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Holiday Music & Traditions of the Mohawk Valley

Posted 12/2/22

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire and a brightly decorated Christmas tree are relatively modern traditions of Christmas.

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Holiday Music & Traditions of the Mohawk Valley

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ROME —  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire and a brightly decorated Christmas tree are relatively modern traditions of Christmas. For residents of the Mohawk Valley in colonial times, the traditions were much more varied. The Rome Historical Society - Friends of the Fort and Fort Stanwix National Monument will be hosting a look back at holiday music and winter traditions of the Mohawk Valley at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

Colonial America was a melting pot of people from varied nations and traditions. The Puritans of New England did not celebrate Christmas at all. The early German and English immigrants to the Mohawk Valley were more accustomed to celebrating the holiday. In combining elements from various cultures, America developed its own unique traditions.

The custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. Yule is the name of the old Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, such as Germany. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

Through research from the 1700s, William Sawyer, park ranger for over 30 years, will present songs and stories looking at the various American holiday traditions in the Mohawk Valley and how the different cultures contributed to a shared version of the holiday.

The program is free and open to the public. The Rome Historical Society is located at 200 Church Street, Rome,and is a non-profit organization.

For more information, call 315-336-5870, like them on Facebook, or visit their website at www.romehistoricalsociety.org.

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