"Today Christmas Day was celebrated in the
city, but not with such reverence as it is in old Sweden. On the evening
before, the bells of the English Church rang for a long time to announce the
approaching Yuletide. In the morning, guns were fired off in various parts of
the town. People went to church, much in the same manner as on ordinary
Sundays, both before and after dinner. This took place only in the
English, Swedish and German churches. The Quakers did not regard this
day more remarkable than other days....Nowhere was Christmas celebrated with
more solemnity than in the Roman Church." In Philadelphia, at
least, people of other faiths attended the special Christmas services in the
Catholic church - largely because of
the musical program. As a naturalist, Kalm delighted in pointing out that the church was decorated with fresh branches of mountain laurel "whose leaves are green in winter time." The English and traditionally decorated
their churches with evergreens during Yuletide, a practice limited to the established church and definitely not followed among the dissenting congregations."
"Nowhere was Christmas Day celebrated with more
solemnity than in the Roman Church. Three sermons were preached there, and that
which contributed most
to the splendor of the ceremony was the beautiful music heard to-day. . . . Pews and altar were decorated with branches of mountain laurel, whose leaves are green in winter time and resemble the (cherry laurel).
Lavender, rose petals, and pungent herbs such as rosemary and bay were scattered throughout the churches, providing a pleasant holiday scent. Scented flowers and herbs were chosen partially because they were aromatic
and thus were considered an alternative form of incense. The Reverend George Herbert, an Anglican clergyman from Maryland, urged "that the church be swept, and kept clean without dust, or cobwebs, and at great festivals
strewed, and stuck with boughs, and perfumed ."