Happy historical holidays! Christmas in Lititz one century ago

By on December 21, 2017

Lititz Square is all decked out for Christmas in this photo taken 100 years ago in December of 1917.

The holidays are now in full swing in Lititz as we anticipate what the jolly old elf may bring us this year.

For generations, the season has been a special time with the glowing street stars, community Christmas tree, window decorations, and so much more.

As we prepare for 2018, let’s take a look back at how Christmas was celebrated here exactly 100 years ago.

Although the conflict of World War I was going strong overseas, a large number of people came back to town that year during the holiday season to reunite with family and friends. Despite the rainy weather, the not-so-white-Christmas did not dampen any spirits. As was the case in years prior, the Christmas tree at the square was placed lovingly in position, and illuminated for the first time on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Lititz Moravian

At the Moravian Church, both the first and second Christmas Eve services were well-attended. The distribution of wax candles among the children was the special feature of this service, a custom which has taken place for many years, along with the sounds of the annual children’s Te Deum chorus signing “We Praise Thee, We Bless Thee’’ in perfect angelic unison.

United Evangelical

Suspended from the church’s ceiling was a giant lighted bell with streamers of laurel extending from above to around the sides of the room. Additionally, the pulpit recess contained a large painting which showed the Wise Men with their camels following the star, painted beautifully by local artist John Mathers. “Bethlehem” was the title of the Christmas program performed that year, and, during the singing, many of the small children stood on the front of the platform holding bunches of greens. As they began to harmonize, mini electric lights which were concealed in the greens became illuminated to the surprise of all in attendance.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

The songs by the children included “Hail to the King,” and, to the delight of the audience, four-year old Theodore Hacker sang “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” Another performance which was especially moving was given by several ladies carrying American and Red Cross flags while all in attendance sang along to “America” as a means to honor those local residents serving overseas.

United Brethren

“One of the best ever” was the statement made by the many persons who enjoyed the Christmas program put on by the United Brethren Sunday school that year. Recitations were given by Sara Oehme, Eva Shissler, Eugene Showers, Nathan Sturgis, and Esther McCreary. There was also a song entitled “The Christmas Aid Society,” which was performed by seven girls. Lastly, a very large lighted star hanging from the ceiling and containing colorful festoons of paper made for especially festive decorations that year.

Also in 1917

Lititz Springs National Bank once again offered its Christmas Club savings plan as consumers took to the streets of Lititz to shop.

Wertsch’s on Main Street carried clocks, watches, and jewelry. During the winter months, W. H. Buch’s supplied a wide selection of coats for adults and children.

Grube’s shoe store also did a brisk business that season, carrying a full line of Packard Bostonian footwear for the men, and LaFrance Mayfair shoes for the ladies.

Zartman’s store, located at the corner of North Broad and Front streets, carried fancy towels, handkerchiefs, and games and toys for all the good little girls and boys around Lititz.

And don’t forget the candy and nuts, all of which could be purchased at Leaman and Leed’s store on North Broad Street.

What a magical season it must have been those 100 years ago this month. While many things have changed, the colors, sights, and sounds during the holiday season around Lititz remains a constant.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Cory Van Brookhoven is a freelance history writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. He is also president of the Lititz Historical Foundation and serves on Lititz Borough Council. He welcomes reader feedback at coryvb@hotmail.com.






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