A Colonial Christmas

Williamsburg Travel Blog

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Farm life in Colonial Virginia
After George read a couple of Revolutionary War books this past year and visited Boston, I thought it was time to show him my state's colonial history. Coming from (supposedly) the most historic city in the US, that is Fredericksburg, Virginia), I thought it only natural that I was his best tour guide. We Virginians are given an intensive history lesson on exactly how and why Virginia is the best state -- I mean, Commonwealth -- in the US due to its role in shaping the history of the US. No wonder most Virginians you'll meet are a little prideful! ;0)

After hearing for years about how beautifully Colonial Williamsburg decorates for Christmas, we headed down one sunny winter morning and got stuck in traffic for nearly three hours just trying to get 50 miles south of DC.
Colonial Virginians depended on local mills to grind the grain from which they made their bread.
Needless to say we didn't make it that day, but instead spent the night in Richmond and drove early the next morning to the town.

For most of the day, we walked around the town and went into the shops and house museums. Sitting along Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg has become a living museum and has reenactors in many of the houses and inns presenting  Colonial era discussions of possible treason against King George of England and revolution. Some of the buildings are working blacksmith, cabinet maker, or brass shops, with the craftspeople discussion their work.

George was into some of the debates the reenactors were having, as he had just finished one of his many books on the Revolutionary War.
Decorating with these wreaths didn't originate in Williamsburg -- those fruit bedecked wreaths and swags that decorate America's front doors--nor did they begin during colonial times.
I, on the otherhand, was a little bored, so I instead watched how the actors held themselves and remembered the lines. Some of them were terrible amatuers, but others really put their hearts into their acting and it showed.

Along the main street, Duke of Gloucester, vendors offer warm apple cider and deliciously soft cookies. After several hours of walking around, it still wasn't time for dinner but most of the museums were about to close. George wanted to hurry up and visit as many craftspeople as possible, and i was practically starving, so we stopped at the food vendor and soon I had an apple cider in one hand and a cookie in the other. Talk about comfort food! I felt like a little kid again. (My mom would always bend down and give something to my little brother while saying "one for this hand and one for the other hand" and he would be the happiest little clam afterwards.
)

Williamsburg has changed since I last visited. They've really tried to have more representations of daily life, although I think we get a feel for the gentry and craftspeople more than the servants and slaves. One of my professors in undergrad cowrote a book about this, and I could see his point that history is recreated according to what we want to see as opposed to what "really" happened, yet this history is portrayed as "authentic."

Once night settles in, Williamsburg holds this spectacular event called The Grand Illumination. Fireworks illuminate the sky, cannons are fired, and the Fife and Drum Corps entertains the visitors. The houses that played a significant role in Virginia history are showcased with cannons fired at the illuminating of the large  contained fire of each house. It's a really neat show, and we could hardly keep up with the Corps as they moved from house to house.

Before we left, George wanted to visit the shops just past the Colonial area, and we spent another couple of hours buying Christmas ornaments, books, and browsing toys. We had such a lovely visit!
sybil says:
sounds great! i am so sad i never visited.
Posted on: Oct 11, 2007
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Farm life in Colonial Virginia
Farm life in Colonial Virginia
Colonial Virginians depended on lo…
Colonial Virginians depended on l…
Decorating with these wreaths didn…
Decorating with these wreaths did…
Me
Me
Established about 1717, the Raleig…
Established about 1717, the Ralei…
Colorful wreaths and swags adorn t…
Colorful wreaths and swags adorn …
Clay pipe stems accent the colorfu…
Clay pipe stems accent the colorf…
Oranges, red peppers, and pine com…
Oranges, red peppers, and pine co…
The Southern wreath made with berr…
The Southern wreath made with ber…
Late afternoon on Duke of Gloucest…
Late afternoon on Duke of Glouces…
The first building to be named Ca…
The first building to be named "C…
In this building Patrick Henry del…
In this building Patrick Henry de…
Lemons, oyster shells, pineapples,…
Lemons, oyster shells, pineapples…
Horse drawn carriage rides along D…
Horse drawn carriage rides along …
Sunset in Colonial Williamsburg
Sunset in Colonial Williamsburg
The Grand Illumination festivities
The Grand Illumination festivities
The George Wythe House on Palace G…
The George Wythe House on Palace …
The Fife and Drum Corps
The Fife and Drum Corps
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photo by: Andy99