Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 1913

[“13,000 at the Spugs Christmas Party: Band Played, Chorus and Soloists Sang, and Nearly Everybody Danced. 40-Foot Tree Bore Gifts. The Children Got Half a Pound of Candy Each; Luncheon Served to All.” The New York Times, December 26, 1913.]

The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, the Spugs, was the creation of Mrs. August Belmont. Its mission: “to fight petty holiday grafting.” A 1912 Times article attributed to Mrs. Belmont this definition of Spug̢: “a woman who has vowed never again in all her life to give any Christmas gift that is not offered with a whole heart.” The Times described the Spug as “a working girl who has put her foot on all the usual Christmas-time schemes for raising money with which to buy Christmas presents for those ‘higher up,’” such as floorwalkers and head salesladies.

To all who celebrate it, Merry Christmas. May the presents you give and receive be real ones.

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