Think about Christmas dinner, and you’ll likely conjure up a picture of a happy family seated around a large roast turkey or ham. That’s certainly the traditional yuletide meal, but it hasn't always been that way. As you’ll see from this gallery of historical holiday photos, some parts of Christmas dinners have remained remarkably similar, while others have changed considerably over the past century or so. Which of these lost Christmas customs would you like to bring back?
Christmas on the farm — early 1900s
Somehow, the three soldiers in this undated snapshot ended up enjoying their Christmas dinner in a barn. But it’s not just any old barn — it’s one with Christmas decorations. What the cow and her calf think about sharing their residence with three men chowing down on dinner remains unknowable, but this picture does have some nice parallels to the classic Nativity scene.
Free Christmas dinner — 1905
This shot from 1905 illustrates the fact that not everyone had the wherewithal to provide themselves with a lavish Christmas dinner. But luckily, in Denver, Colorado, at least, the Volunteers of America were there to fill the gap. And the charity is still going strong today. But does the turkey know what the future holds?
Salvation Army Christmas dinner — 1910
And five years later, when this photo was taken in 1910 in New York, there were obviously still those who didn’t have the price of a Christmas dinner. This time, it’s the Salvation Army Santa Claus who is stepping in to help people who are short of funds. Santa was apparently going to be serving Christmas dinner for 25,000.
A German WWI Christmas — 1916
This time we are in 1916 as the First World War rages on. We’re with a party of German soldiers who are actually cooking up a rabbit stew for their New Year’s dinner. The makeshift stove is something to behold. And it’s a pleasure to see the ingeniously improvised Christmas tree that the soldiers have erected.