Some 200 years ago, people celebrated Christmas not with family meals and cutely wrapped gifts, rather by getting “stinking drunk in public,” reports NPR.
“I guess [the way] Christmas used to be celebrated, you’d just get drunk,” says University of California, Santa Barbara historian Erika Rappaport.
Christmas was one of the few times that working-class men had off, and many would use it to blow their wages drinking and gambling at the pub.
Then, in the 1830s, teetotalers set their sights on Christmas and turned it into, wait for it, a tea holiday. Members of the movement in the U.S. and the U.K. would hold massive tea parties, often on Christmas Eve, in halls festooned with pine tree boughs and fruit. As many as 4,000 working and middle-class attendees would drink tea at long tables, while listening to a sermon or the testimony of reformed alcoholics preaching the virtues of an alcohol-free life.