"American Christmases in the mid-19th century do not seem to have had much religious significance – neither for the callithumpians, nor the proto-shopaholics, nor anyone else. Many, if not most, Protestant churches did not even have Christmas services, though some staged holiday parties, pageants, and “entertainments.” The New-York Tribune remarked in 1860 that only gradually was the festival starting to become as widely observed as more important national celebrations like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day."
Ghosts of a Christmas Past - NYTimes.com. Fascinating! If you aren’t already following the Disunion blog on the NYTimes, I strongly recommend you do so.