The Lincoln Home is decorated for the Christmas season. Holiday
decorations were fairly simple before the Civil War, and other than
German families, most families did not have a Christmas tree in
their homes, but instead went to see a tree at their church.
Although the Lincolns did not have a Christmas tree, they probably
followed the fashion of draping the windows and mantels with
evergreen garlands, cranberry ropes and holly. Poinsettias, just
discovered in the 1850s, might have decorated their home, along with
The younger Lincoln boys made sure to have big brother Robert
help them hang stockings on the sitting room fireplace for Santa to
fill with firecrackers, books and carved wooden animals. Gifts that
might have been given to other members of the family are also
exhibited throughout the house.
Food was an important part of the season then as it is now, and
many of the goodies are displayed throughout the house. A typical
mid-1800s holiday menu included boned turkey, oysters, venison,
chicken salad, bouillon, glazed fruit, fruitcake, ice cream, cake,
candy, macaroon pyramids, preserves and hot coffee. Cookies and
gingerbread were popular with the Lincoln boys.
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In keeping with the simpler decorations of the times, the
Lincoln neighborhood is decorated with wreaths and greenery.
Decorations will remain up through Jan. 2.
The Lincoln Home, operated by the National Park Service, is open
for guided tours every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Free tickets for the tours may be picked up at the Visitor Center,
426 S. Seventh St., open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., with the last tour going
into the Lincoln Home at 4:30. Tickets are not needed to walk around
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees
care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the
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opportunities. For more information, visit