A History of Christmas in Alexandria – The Zebra


The Office of Historic Alexandria’s 2020 holiday ornament commemorates the restoration of the 1858 Prettyman Fire Hose Reel.
(All photos: Alexandria Archive)

By the Office of Historic Alexandria

Alexandria, VA – While Christmas has been part of Alexandria’s history since the beginning, did you know that our current traditions, including Santa Claus, were adapted more recently?

The American concept of Santa Claus was popularized during the Civil War. Alexandria’s merchants bought into the new tradition whole-heartedly, including organizing a Christmas Parade on King Street during the first half of the 20th century. During this most unusual of holiday seasons, we’d like to highlight some of the traditions that will continue this year and some that have been suspended.

Our common image of Santa Claus first made its appearance in the winter of 1862 of Harper’s Weekly. Thomas Nast, better known for his portrayal of