Christmas - Was this the First in the United States?

Photo credits given below plus yummy cookie recipe!

Christmas. This time of year we often encounter reruns of: It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 49th Street, and other warm classics. Same with music, as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Gene Autry’s Rudolf the Red-Nose Raindeer fill our sound waves. I’m fascinated with the history of such classics and, now as a writer, with how the fabulous story lines and lyrics weave majical moments and memories to keep us watching and listening, year after year.


During this fast-pace and hectic time, many forget the real meaning of Christmas—celebration of Christ Jesus, the Savior, into the world. Confession: I’m guilty, too.


While researching the background of my next book—Dragons, Monsters, & Imaginary Friends—set in the historic woods of Tallahassee, Florida, I was stunned to learn where one of, if not the first Christmas events likely occurred in the United States. Track the dates and the information given below, and make your own conclusion.

Campfire Story:

On Easter Sunday, 27 March 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted the eastern shore of a land he called La Florida. His expedition was searching for the fabled Bimini, Fountain of Youth. He claimed La Florida and areas to the northwest for the Spanish Crown, which was Christian. Historians credit Ponce de Leon as the first known European to set foot on what would become the United States.

Two decades later, Hernando de Soto and six hundred Spanish Conquistadors came ashore in the area of what is now Tampa, Florida. They explored northward, and camped over the winter of 1539. Archaeologist Calvin Jones discovered the location was in the woods around what became known as Myers Park of Tallahassee, Capitol of Florida.


Jones determined, through excavation, that De Soto’s main camp was located about six blocks to the Northeast of the Myers Park youth ballfield. Some of those 600 Conquistadors would have moved about these woods for expedition safety as well as for water, game, and firewood.

Moreover, that Spanish expedition, being a long way from home, would have had a special recognition of Christmas. It would have been one of, if not the first Christmas in what would become the United States.

The year, 1539, would have been fifteen years before the French Huguenots temporary settlement in Florida, sixty-eight years before Captain John Smith established the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1607, and eighty-one years before William Bradford and the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony in 1620.

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Interestingly, the site of the Myers Park De Soto encampment is only about a fifteen minute walk from where I live in Tallahassee, and I’ve walked by the site many, many times without giving it much thought. Why? I’ve not the foggiest idea. Perhaps, I’ve been trapped by the hype ‘there is something better, more glamorous, and exciting over the next hill.’ So, we hit the road, following the lure of searching for our own ‘fountain of youth’ when in reality something nearby is the best, just waiting to be experienced. ... Or, rediscover what is precious and available to all, like the Savior:

The Word, The Light of the World, Alpha, Omega, Ancient of Days, Breath of Life, Morning Star, Chief Cornerstone, Deliverer, Eternal Life, Faithful, Truth, Life, Eternal Father, Friend, Savior, Shepherd, Holy One, Lord, Judge, King of kings, Lamb of God, Lilly of the Valley, Redeemer, Prince of Life, Resurrection and the Life, Righteous Judge, Son of God, True Vine, Lion of Judah,

Spotless Lamb, God Almighty, Son of the Most High, The Great I Am, Emmanuel, Messiah… Jesus!

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 Thanks for stopping by my campfire, and sharing this true story and history.

I’ll keep the campfire burning,




PS: You may share this Christmas Story with others. It is always free. They also can receive a copy by sending an email to Clifton at or through his contact page on his author website:

 Photos (top down): #1& #4: Christmas Scenes by J. Savoy of Tallahassee, FL.  #2 The Cross by K. Hudson of Buffalo, OK. #3 Sketch of Spanish Conquistadors and Christmas provided to C. Savoy by C. Butler of Leeds, United Kingdom.

God bless! ... cs

© Clifton Savoy, Ph.D.

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Cocoa Crinkle Cookies

 From P. Mailhot of Tallahassee, Florida. "Not sure where I got the recipe. I had a new mixer and the ingredients. Hope you enjoy them, too."

CS says, “The cookies are excellent!”


2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa or Special Dark Cocoa, 4 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and Powdered sugar 



1.    Combine granulated sugar and oil in large bowl; add cocoa, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to cocoa mixture, beating well.

2.    Cover; refrigerate until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours.

3.    Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar to coat. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.

4.    Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly and tops are crackled. Cool slightly.

5.    Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.