Holiday Festivities in the Newspapers

It’s the holiday season! Let’s take a look at all the ways people in Maryland have celebrated Chanukah and Christmas over the years found in historic Maryland newspapers from Chronicling America.

Frostburg mining journal. [volume] (Frostburg, Md.), 16 Dec. 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025350/1893-12-16/ed-1/seq-5/>

In 1914, citizens of Frederick City were “gladdened by entertainment of songs and pastimes” when lighting a candle each night of Chanukah, commemorating the Maccabees defeat of the Seleucid empire (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/history-and-overview-of-the-maccabees).

The citizen. (Frederick City, Md.), 18 Dec. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060092/1914-12-18/ed-1/seq-8/>

In 1921, the “Feast of Lights” in Annapolis was celebrated in a similar fashion.

Evening capital and Maryland gazette. (Annapolis, Md.), 23 Dec. 1921. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88065726/1921-12-23/ed-1/seq-1/>

You can find many variations on the spelling of Chanukah in Maryland historic newspapers, such as Hanukkah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, or Chanukka. If you’d like to search Chronicling America for more information on this holiday’s festivities, it’s good to keep this in mind. Surprisingly, you’ll find many mentions of Chanukah (and other spellings) in the Der Deutsche Correspondent–the German newspaper in Baltimore. Go see for yourself!

In 1940, the Greenbelt Cooperator reported on the Greenbelt High School students decorating classrooms “holly, drawings, and Christmas trees” in the week leading up to the holiday. During home rooms on the final day of classes, students “held parties with refreshments, entertainment and exchange of gifts,” with some classes pairing up for bigger parties.

Greenbelt cooperator. (Greenbelt, Md.), 26 Dec. 1940. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89061521/1940-12-26/ed-1/seq-6/>

In 1942, The Midland Journal shared a picture of U.S. sailors braving the weather in the Arctic zone and playing Christmas music.

The midland journal. (Rising Sun, Md.), 25 Dec. 1942. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060136/1942-12-25/ed-1/seq-4/>

There are many ways that people celebrate the winter solstice and holiday season. No matter what you have planned this year, maybe you could try this sweet treat from The Midland Journal:

The midland journal. (Rising Sun, Md.), 04 Dec. 1942. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060136/1942-12-04/ed-1/seq-6/>

Otherwise, be sure to make sure you’re being safe this year! You can take these precautions:

The midland journal. (Rising Sun, Md.), 20 Dec. 1946. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060136/1946-12-20/ed-1/seq-1/>

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday!

To read more about different holiday traditions in the historic newspapers, visit the Chronicling America newspaper database, and be sure to follow @HistoricMDNews on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

This post is part of a monthly guest blog post series featuring the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and Chronicling America. The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project at University of Maryland Libraries is the Maryland state awardee of the National Digital Newspaper Program. National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress developed this program for state partners to digitize historic newspapers from across the country and make them freely accessible in the Chronicling America newspaper database.


Bryanna Bauer is a student assistant for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and a second year MLIS student in the College of Information Studies. Additionally, Bauer is a Digital Curation Fellow at the National Agricultural Library in partnership with the iSchool.

4 thoughts on “Holiday Festivities in the Newspapers

  1. I loved this post, especially the precautions for a safe Christmas! About finding mentions of Hanukkah/Chanukah in Der Deutsche Correspondent: Baltimore has a long German Jewish history as one of the oldest and largest Jewish communities in the country. An influx of German Jews arrived in Baltimore in the mid-1800s. Glad to see the German-language city newspaper reflected that population around the holidays! https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/baltimore-jewish-history-tour

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