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Christmas In Illinois

U of I Press

Our Christmas traditions were not always how the holy day was observed in Illinois. In fact Christmas was not much of a celebration until the middle of the 19th century. Charlie Schlenker talks by Skype with retired Bradley University history professor James Ballowe about his book, Christmas in Illinois. Ballowe says one of the essays in the work is by Marcia Young, the retired manager of the David Davis Mansion historic site in Bloomington. That talks about the rise of the Christmas tradition in central Illinois.

James Ballowe is a retired Professor of History at Bradley University in Peoria. He lives in Ottawa, Illinois.

Find out how Ballowe engaged his curatorial sensibilities in assembling the book.


More on Christmas before Illinois statehood.


Christmas in Illinois contains writings, articles, and even recipes that show the holiday in the context of the cultural history of Illinois. The book is now out in paperback from the U of I Press.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.