David Frum wrote an interesting piece for CNN: “The ‘War on Christmas’: Did Lincoln Start it?”
He takes a historical look at how Americans have celebrated Christmas. He notes that the Founding Fathers, and our political leaders up through the late 1800s, took a far stricter view of “separation of church and state” than we do today. In fact, if they were alive today, they would argue on principle against any governmental recognition of Christmas (or any other religious holidays).
- George Washington, as president, issued a proclamation about Thanksgiving (a secular holiday) but never one for Christmas or Easter.
- Abraham Lincoln, in 1834, voted against making Christmas a state holiday. No state in the country closed offices on December 25 that year.
- On his first Christmas as president, Lincoln held a cabinet meeting. The Lincolns never put up a Christmas tree, never sent Christmas cards.
- In 1836, Alabama became the first state to recognize Christmas as a state holiday.
- Christmas didn’t become a national holiday until 1870.
- Benjamin Harrison, in 1889, was the first president to allow a Christmas tree in the White House.
Maybe the “War on Christmas” should be retitled the “War on the Original Intent of the Founding Fathers.”