Some interesting facts from Wikipedia, on this Christmas Eve:
Christmas in the American Civil War (1861–1865) was celebrated in both the United States and the Confederate States of America although the day did not become an official holiday until five years after the war ended… In 1870, Christmas became an official Federal holiday when President Ulysses S. Grant made it so in an attempt to unite north and south.
For children, Christmas was altered during the war. Presents were fewer, especially in the devastated South. In We Were Marching on Christmas Day, author Kevin Rawlings notes that some southern children worried about the Union blockade, and one little girl, Sallie Brock Putnam, plotted the course Santa Claus would have to take to avoid it… Excuses for a lack of Santa included Yankees having shot him.
And, my favourite:
In one incident on December 25, 1864, 90 Union soldiers from Michigan, led by their captain, dispensed “food and supplies” to poor Georgians, with the mules pulling the carts decorated to resemble reindeer by having tree branches tied to their heads.