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Letter to George Fuller from wife Agnes regarding Christmas
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Puritans of early New England purposefully suppressed the celebration of Christmas, citing a lack of biblical basis for December 25 as the day to commemorate Christ's birth. Rather, the time around the winter solstice in England was traditionally marked by raucous carnival similar to Mardi Gras and was steeped in pagan traditions. As the eighteenth century wore on, key New England clergy began to see the value in positioning Christmas as a religious holiday, where the emphasis was on spiritual reflection and the family circle. By the mid-nineteenth century, many of the Christmas traditions we recognize today were in practice. On December 26, 1876, Agnes Gordon Higginson Fuller, wrote describing the family's Christmas from Deerfield, Massachusetts, to her husband, George, who stayed in Boston to work in his art studio. She reports of a number of familiar rituals like putting "a few things" in her three-year-old daughter's stocking, placing a gift on the plates of each of their four children, and having a special family meal.
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