Christmas in America

American history tells us that early settlers of Boston were Puritans who sailed to America in 1630 seeking religious freedom. The early Pilgrims, a separatist group, came ten years later, also seeking their own style of religious freedom.

In the colonies of New England, the Puritan population was staunchly against Christmas and its celebration. They saw it as a holiday associated with Catholic and pagan traditions, which they opposed. Consequently, in 1659 Christmas was officially outlawed in Boston. Anyone found celebrating it was fined fifty shillings and shunned by their neighbors.

This law was revoked in 1681 by a non-Puritan governor, but by that time, Christmas had simply been forgotten, and wouldn’t catch on again until the mid-19th century after Washington Irving wrote stories about how Christmas was celebrated in England before the Puritans took over. German immigrants practiced the tradition of placing evergreen branches and trees in their homes during cold winters, and Catholic immigrants brought the tradition of nativity scenes. The legend of Saint Nicholas and its traditions were brought by European emigrants. By the late 1800s most Americans celebrated Christmas, and President Grant declared Christmas a national holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Today, most Americans blend religious and secular customs with their own family traditions with food, decorations, and gift giving (thanks, Charles Dickens). For most Americans, Christmas remains a religious occasion, and it blends well with the Jewish Hanukkah.

Today, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving and ends on New Years Day, giving all of us plenty of time to celebrate, shop, party, eat, pray, and decorate to our hearts content. While it serves us well to be reminded of the original meaning of Christmas, Christmas in the United States reflects the values of a free and diverse people.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at DLMoneyMatters! 

4 Ideas for Holiday Season at Work

With Thanksgiving Day behind us, we are well into Hanukkah and Christmas seasons and a stone’s throw from New Year’s Day. That is, if we can survive the temptations and stress all around us during this challenging time of year.

Somewhere among the office parties and gift exchanges, beyond the end of the year workload and gift list we still haven’t completed, there is a sense of joy — if we can only stand still long enough to sense it.

moose dollRather than stress out, we can choose to focus on ways to make the holidays around the office healthier and more peaceful.

Have that potluck party, but suggest low-calorie, low-sugar options like fruits and nuts, veggie sticks, festive salads and sugar-free gelatin desserts. With a little less soda and more sparkling water, everyone will still have fun “goofing off” for a long lunch hour and will be more inclined to get back to work after the last cheese cube and olive is gone.

If you have a gift exchange, insist that everyone spend very little and keep it light with fun gifts, gag gifts, or homemade gifts…any type of gift that prevents stress from it’s giving or receiving.

Help employees and coworkers manage their stress. Employees, help your co-workers. Avoid alcohol in the office, or drink in moderation if you choose, and encourage everyone to manage their tasks so that they don’t need to work overtime. Encourage exercise by organizing walking groups during lunch hour.

As the business winds down for the year, encourage everyone to acknowledge the extra efforts put forth. Business owners, managers, and every single worker can’t say “thank you” to someone too often, especially at this time of the year.

Holiday Season—Time of Giving & Reflection

[We liked this blog from December 2015 so much that we thought you would enjoy seeing it again!]

The Christmas season reminds us to think about what truly matters.

When the holidays come around every year, our lives suddenly take on a larger meaning than simply living for ourselves.

keep calm holidaysWe begin to think about giving—to charities, to our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We think about those who may not have a Christmas dinner to share, or even a place to live. About those who used to sit around our dinner table, but are no longer with us. Christmas time, it seems, ends up to be a wonderful time of year for celebration, but also a time for remembrance and a touch of sadness.

Christmas is magical in that it reminds us that when we give to others, we emerge with a renewed sense of hope for ourselves and for the entire world.

It is with this spirit of Christmas that I wish everyone a holy and blessed Christmas. May we all adopt what truly matters in our everyday living!