Historical Photographs: How Westchester County Residents Celebrated Christmas in the Past

A glimpse back at how Westchester residents celebrated Christmases past



Sure, some of the festivities, fashions, and foods have changed a bit since these photos of local Yuletide celebrations were snapped from the early 1900s to the mid ’50s. Certainly, we’re seeing fewer lumps of coal, stockings and sweater sets, and roast goose with plum pudding—and more one-size-fits-all gift cards, comfy fleece wear, and gourmet takeout. But the time-honored tradition of sharing the joy of the holiday with family and friends remains unchanged. However—or whatever—you celebrate, best wishes for the happiest of holidays and a terrific 2012 from everyone here at Westchester Magazine. Meanwhile, enjoy our album of Christmases past.

Photo reprinted with permission from Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. Available at www.arcadiapublishing.com or by calling 888-313-2665

Ice Escapades—Skating on lakes, ponds, and even the Hudson was a popular holiday pastime in the early 1900s as shown in this photo taken in front of the Tarrytown Boat Club in Tarrytown. We like the bowler hats and newsboy caps more than the hair-flattening winter hats of today, but we are worried about their ears.
Boys and Their Toys—Lyndhurst’s Woody Crest boys pose in costume—not for Halloween, but in front of a Christmas tree in Tarrytown in 1905.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of White Plains Historical Society

Jingle Bells—In earlier days, jingle bell-festooned horses signaled a sleigh’s approach—inspiring one of the season’s most loved carols, “Jingle Bells.” This photo was taken around 1906 on Central Avenue in White Plains.
All Dressed Up—The members of a Yonkers Ukrainian Society—thought to be Taras Shevchenko Center—dressed as the Three Kings and shepherds for Christmas in 1928. Members went around the village caroling and collecting funds for St. Michael’s Church in Yonkers.

Photo courtesy of Hastings Historical Society

Photo courtesy of Bronxville Local History Room

Westchester’s Own Wise Men—A scene from Bronxville’s Christmas pageant of 1928, a tradition that has continued to the present day, complete—despite modern regulations—with a live donkey.
The Sounds of Music—A quartet at Rye Playland trolls the ancient Yuletide carols in 1930.

Photo courtesy of Westchester County Archives

Photo courtesy of The Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library

Ringing In The Season—Salvation Army bell-ringers start the season of giving in Port Chester, circa 1940s
Let’s Hear It From the Girls.—A greeting card dated Christmas 1942-’43 featuring the female employees of a chemical company located on the water in Hastings. The card, in almost stereotypical mid-century fashion, was signed from the “Girls of
Zinsser & Co.”

Photo courtesy of Hastings Historical Society

Photo courtesy of Hastings Historical Society

Dashing Through the Snow—Sue Lindemann (later Staropoli) takes the plunge down the huge pile of snow dumped off the side of the Warburton Avenue Bridge in Hastings-on-Hudson following the Blizzard of 1947. Looking on, without so much as a mitten between them, are Phyllis Schumm, Jimmy McCue, Bill Costello, Steve Ravinsky, and Jack Ayres. Their mothers might not have approved, but some activities are always fun.
White Out—Looking east on Post Road toward the intersection of Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains after the Christmas blizzard of 1947. Note the Christmas tree on the roof of the B. Altman & Company building, that retailer’s first suburban store, located on the northeast corner. No word on how quickly they got their roads cleared.

Photo courtesy of White Plains Historical Society

Photo courtesy of Hastings Historical Society


Family Fireside Chat—The Hill family celebrating Christmas 1952 in the living room of their Hastings home. Shown left to right: mother Betty, seated; daughter Diana in foreground; family dog Penny, hoping for a Christmas treat; son Robert Barr (in wheelchair—he was wounded in the Korean War); daughter Pat; and father George.

 

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