Christmas Humor of the 19th Century

Introduction: In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak searches old newspapers to find our ancestors’ Christmas humor from the 19th century. Mary is a genealogist, author, and editor with a strong technology background who has written and collected some of the funniest, quirkiest, or most touching sayings about genealogy that she’s encountered in her career as a family historian. Please attribute this article if sharing.

From jokes about holes in stockings to ones about Santa, there’s a myriad of old-time humor just waiting to be found in old newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives. Below find some of this year’s picks. Hope you enjoy them!

Here’s a mischievous use of mistletoe:

Photo: 1895 Puck Christmas issue
Photo: 1895 Puck Christmas issue. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Note: With just a few exceptions (for example, by the humorist with the pseudonym “Puck”), these Christmas jokes were shared from paper to paper and printed with no attribution, which is why this article features them by date.


Christmas humor, Mississippi Free Trader newspaper article 13 March 1850
Mississippi Free Trader (Natchez, Mississippi), 13 March 1850, page 2


  • “The muss that children are anxious to get into: Christmuss.”
  • “A young man who gave his girl a $75 gold watch last Christmas, married her during the summer, and now he thinks the present was ‘time’ well spent.”
Christmas humor, Anderson Intelligencer newspaper article 23 December 1880
Anderson Intelligencer (Anderson, South Carolina), 23 December 1880, page 5


Motto for Christmas card:

“You know that I love you,
and love you right hard,
or why would I trouble
to send you this card?”


  • “Never look a gift horse in the mouth – not even a Christmas rocking-horse.”
  • “The boy who gets more than he expected is hard to find.”
  • “The Christmases past are often in the memories of the old folks, but the young people only think of the Christmas present.”
Christmas humor, Cambria Freeman newspaper article 20 December 1889
Cambria Freeman (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), 20 December 1889, page 5


  • “Where there’s a Christmas will there’s a Christmas way.”
  • “The bad boy can become very good around Christmas time.”
  • “Best presents of all: the full stomach and the contented mind.”
  • “This is about the time of year when nearly everybody seems to think it is more blessed to receive than to give.”
  • “An old cotton stocking will hold as much as a silk one.”


Mistletoe again…

Christmas humor, Goodland Republic newspaper article 16 December 1892
Goodland Republic (Goodland, Kansas), 16 December 1892, page 3

Hope you have enjoyed these humorous Christmas posts – but remember, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or otherwise, we wish all of our readers a very happy and humorous holiday season!



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