33. Holidays on the Frontier

Life on the frontier was difficult, however celebrating holidays helped to alleviate boredom and isolation. Before the Civil War, Christmas was not an official holiday in the United states. It was not celebrated uniformly across the nation. By the mid 19th century the holiday’s importance began to grow.


After the Civil War ended, popular magazines and newspapers promoted the importance of Christmas to highlight the importance of family unity and remembering those lost. In 1870, congress passed the first federal holiday law and made Christmas an official holiday.

Fort Leavenworth Christmas menu, 1898. Frontier Army Museum collection.
Christmas card, 1893 (front). Frontier Army Museum collection.
Christmas card, 1893 (back). Frontier Army Museum collection.