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Wed Dec 5, 2018, 10:43 AM

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 5: The Fake Colonial Christmas Decorations of Williamsburg, VA

The pineapple-studded wreaths, oyster-shell-trimmed swags and apple fans are some of the highlights of the annual holiday tours at 18th-century Colonial Williamsburg. They're also the icons of what's become known as the classic Williamsburg look.

But when tour guides drop the bomb that none of these decorations, nor the single candles lit in the windows at dusk, would have been there in the 1700s, visitors sometimes gasp.




Very little documentation exists that the colonists who settled in Virginia did any kind of Christmas decorating inside or outside their homes no wreaths of dried okra and lemons, no door fans of pomegranates and lady apples.


The truth is that if the colonialists had lemons, apples, and pineapples, they would have eaten them, not decorated with them. All of the fake colonial stuff came from John D. Rockefeller who restored the colonial town of Williamsburg in the 1920s.

The holidays in 18th-century Williamsburg were more low-key than we celebrate them today," says Joseph Beatty, Colonial Williamsburg's director of research and interpretive education. "People would go to church and have big meals and gather with families and friends. As far as decorations go, we are pretty confident that maybe a few people would put up a bit of greenery and hang mistletoe inside, as was English custom, but that was it."


(I wrote about Kissing Balls last December: https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181013422 )

Williamsburg also puts single candles in all the windows. This would have been considered wasteful and fire hazard to the colonialists, but they did do it from time to time. There is a whole history of candles in the window, but I'll leave that for another post.

More at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/the-history-of-williamsburgs-beloved-but-not-very-colonial-holiday-decorations/2017/12/19/0e24a5fe-c59d-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html?utm_term=.9eb1f1e879c0

PS: These last two are Williamsburg's tribute to Star Wars from 2015, something that the early Americans clearly wouldn't have done. (I am not making this up.)





(For an explanation of my advent project and a link to last years posts, see
https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181152160 )

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Reply FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 5: The Fake Colonial Christmas Decorations of Williamsburg, VA (Original post)
FSogol Dec 2018 OP
underpants Dec 2018 #1
FSogol Dec 2018 #2
underpants Dec 2018 #3
FSogol Dec 2018 #4
Blue_Tires Dec 2018 #5

Response to FSogol (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 10:55 AM

1. Going there Christmas Eve

In laws in town.

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Response to underpants (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 11:03 AM

2. I went last year in the summer. That's a fun place.

Make sure you ask, "Would they really have hung apples on the door? Wouldn't the squirrels have eaten them?"

PS. If the in-laws drive you crazy, Alewerks Brewing is close by.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 12:14 PM

3. No drinky around them

It could only makes this worse. Loosened lips and such.

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Response to underpants (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 02:34 PM

4. I always escape. "I think the front tire had a wobble, better

Get that checked. Be right back!"

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Response to underpants (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 07:17 PM

5. If you're in Virginia Beach, stop in and say hi

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