Many of the traditions that we associate with our holiday celebrations originated in Victorian times.  Individuals came here from all over the world, bringing their customs and traditions with them.  19th Century Jacksonville adopted and adapted many of these traditions into how we celebrate various holidays.   

For over a century, the Fourth of July was the biggest holiday celebrated in Jacksonville, closely followed by Thanksgiving.  Christmas was a time for family gatherings.  Valentines Day meant loving (or not so loving) cards for friends and suitors. And in the 19th Century, Halloween was all tricks, no treats, until townsfolk tired of the pranks and introduced “sweet” alternatives.  Over the course of the year, we’ll visit various holidays, so join us as we explore the origins of our holiday traditions and how Jacksonville adopted and adapted them!


New Years 

New Years was the traditional day for gift giving until the Victorians moved gift giving to Christmas.  So in the late 19th Century, the start of the new year became a time for dances, social calls, and resolutions.  Learn about the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, “First Foot,” and Jacksonville’s many costume balls.   Learn more…





Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd   – Groundhog Day.  And once again we have the Germans and the Victorian Era to thank for this U.S. holiday custom.  According to this tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on February 2nd and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather.  No shadow means an early spring.  So how did a groundhog become a weather forecaster?  Learn more…


Valentine’s Day

No one knows the true origins of Valentine’s Day.  Some believe that because the Romans observed Lupercalia on February 14th celebrating a nature deity, that birds chose their mates around that date. 

Others believe that Valentinus, who had a far different experience with the Romans (martyrdom), sent a letter of affection to his jailer’s daughter on the eve of his execution.  There is, of course, no evidence that any of this is true.  Learn more…

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