Days Gone By - stories from the past

Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday [see parade pictures from the 1950s in Alabama]

Note: This story has been reported in newspapers since the 1930s, and is all over the internet including the but the Alabama Department of Archives and History has not found any evidence that it is true. What do you think?

Merry Christmas from Alabama Pioneers!

Did you know that Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. The tradition began in 1836.size (17)

The popularity of Christmas was spurred on in 1820 by Washington Irving’s book The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall. Then in 1834, Britain’s Queen Victoria brought her German husband, Prince Albert, into Windsor Castle, introducing the tradition of the Christmas tree and carols that were held in Europe to the British Empire.

A week before Christmas in 1834, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol (in which he wrote that Scrooge required Cratchit to work, and that the US Congress met on Christmas Day). It was so popular that neither the churches nor the governments could ignore the importance of Christmas celebrations and so in 1836, Alabama became the first state in the US to declare Christmas a legal holiday.

Many Christmas parades take place in cities throughout Alabama every year.   Below are some photographs of parades from our past.

Paul Harvey riding in a convertible, as the grand marshal of a Christmas parade in downtown Russellville, Alabama. December 1975Paul_Harvey_riding_in_a_convertible_as_the_grand_marshal_of_a_Christmas_parade_in_downtown_Russellville_Alabama

WCOV-TV float in the Christmas parade on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama December 1967WCOVTV_float_in_the_Christmas_parade_on_Dexter_Avenue_in_Montgomery_AlabamaAlabama National Bank float in the Christmas parade on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama December 1967Alabama_National_Bank_float_in_the_Christmas_parade_on_Dexter_Avenue_in_Montgomery_Alabama

Band performing in the Christmas parade on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama December 1967Band_performing_in_the_Christmas_parade_on_Dexter_Avenue_in_Montgomery_Alabama

Float in the Christmas parade in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on Bainbridge Street in front of the Capitol. November 24, 1962Float_in_the_Christmas_parade_in_downtown_Montgomery_Alabama_on_Bainbridge_Street_in_front_of_the_Capitol


Books make great Christmas gifts – Check out these by Alabama Author Donna R Causey

Bestselling novel RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1) is the story of a first family in colonial America who fled to America to escape religious persecution, and eventually migrated to Alabama before it became a state – 


About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. In those days people knew how to make a parade awesome. It’s been a long time since I have seen the local parades with the great floats. Yes usually a few nice floats but nothing like when I was growing up. Man I am sounding old…in my days lol

    1. The parade is nothing like it use to be, I didn’t even go this year, nothing but cars,,

    2. Kids today don’t know the joy of big lights…bells crossing streets…everything bright…from thanksgiving til Christmas….parades that last an hour even in our small town….not anymore…it was awesome

  2. That’s good to know, Alabama is known for a lot first things

  3. I see you and my Carolyn and Mary and Linda Sue on this float. Lol

    1. I’m glad you were able to identify some of the people! Thank you for sharing.

  4. This was interesting. I didn’t know this.

  5. Sweet Home Alabama!Merry Christmas!

  6. I’m glad we were first for something important. Thank you past Alabamians

  7. Yeh? Big deal. Do us all a favor and quit spending millions of dollars on advertising! It’s not like you have any competition!! Just makes you look like the robber barons that you are.

  8. At least for first at something… God bless and Merry Christmas

  9. The things I didn’t know!

  10. This was one of the trivia questions on QVC today and Chyenne got it correct…….

  11. There were MANY small towns in Alabama that had Christmas Parades. There were more than Montgomery and Russellville parades. In 1952 Evergreen held its first Christmas Parade and in 1953 one of the Floats was sponsored by the Evergreen Study Club. The float was the 1923 Model T Ford automobile owned by my younger brother, Jimmy and it was decorated to illustrate the radio show, Dragnet. I drove the car and the other front seat was occupied by my close friend, Jan L. Hendrix. The three passengers in the rear seat were women who were members of the sponsoring Study Club. All occupants of the car were dressed to represent prohibition era bootleggers and gangsters. It was a success especially when I’d stall the engine, get out, and restart it with the hand crank. THERE WERE NO PHTOS TAKEN, but; if anyone has a photo of the float I’d dearly love to have a copy.
    Dave McKenzie 517-545-8888, Howell, Michigan

  12. I can believe that. We are no 1 in everything.

  13. My thought, too! Nice to have a First!

  14. I grew up a small town of less than 1500 in south Alabama, Christmas parades were a big thing in the 1960’s when I marched in the high school band, and then got old enough to drive a tractor pulling floats (the FFA boys).
    People came to enjoy the parade, the marching bands, the floats, and celebrate Christmas, not to catch candy and stuffed animals. Oh the good ole days, miss them!!!

  15. Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s not true. There is no historical evidence to support this false claim that keeps being repeated each year. No act, no legislative resolution, just a claim written in a book over 50 years with no footnotes or references to the source of this statement.

    1. Thanks for the research Debbie!

    2. Julie – during all my years at the Archives we’ve had to put up with this nonsense each season. It’s not Christmas until we see the first telling of the story. Our research staff have spent countless hours trying to find the first shred of evidence to make this true, but it’s never been found.

  16. Google it, and you will find details!!

  17. I doubt many know the story of Christmas as a holiday. I’m a istory major
    and this was all new to me. Thanks very much!!!

  18. Too bad y’all didn’t know Christmas (Christ’s MASS) is anti-biblical and that the Heavenly Father hates such “holidays,” (which is just a perversion of the words “holy day”). It is written:

    “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.” (Amos 5:21)

    Even the founder of the Presbyterian denomination, John Knox, knew which end was up regarding Christmas (Christ’s Mass):

    “About the same time the feast of Christmas was introduced to our ancestors. ‘The vulgar persuasion is,’ says Buchanan, ‘that these festivities celebrated the birth of Christ, when, in truth, they refer, as is sufficiently evident, to the lascivious rites of the Bacchanalia, and not to the memory of our Saviour’s nativity.’ It is probable that this was originally the Gothic pagan feast of Yule, or Zul, so called in Scotland to this day; see Dr Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary on the word, Yule.

    We know the Popes instructed their missionaries not to abolish, but rather adopt the heathen rites of the people among whom they introduced Christianity, and adapt them to Christian worship. This was the source of innumerable corruptions; and with regard to this festival, it not only opened a door for all manner of licentiousness, but also bound the churches to the acknowledgment of a thing as true which never has been proved,—that Christ was born on the 25th of December, which rests on no credible authority. Our neighbours in the south ((ROME)) condemn our reformers for rejecting this holiday. With much more reason we wonder at their retaining it.” (The History of The Reformation of Religion in Scotland, John Knox, 1841, Introduction pp. 13, 14)

    Knox also wrote, “That God’s word damns your ceremonies, it is evident; for the plain and straight commandment of God is, ‘Not that thing which appears good in thy eyes, shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but what the Lord thy God has commanded thee, that do thou: add nothing to it; diminish nothing from it.’ Now unless that ye are able to prove that God has commanded your ceremonies, this his former commandment will damn both you and them.” —John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland —Ed. by William Croft Dickinson; New York: Philosophical Library, 1950, Vol. 1, p. 91

    Charles H. Spurgeon said, “How absurd to think we could do it in the spirit of the world, with a Jack Frost clown, a deceptive worldly Santa Claus, and a mixed program of sacred truth with fun, deception and fiction. If it be possible to honor Christ in the giving of gifts, I cannot see how while the gift, giver, and recipient are all in the spirit of the world. The Catholics and high Church Episcopalians may have their Christmas one day in 365 but we have a Christ gift the entire year.” — (Dec. 24, 1871; Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, p. 697)

    The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob said, “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of YHWH your God. ‘When YHWH your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the YHWH your God in that way; for every abomination to YHWH which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. ‘Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.'” (Deuteronomy 12:28-32)

    Don’t pat yourselves on the back about what you did with Christmas (Christ’s Mass), Alabama, for you did the wrong thing.

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