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Highlights Archives

Holidays Through Wisconsin History

Holiday card with three couples of animals dancing
WHI 80311

We are finally reaching the finish line in the annual holiday marathon. Every special day on our cultural calendar has its own unique history that sheds light on our beliefs, desires and values. The marathon begins in September with Labor Day, whose origin is clear enough. So is the history of Columbus Day, the next milestone in the holiday procession. The roots of Halloween, on the other hand, are more obscure, though it reveals our centuries-old fascination with other-worldly phenomena.

The Big Three of American Holidays

Then come the Big Three of American holidays. First, Thanksgiving, which has grown from a humble ceremony of gratitude for what we have into the start of a frantic 30-day scramble after all the things we wish we had. And then comes Christmas, whose traditions came chiefly from a melding of English, German and Scandinavian influences.

And that leaves only New Year, which, like Halloween and Christmas, has roots reaching thousands of years into out collective past.

How Our Wisconsin Ancestors Celebrated

Take some time this weekend to read about how our Wisconsin ancestors celebrated various holidays in this article from the "Wisconsin Magazine of History." Or if you party too hearty, just look at the pictures.

Whatever you do, we here at the Wisconsin Historical Society wish you a safe and prosperous 2011.

:: Posted December 27, 2010

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