History of the Holidays

The History Channel Premiered Jan 01, 2008 Unknown


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Episode Guide


  • Latest Videos
    • 11/22/10
      The story of Thanksgiving, with its costumed Pilgrims, turkeys and pumpkin pie, zigzags through American history with some surprising twists. At the iconic Thanksgiving feast of 1621--no pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce was served, and that event was wiped from the history books for 200 years! In the 19th Century, some southern states thought Thanksgiving was an abolitionist plot and refused to celebrate it. Thanksgiving didn't become an annual national holiday until World War II. What started as a somber Puritan day of prayer is now about football and food. How did we get there?moreless
    • 10/26/10
      It began centuries ago as a pagan holiday that honored the dead and warned of a netherworld of spirits and ghosts. Today, it has morphed into a day for breaking rules, pushing boundaries and wearing disguises. But Halloween remains a time for us to deal with our own mortality. Our modern Halloween traditions have ancient roots--people were going door to door and begging for treats on Halloween night as far back as the Middle Ages. Halloweens past have been wilder and more dangerous than they are now. During the depression, Halloween became so violent and destructive that civil authorities had to step in and prevent wide-spread vandalism in cities across America. Their solution, the ritual now generates $2 billion dollars in candy sales each season. And these days adults get dressed up for the holiday almost as much as kids do. But no matter how many jack-o-lanterns get carved or kids yell "trick-or-treat!" Halloween is still all about the "scare.moreless
    • 11/30/10
      Did you know that the quaint custom of Christmas caroling actually began with drunk and rowdy revelers threatening people door to door looking for food and liquor? Early versions of the heartwarming legend of Santa Claus described him as a horrible devil named Krampus who beat and kidnapped naughty children. In America during the 17th and 18th Centuries, celebrating Christmas was against the law! There's a lot to tell about the history of Christmas, and a lot you may not know. Along the way, meet Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey, The Grinch and Rudolph, and learn the true origins of our Christmas traditions. So grab some eggnog and a slice of fruitcake as HISTORY unwraps The Real Story of Christmas.moreless
    • In Ireland, March 17th is a feast day honoring the bishop who Christianized the island; but in America it's a boisterous celebration of Irish heritage. We'll march up New York City's Fifth Avenue with over 150,000 celebrants at the largest and oldest parade on the day all Americans are Irish. With Andrew Greeley and Frank McCourt.moreless
    • The depths of your celebrations, commemorations and carousing are revealed in this exciting collection from HISTORY. This summer, put on your red, white and blue and get ready to rejoice in the truth behind Independence Day with The History of the 4th of July. First observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, the Fourth was not declared a legal holiday until 1941. Now an annual celebration honoring the courage and faith of our founding fathers in their pursuit of liberty, Independence Day is traditionally celebrated publicly with parades and pageants, patriotic speeches, and fireworks displays, and privately through family picnics and barbecues. Uncover with HISTORY the story behind America's birthday and the sacrifices made by the extraordinary leaders who, at great personal risk, struggled to unite a young nation. Check back often for more additions to the History of the Holidays collection.moreless
    • We all think we know the history of America's holidays, especially Thanksgiving. The story goes that after a horrible winter, a small group of Massachusetts Pilgrims were so thankful to be alive, they threw a feast for themselves and their Native-American neighbors. That's true, but Thanksgiving didn't become a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln declared the first one in 1863. These days, we celebrate Thanksgiving with feasting, family and football. How did we get from Plymouth Rock to a day we stop to cherish all that it means to be home?moreless
    • Trick or treating, costume parties, bowls of candy by the door...It's how we celebrate Halloween. But where do these customs come from? On October 31, when pint-sized ghouls and goblins knock on doors, they're actually carrying on a tradition that goes back thousands of years to the Celtic tribes of northern Europe. For centuries this night has celebrated mystery and chaos, a time between summer and winter, a time between life and death. Join us for the spookiest night of the year, The Haunted History of Hallowenmoreless
    • Fascinating story of how the bawdy Roman Saturnalia, a week-long festival of food and drink that culminated on December 25, became the centerpiece of the Christian year, and why the holiday is known as much for shopping as the birth of Christ. Interviews with experts, harried bargain hunters, and excited children round out the program.moreless