Christmas 1857. Francis Henry Lincoln of Hingham was an 11-year old student at Derby Academy. When school resumed in January, he wrote a composition, entitled “Christmas,” which is preserved in our archives. Lincoln recounts how he and his older brothers Solomon and Arthur spent their “very merry Christmas.”
Christmas is the day on which the birth of Christ is celebrated. It is a holiday. In many parts of the world, the week in which the anniversary occurs, is devoted to amusements. I had a very pleasant Christmas this year. I will give you some account of it. In the morning I awoke as usual and found in my stocking a very handsome present. In the forenoon I went to Loring Hall to see the committee of arrangements prepare the tables for the party in the evening. The First Parish usually have a special social gathering on that evening. At noon I witnessed the firing at a target by two gentlemen in our neighborhood.
After enjoying a Christmas dinner Solomon Arthur & I went into the field in the rear of our house and fired at a target with Solomon’s gun. I then read a while at home. In the evening I attended the Parish party at Loring Hall. There was dancing until eight o’clock, when there was an intermission; during that time the scholars connected with the Sunday School were collected in the saloon and marched into the Hall. Arthur acted as Marshall.
I had been appointed to present to my cousin Henry E. Hersey, the superintendent of the school, a writing desk in behalf of the scholars. Mr. Hersey, being introduced, I made a short speech and presented the desk to him. He made a short speech in reply, expressing his warm thanks to the scholars. Dancing was then resumed. Afterwards by an invitation of my Sunday School teacher, I went to his house and received from him a present of a very interesting book. I then returned to the Hall and spent the remainder of the evening in dancing. We had refreshments and excellent music. I went home between twelve and one o’clock having spent a very merry Christmas.