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Press Release
Akron’s Holiday History by Michael Cohill
From its founding in 1825 until the 1850’s the Winter holidays were very different
from those we know today. Struggling settlers took little notice of the day called
Christmas. It was a day like any other, a workday and for children, a school day. In
the early churches Christmas was mentioned during Sunday sermons in December,
but that was about all. The most solemn and spiritual day of the year was Thanks-
giving, and everyone celebrated this important holiday in Akron.
Christmas, as we know it today, began to take form when German immigrants
started arriving in the 1850’s who brought with them the Christmas traditions of their
'Fatherland." Akronites found these celebrations so charming they embraced and
adopted them as their own.
Around this time, the children of Akron began hanging up their stockings in hopes that
St. Nicholas would fill them with candy, nuts and oranges. The first mention of a
Christmas tree appears in an Akron newspaper during the 1860’s;
"It was decided that a Christmas tree would best please the children, and the Church was the placed
selected for the festival. . . upon entering the Church a murmur of surprise and inexpressible de light escaped
from the lips of the astonished children when they saw the evergreen transfigured, blazing with waxen tapers,
and be decked with gifts of showy beauty"   The Ohio General Assembly made December 25th an official holiday
in 1870. By the 1880s, the business of Christmas in Akron filled downtown with shoppers. Merchants - - anxious
for the extra trade - - recommended that one gift be for fun, one useful, one a book and one be so fine.” 
Christmas trees were sold at almost every street corner and pantries were stocked with sweet breads, meats and
spirits, lavish private parties and civic festivals were held and community leaders encouraged helping those less
fortunate to make their lives a little brighter.  The family Christmas dinner was for most parts the same as
Thanksgiving where a big wholesome turkey was roasted. But, an important feature on German tables that didn't
quite catch on with others, was a cooked goose. Many German residents raised geese in their backyards, which is
why the neighborhood southeast of downtown where the German community lived was called Goosetown.