Speaker Series: A Biography of the American Christmas Tree

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Speaker Series: A Biography of the American Christmas Tree

Scholar and holiday enthusiast, Kellee Bohannon, joins the Field House Museum for “A Biography of the American Christmas Tree.”

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Date and time


The Field House Museum 634 South Broadway St. Louis, MO 63102

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About this event

  • 1 hour
  • Mobile eTicket

We all know that the earliest Christmas trees weren’t grown in aluminum or plastic forests. Nor were they lit with electric lights, let alone LEDs. However, that doesn’t mean we all know what a traditional Christmas tree looked like. Was it cut from an evergreen, a holly, a boxwood, or a sassafras tree? Did it hang from the ceiling, stand on the floor, or rest on a table? Why were early Christmas trees referred to as “Sugar Trees?” What kinds of ornaments did people make and eventually buy? Would they consider adorning their tree with dead animals or earthy potatoes? What kinds of gifts did people think appropriate for the season: practical or indulgent? Did they wrap them or not? You might not know the answers to these questions, but we know someone who does! Join the Field House Museum as we welcome Kellee Bohannon for his discussion, “The Biography of the American Christmas Tree,” and come away with a fresh and surprising take on a custom many take for granted.

Eugene Field wrote several poems dedicated to Christmas, as well as a short story titled “The First Christmas Tree.” This program is free with limited availability in person and on Zoom. Reservations must be made in advance through Eventbrite, by calling the Museum at 314-421-4689, or by emailing info@fieldhousemuseum.org.

About the Speaker

Kellee Bohannon has a BA in History and an MA in Art History from Washington University in St. Louis. Her interest in the development of holiday practices began with her work at the historic sites in Faust Park. Through the programs “Historical Haunting” and “Winter Holiday,” she interpreted how Halloween and Christmas were celebrated in nineteenth-century America. She is an independent scholar and holiday enthusiast who practices what she preaches.