American Holidays

America’s Golden Age Illustrators created some of the most beloved and endearing holiday symbols that set the style and tone for entire generations of Americans. In a widely supported editorial in 1903, The Saturday Evening Post called for a revamping of the national holidays, lamenting that although there were thirty holidays on the calendar, only five received any general observance. “We have on Christmas the opportunity for love and charity, at Thanksgiving the occasion for gratitude, on Election Day the right of self-government, on the Fourth of July the display of patriotism.” Illustrators took these words to heart.

Illustrators chose a specific symbol for each holiday, enabling the public to focus on a single comprehensible theme. Not only did they create for those special days images that came to symbolize the holiday itself, their depictions actually changed the way America celebrated. Thus began a tradition at the magazine and throughout America.

American Holidays is a comprehensive collection of the works from these artist-illustrators who created the iconic art of the American holiday spirit during the Golden Age of American Illustration.