Sunday, December 2, 2012

The War on Christmas Is Very Old

Living room of the Purcell-Cutts house, arts and crafts style with leaded windows and Prairie Style fireplace
I went on a tour of the Purcell-Cutts house in Minneapolis yesterday. It was fun, and I may get around to sharing some photos, but I came away with one piece of knowledge above all others: There used to be an organization called the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving (or Gifts in some instances), better known as SPUG.

Our tour docent speculated that the Purcells were members of SPUG, or that they were influenced by that type of thinking. It did seem a good fit for an aesthetically oriented couple in the Arts & Crafts era.

SPUG was founded in 1912 by a group of Manhattan socialites who thought it was deplorable that working-class women were being forced by convention to contribute to Christmas gifts for their bosses. As this 1913 New York Times article makes clear, the group were militant enough to organize a large rally against the practice.

Not wanting to be perceived as negative or anti-Christmas, though, they later changed the organization's name to the Society for Promotion of Useful Giving.

Googling the acronym turns up everything except references to the 1912 group. Who knew there were so many SPUGs in this world?
  • Skyline Propane Users Group
  • Seattle Perl Users Group
  • Small Power Utilities Group
  • SharePoint Users Group
  • Sewer Pipe Users Group
  • Swiss Puppet Users Group
  • Shoe Press Users Group
  • Silesian PHP Users Group
  • Stanford PalmPilot Users Group
  • Society for the Protection of Ugly Goblins
I like the original group's name the best. Although that one about the goblins is pretty good, too.

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