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A quieter, simpler holiday celebration

In small rural New England towns, in the early 1800s, no fragrant evergreen wreaths graced the doors of the village church. Children didn't eagerly hang stockings by the chimney. And few people exchanged colorfully wrapped gifts.

The reason was that the Puritans, who made up the majority of the region's residents, avoided all observances not mentioned in the Bible.

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The first Christmas trees appeared in New England in 1832, but they didn't gain acceptance in rural areas until the 1850s and '60s.

On long winter evenings, families gathered around the fire and played games, sang, and told stories. Boys whittled toy animals and girls made rag dolls.

Source: Old Sturbridge Village

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society