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Christmas in July: How the Civil War Transformed the Holiday

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Gettysburg Heritage Center

297 Steinwehr Avenue

Gettysburg, PA 17325

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“Christmas and the Civil War” is a fun, interesting overview of how the Civil War transformed Christmas into the modern holiday Americans enjoy today. In particular it looks at how the famed illustrator and political cartoonist, Thomas Nast (with the assistance of Abraham Lincoln) used the holiday and the image of Santa Claus to bolster the Union cause and reunite the nation.

Nast took many of the aspects of Christmas coming from different cultures and blended them into a uniquely American form of Christmas – both in terms of customs and images. Nast’s work and the Civil War’s impact on our country changed the nature and scope of the Christmas holiday and led it to become the national holiday we celebrate today.

The presentation will be given by Brad Stone wearing the Santa Claus costume that Thomas Nast created for the December 1862 cover of Harper’s Weekly. Mr. Stone has a deep interest in the Civil War and serves as a docent at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD and the USS Constellation in Baltimore Harbor.

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Gettysburg Heritage Center

297 Steinwehr Avenue

Gettysburg, PA 17325

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