First Cherokee Christmas

December 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017
122 E Keetoowah St
Tahlequah, OK 74464

In 1801, Moravian missionaries were invited into Cherokee Nation to establish a mission at Springplace, located in modern day northwest Georgia. Tribal leaders at the time welcomed them because they opened a school to educate local Cherokee children. Educating future generations was one of the most important themes in Cherokee Nation. Along with education and religion, the Moravians also brought holiday celebrations. In 1805, they were invited by James Vann to his plantation home in Georgia to hold the first Christmas celebration in Cherokee Nation. The first Christmas was a small celebration where the missionaries and Cherokees decorated Vann’s house with natural materials and beeswax candles. They made Moravian stars out of paper and wrote scriptures down on scrolls to decorate the Christmas tree. They displayed a traditional putz, which is a hand carved nativity scene to which families would add new pieces every year. The entirety of the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum will be decked out in natural decorations common to the year 1805.

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