U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer
As we prepare for Christmas, many of us return to traditions as a way to celebrate the season. Christmas in America is a unique experience and over the centuries our nation has created many unique traditions. But as a student of our nation’s history, I recently came across some research that indicates that the first Christmas celebrated in the New World was observed in what many would deem an odd place.
According to historians, the first Christmas celebrated on land that is now part of the United States took place near Tallahassee, Fl., in 1539. The publication Discovery News reports that Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto established his winter encampment site of 1539-40 near what is now Tallahassee, where he and his men celebrated the first U.S. Christmas.
Based on excavations and other historical research, the first Christmas meal would have included pork, local vegetables, fruits, seafood and possibly even turkey. Researchers also found that it was likely the first Christmas mass would have been held outside and would have been very similar to those held in a Franciscan chapel.
I think it’s important during this time of year, when presents and parties and all the other trappings of the season seem to consume so much of our time, that Christmas is first and foremost the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. And I find it truly remarkable that 250 years before we became a nation, Christmas was celebrated as part of the Christian faith.
Even as many of our Christian traditions seem to be under attack this time of year, the teachings of the man born in Bethlehem that stress love, charity, and hope remain very much part of the American Christmas tradition. You can see it everywhere, if you look hard enough.
You see the Christmas spirit in the thousands of volunteers who participate in programs that help the less fortunate. From the Christmas Day dinners at local shelters to the Angel Trees at the malls to provide gifts for children – Americans do indeed keep the spirit of Christmas.
As much as some try to take the Christ out of Christmas, there is no denying that from centuries before we were a nation, Christmas held a very sacred meaning to those Spanish explorers who settled in Florida and celebrated the birth of Christ. Despite the best attempts of many to distance our nation from the true meaning of Christmas, it is simply impossible. It is part of American tradition and will continue to be so.
On behalf of myself, my family and my staff I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God Bless.
CONTACT US: I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns.