A Pioneer Christmas: Traditions Across America

This program explores the various traditional celebrations of the Christmas season as they might be found across this country during the latter part of the 19th century. As people moved westward, they brought their traditions for celebrating the season with them and learned to adapt them to their new environment.

Dressed in the authentic clothing of a pioneer woman, and using three differently decorated Christmas trees, Tames compares and contrasts how the holiday was celebrated by an upper middleclass family in an East Coast city, a homesteading community in the Midwest, and those who tried to keep their traditions alive out on the prairie. Discussed are the significance of presents, crèches, nutcrackers, and what was used to decorate the trees. Tames also talks about the perils of holiday travel and how food played a major part in the celebrations.

When people gathered to celebrate the holiday there would be music, dancing, and the singing of carols. This program encourages the audience to learn the history of and to sing some traditional carols that were popular during this era.