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The Railroads That Created Christmas

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/12/how-railroads-created-modern-christmas/604126/

theatlantic.com

The Railroads That Created Christmas
Before Americans could have gift-giving on a massive scale, they needed a way to move all those goods around.

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The Christmas evolution

The Christmas evolution

Santa and his reindeer, the carols, the lights, and the massive consumer spending on gifts did not happen immediately upon the birth of Christ.

By the mid-1800s, the holiday had picked up various elements of European religious and pagan traditions but wasn't popular in the United States. Much of the holiday's evolution is attributable to the steel rails in America.

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The creators of the modern American Christmas

Thomas Nast gave us our image of Santa, but Henry Bessemer figured out how to make steel rapidly, cheaply, and abundantly. He completely revolutionized some of the greatest of human industries.

His rails connected almost every corner of the United States, making it possible to move products and messages of love across the nation.

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How the train propelled the idea of Christmas

Society's view was propelled by trains full of Christmas trees, Christmas cards, and Christmas gifts.

The Christmas tree came first as big business in the 19th century. Christmas trees were hauled by train from Maine to New York City. Along with the Christmas tree came the Christmas card. The last piece of the holiday was the tradition of giving gifts. A Times article in 1890 declared "an epidemic in giving and receiving presents".

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