Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas for a Dollar...

2014 Christmas Exhibit at Old World Wisconsin
- Photo by Anne Danko

By 1880, many Americans had already been decrying Christmas as overly commercial for years. There were those who chose to celebrate Christmas elaborately with all the baubles the Victorian era could gloriously muster, but for many Christmas still celebrated modestly. Below is an excerpt which was printed in the Milwaukee Sentinel on December 20, 1880 and now found in the Wisconsin Christmas Anthology edited by Terry R. Engels and printed by the Partridge Press in 1989.

Who authored the piece is not recorded; but it stands as an example of the frugality of Wisconsin and the Greater Midwest. It is that same frugality which has become a stereotype and is often the butt of many jokes but is also the frugality many of still know and have learned to embrace…

Christmas for a Dollar

2014 Christmas Exhibit at Old World Wisconsin
 - Photo by Anne Danko
 “First the tree, fifteen cents secures a splendid one. Somewhere in the shed or cellar is an old box, just the thing to set it in. Ten Cents buys eight good candles that can be cut in two pieces. A pin stuck stoutly wherever a light is wanted, will hold the taper well in place. Five cents gets a pound of corn for popping. Then purchase twenty cents worth of stick candy with a quarter pound of raisins (five cents) to sprinkle with it. Gauze to make little bags in which the candy could hang on the tree takes another five cents. Now, forty cents still remains, and with it can be purchased a whittling knife with two blades (fifteen cents) for a boy and a set of toy dishes (twenty cents) for a girl. The remaining nickel can be used to buy a brightly colored Christmas card, and the children’s joy will be complete.” --Milwaukee Sentinel, December 20, 1880

Merry Christmas! May your stick candy and popcorn be plentiful…and your family and friends be happy and healthy!


2014 Christmas Exhibit at Old World Wisconsin - Photo by Anne Danko

Engels, Terry R. A Wisconsin Christmas Anthology. St. Cloud, MN: Partridge, 1989. Print.

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