by Karen Mehall Phillips - Tuesday, December 25, 2018
We’ll ring in the new year next week, but today is for “shooting in” Christmas. Never heard of that holiday tradition? NRAHLF.org hadn’t either, but you just never know what you will find on the Internet.
I read that one interesting custom, now most associated with New Year’s Eve, was the “shooting in of Christmas.” The Henry Ford website, and historical organization, explains that in the decades leading into the Civil War, both urban and rural Americans participated in this fun tradition. The goal? To make as much noise as possible. Of course, guns were the best noisemakers of the day as people walked from farm to farm—often shooting a coordinated volley just outside a friend’s window—to usher in the holiday in the loudest, most enthusiastic way possible.
Now even in the 1800s, such merriment got quite intense in urban areas. For example, the website reports that during Christmastime in 1848, the screams of alarmed ladies in Pittsburgh filled the city after a young rogue discharged his fire crackers at their feet. “Wretched is now the youngest who cannot raise powder; and proud, indeed, is the warlike owner of a pistol.” In addition to firing guns, home-made explosive devices, including rockets, flares and roman candles, were also popular for welcoming Christmas.
Of course, times have changed and for good reason. In the 21st century, the tradition of making noise is saved more for New Year’s Eve—with noisemakers that you buy at the local party supply store.
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