Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the CWI!

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An early depiction of Santa Claus from the Civil War Era. This illustration by Thomas Nast first appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1863. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

For your holiday enjoyment, our social media coordinator Megan McNish ’16 has put together a Buzzfeed quiz where you can figure out what role you would have played during the Civil War. Would you have served on the front lines or stayed at home and supported the war effort? Click here to take the quiz and find out!

And, if you missed it over Thanksgiving, she also made one about what Civil War food matches your personality (Don’t take it personally if you receive desiccated vegetables. Yours truly did as well.)

Happy holidays from the students and staff of the CWI!

From Tragedy to a Christmas Carol: The Story of Longfellow’s "Christmas Bells"

By Jen Simone ’18

In times of intense despair, it can seem impossible to have any hope. All of us get caught up in the tragedies occurring all around us and begin to believe that life is a constant struggle without any good in it. Christmas time, though often a time of mourning for people who have recently lost loved ones, also is a time of restored hope for many.

Christmas carolers may arrive at your door this season offering to sing the carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The carol tells of a man who is troubled by the hateful world, but then has hope restored as he is reminded of God’s power. Though two stanzas concerning the Civil War were removed for the carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was based on the poem “Christmas Bells” written during the Civil War by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1868 with the beard he grew to cover his burn scars. Photography via Wikimedia Commons.

The poem begins with the peacefulness that characterizes Christmas:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Continue reading “From Tragedy to a Christmas Carol: The Story of Longfellow’s "Christmas Bells"”