‘First Christmas’ to be Launched in January 2013 in Tallahassee, FL

Filed under Events

Florida Living History and Mission San Luis will be launching First Christmas in Florida next year. 

To kick off our commemoration of Florida’s 500th anniversary in 2013, Florida Living History, Inc. (www.floridalivinghistory.org), and Mission San Luis (www.missionsanluis.org) will launch First Christmas – a new, annual, heritage Event, re-enacting the first Christmas celebrated in the continental United States, in 1539!

The First Christmas heritage Event will take place on January 4-5, 2013, in Tallahassee, Florida. This Event is sponsored by Florida Living History, Inc., and Mission San Luis, a National Historic Landmark and recipient of the Preserve America Presidential Award.

In 1539, Don Hernando de Soto and his band of some 600 soldiers and 12 Catholic priests had marched north almost 300 miles from their landing place near Tampa before reaching “Grand Anhaica” (today’s Tallahassee, FL), the principal town of the native Apalachee, in October. Here, the Spaniards set up camp for the winter.

Here, too, in December 1539, De Soto’s priests and troops would have observed the first Christmas celebrated in the continental US.

This holiday, heritage Event will take place at Mission San Luis (www.missionsanluis.org/) and will include:

• On Friday, January 4, 2013, at 7PM

  • a lecture on De Soto’s 16th-century expedition and winter encampment by Dr. J. Michael

Francis, holder of the Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies at the University of South

Florida; this lecture is funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council through the

National Endowment for the Humanities.

• On Saturday, January 5, 2013, from 10AM to 4PM

  • displays of original De Soto-expedition artifacts recovered in Florida;
  • living historians in period garb, representing the occupants of De Soto’s winter encampment in Grand Anhaica;
  • Apalachee life of the period;
  • the military arts of the De Soto entrada;
  • period food and foodways;
  • colonial Spanish music;
  • period map-making, crafts, children’s activities, and more!;
  • a historical re-enactment of the first Christmas Mass celebrated in the continental US.

Admission to Dr. Francis’ lecture on Friday evening is free of charge to the public. Admission to Mission San Luis on Saturday is Adults/$5; Seniors (65 and over)/$3; Children (ages 6-17)/$2; Active-duty Military/Members of the Friends of Mission San Luis/Children under 6/Free.

The First Christmas heritage Event is sponsored by Florida Living History, Inc. (www.floridalivinghistory.org ), and Mission San Luis ( www.missionsanluis.org/), part of the Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Archaeological Research. Support is provided, in part, by NTE Energy, Inc., and the Florida Humanities Council.

For more information on First Christmas, please contact us at  or phone us, toll-free, at 1-877-FLA-HIST (1-877-352-4478)!


Florida Living History, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization dedicated to the support of living history activities, events, and portrayals related to the history of colonial Florida. www.floridalivinghistory.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>