their absolute need, and she wanted all the pleasure of bestowing for herself.

"You have worked hard enough all day, John," she said. "You just go to bed and I'll fix these things myself. I feel so happy - so joyful. I haven't felt that way in years. I hope the children will like what we have bought them. Poor dears, they've never had a Christmas before, and if we have to live on oatmeal and potatoes for the next week, I mean to give them a good one this year."

John's eyes nearly overflowed. He, too, was happy. He would not mar the pleasure of his wife, and he meekly retired with a parting injunction to his wife not to exert herself too much, as she was in poor health. He was just crossing the threshold into the next room, a little stuff, dark bedroom, when little Frieda, looking up, saw the pendulum of the old-fashioned German clock on the wall quite still, the hands pointing to 12:30.

The German Tradition.

She had heard the old German tradition that when the clock stops between 12 and 1 on Christmas morning, something fearful is going to happen, and with a blanched face she looked up again to make sure that she was not mistaken. Then she called her mother's attention to it.

The mother looked up. "Yes," she said, "my dear, there is something going to happen to you or to me between now and New Year's. I hope it won't be anything very bad."

She was fastening a little tinsel ball on the Christmas tree. She was a heavy woman, and her back was resting against a sideboard. Suddenly she gasped. "Oh! I feel so bad!" she moaned, "but don't tell papa. He'll be scared, and he has worked so hard. Let him sleep."

Frieda was herself scared, though, and did call papa. He at once ran out, and was just in time to catch his wife as she reeled sideways toward the floor - dead. For a moment father and daughter looked at each other. Then the unfortunate man burst into sobs loud enough to wake the other children. They all ran out and threw themselves on their mother's body.

Rice ran out and called the nearest physician. "This is a case for the Coroner," said the doctor. "I can't do anything for her. The poor woman has died of heart failure. She was too happy, I suppose." The physician knew the past history of the grief-stricken family.

The New York Times
New York, New York
December 26, 1897

Friday, December 3, 2010

1876 Christmas

The postoffice will be opened on Christmas day from 9 to 10 a.m. and 12 to 1 p.m.

...Many of our villagers were busily engaged in removing the snow and ice from their sidewalks this morning.

...The snow fell all Friday afternoon and until late in the evening. The quantity is sufficient to make good sleighing, and every owner of a pair of runners and a piece of horse flesh is improving the file sleighing.

...Evergreens are in good demand for decoration purposes.

...If you want to make your wife a nice Christmas present go to Nearpass & Brother and buy one of the Singer Sewing Machines.

...Christmas makes a skip of one day this year. Last year it came on Saturday, but this being leap year, it gently glides over Sunday and occurs on Monday.

...Isn't it about time you commenced to draft the resolutions you will put in force in the forenoon of New Year's day and throw to the winds in the afternoon?

...The display of Holiday goods in most of our business places is very attractive just now. In the night-time the illuminated show-windows present a fine appearance.

...This is the weather when a fellow can go out walking with a girl, and pass an ice-cream saloon without having to take hints or be thought too mean for anything because he did not enter.

...To-day the Christmas shopping culminates. Santa Claus will lay in his last supplies, and prepare for his journey over the house tops and down the chimneys. We hope he has not forgotten anybody, no matter how poor and insignificant.

...If you have not already "set out" your Christmas tree in the back parlor and decorated the branches with the ingenious toy and tempting parcel, you have no time to waste. Gladden the hearts of the little ones, and their smile and good cheer will amply compensate you for the small outlay.

The Evening Gazette
Port Jervis, New York
Saturday, December 23, 1876

1894 - "Santa Claus will now have the right of way for two weeks or more."


In a little more than two weeks the Christian world will celebrate the greatest of all church festivals. Even those who give no thought to the calendar know that, because for some time past, they have been confronted upon every side with the evidences of the coming events. Extraordinary efforts are being made by the Baltimore merchants to meet the holiday trade, and the displays in the shop windows are the richest and rarest of all the year.

Holiday goods are to be seen on all sides in bewildering profusion. The styles in children's toys do not seem to vary much, except that they share in the process of evolution which them ores serious phases of life are undergoing. As education is gradually changing for mere theoretical, abstract learning to practical, concrete knowledge, so the playthings intended to amuse happy childhood are mostly imitations of utilitarian ideas. There is no end of wagons, building blocks, steam engines and miniature railroads with trains drawn by real locomotives. Extreme youth is beginning to wrestle with some intricate problems, and must emerge into maturer years with more accurate ideas about life.

A glace at those articles intended to beautify homes shows a steady advance in American art. Those hideous things which not so very long ago elicited smiles from strangers have disappeared almost entirely. Nearly all of what one sees now is really very attractive.

Of the volume of trade, however, that which can truthfully be said is not greatly encouraging. Comparisons with prosperous years show a falling off. The shopping streets, though full of life and bustle, are hardly as crowded as before the business depression came on. This is apparent even to a careless observer. Still, this cannot yet be taken as an infallible barometer. Occasionally the Christmas trade has a way of swelling out very suddenly, and making up in one week what had been lost during a prolonged season of dullness.

It is hoped that when the final returns are in both sellers and buyers will have ample reason to feel joyous over the results of holiday trade.

The Morning Herald
Baltimore, Maryland
December 8, 1894

Santa Claus - 1897

Santa Claus
From the Philadelphia Press

A society has been formed to demolish the Santa Claus myth. It ought to be christened "The Society to Rob Childhood of Its Chief Delight."

The New York Times
New York, New York
November 22, 1897

1867 - Who Is Santa Claus?

Who is Santa Claus? To the little ones this would seem a very foolish question indeed, - as if everybody did not know who Santa Claus is! And, most certainly, you had better not put it to that experienced and downright young philosopher of eleven last June, who has, somehow or other, left the pure faith of childhood, and now laughs like an infidel - a mere VOLTAIRE - a perfect Mephistopheles - when the thing is mentioned, and cries out, "Ah! I know who Santa Claus is! There he is!" - pointing an irreverent finger in the direction of the oldest person in the room - one never hitherto suspected of coming down the chimney on a cold Winter's night in December, wearing a long beard and bringing lots of things for children on his back or under his arm.

Turning away, then, from this "enfant terrible" who plumes himself on not being "such a baby now," we would offer the query to the "grown-ups" - as the little doll's-dressmaker calls them - who know that every question of folk-lore is of curious importance, since there is hardly anything of that sort, however childish, in the world, which is not derived from ideas or customs of remote antiquity. "Santa Claus" is an interesting archaism - carrying the mind agreeably backward to those times which have always such a charm for the critical investigations or poetic reveries of men. This cheerful Christmas legend was quite a new thing to most of us a few years ago - to those, at least, who got their ideas of such things from the literature of our own language. Santa Claus has come, - as everybody is aware, from Germany to the New World; and the curiosity of this matter is that in thus coming over the sea, he underwent a certain remarkable kind of transformation - a sort of sea-change. He was once honored in Deutchland or Germany, (for both these names have exactly the same meaning in the Celtic,) as a child, a fact which none of the German critics or philologers [sic] have condescended to notice, at least in any distinguishable way.

Santa Claus was one of the oldest ideas of the Celtic West in Pagan times, as he was of the Pagan East before. In Christian times he was still regarded with religious reverence, sitting, as he has sat for ages in Egypt and elsewhere, in the arms of his mother. Santa Claus was, in fact, the Child Jesus in the middle ages; and throughout that period the festive creed of Germany and all Celtic Europe was that he visited all family dwellings of good Christians on the eve of his anniversary, and brought with him gifts and blessings for the children. This beautiful tradition is still to be found lingering in Germany, though Santa Claus does not seem to be specially connected with it by name. The truth of this original belief is plainly enough indicated by the word "Claus," which in the Gothic or Ancient German, means "Child" and "Son." Santa Clause formerly meant the Holy Child.

It is not very difficult to see how the change of men's religious beliefs three or four hundred years ago changed the character of the legend. Those who had put away Catholic sentiment in religion, and wished to have their own of a more dignified sort, thought it too rude and simple a thing to make that Holy Child bring knick-knacks and sweetmeats to the children down the chimney, and so, by degrees, altered the old idea, making it genial, secular fancy in the person of a benevolent and jolly old man, such as the Germans and others have welcomed for many generations, and we in this country have generally recognized of late years. He is such a cheery and felicitous old fancy, that nobody would ever have thought of challenging him in any respect, but for the great mistake so long ago committed, of sending him about the world with that tell-tale Claus pinned on his back, as it were. He really should, himself, have remembered, with the rest of his recollections, that his name is interpreted in Schilter or Buxhorn, (we forget which,) and should have chosen another.

This statement, supported, as it is, by the old Christian traditions clinging round the present season of the year, will commend itself, perhaps, to the critics of old customs and old language. But "the rest of mankind" "don't see it," and, in reply to the Gothic lexicon, exclaim, in the words of Giles Scroggin's ghost, "that's no rule!" Santa Claus will still be the old man with the beard and the frosty face - "frosty, but kindly." And, indeed, very properly. The popular instinct - that is, in these, our modern times - was right in setting that image of the Child aside. It belong to a far profounder sentiment than that of the mere household game, pastime and festivity, and was inevitably displaced by a generation in whom the simple old beliefs and reverence of departed ages lived no longer. After all, it was lucky that Santa Claus was turned so very opportunely into an old man. The other idea could never have come down to such a matter-of-fact age as this; and our Christmas would have wanted the happiest genius of its festivity - the Santa Claus of the German vaterland.

The New York Times
New York, New York
December 25, 1867