December 24, 2011

Don't Forget the Christmas Tip!

In the 18th century Boston had several newspapers, which were delivered to people's homes by young men who were generally from the lower class. Although Christmas was not widely celebrated in New England at this time, the newspaper boys still relied on ancient traditions of Yuletide charity to get tips from their customers.

Many newspapers provided pre-printed fliers that their newsboys could give to their customers as a reminder about Christmas tips. Here is one example the Boston Evening Post gave out in 1764:

The Boy who Weekly Pads the Streets,
With all the freshest News he meets,
His Mistress and Masters greets.

Christmas and New-Year, Days of Joy,
The Harvest of your Carrier Boy,
He hopes you'll not his Hopes destroy...

That his generous Patrons may inspire,
By filling up his Pockets higher!

Boys who delivered the Massachusetts Spy, another Boston paper, asked this from their customers in 1771:

Kind Sirs! Your gen'rous bounty show
Few shillings on your Lad bestow,
Which will reward his pain,
Who piercing Winter's cold endures,
And to your hands the SPY secures,
And still his task maintains.
Not many people get newspapers delivered these days, but be sure to tip your postman or other service person in your life. Keep up the ancient tradition and have a great Christmas!

(All this information is from Stephen Nissenbaum's excellent book The Battle for Christmas.)

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