The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, decorating and traveling makes me want to write “CHRISTMAS TO BE OVER” on my wish list to ol’ Saint Nick. That’s why I’ve decided to take a step back and find out the history behind these seasonal necessities, instead of spinning around in a blind fury of tinsel. 

Before Coca-Cola was placing a tall, cold, glass of soda in Santa Claus’ hand, America’s favorite holiday didn’t have our current traditions until the mid 19th century. I mean, how did a fat man in a red suit get so deep rooted into popular culture?

In 1821, an anonymous poem was published in a popular children’s book. This poem referred to a “Santeclaus” and was the first mention of a character based on St. Nicholas having a sleigh. Fun Fact: St. Nicholas in Dutch is “Sinterklaas” which would eventually evolve into our English “Santa Claus” which would eventually evolve into Tim Allen.

The tradition of the Christmas tree originated in Germany, but it didn’t gain popularity in British and American society until Queen Victoria’s husband, the German-born Prince Albert, decorated a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841. Illustrations of the tree were published in America a year later. The tree became a fashionable home-decor necessity for upper class homes. I can understand this considering I want every outfit Princess Kate wears.

What else in the 19th century sparked our current holiday traditions? What traditions have been put to rest?

Find out by going to the Kelton House Museum & Garden Holiday Tour. From November 26, 2011 through January 6, 2012, The Kelton House will celebrate the holidays with a special tour of the Victorian-era Museum and teach you a little holiday history. This is the only home in Columbus that has been preserved exactly how life was from 1850 to 1900.

The Holiday Tour includes a display of 19th century Christmas ornaments from a collection provided by local collector Michael Girard.  Visitors will be able to see feather trees, handcrafted and glass ornaments, scenic cardboard villages, and observe how Santa Claus has changed over the years.

This truly beautiful home and tour is the perfect opportunity for you to slow down and enjoy the lovely holiday season.

The Details: The museum offers an audio tour Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. (last tour begins at 3 p.m.).

Docent-led tours are available on Fridays from 12 noon - 2 p.m. and Sundays at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m. Reservations are not required.

Tours for groups of six or more can be scheduled throughout the week by calling the Kelton House Museum and Garden at 614-464-2022.

Ticket prices are Adults $6, Seniors $4, Children 6 and over $2. For more information, call 614.464.2022 or visit

586 East Town Street, Columbus, OH

-Post by Allison