Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg's Joyful Wreaths: V

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To casual visitors today, Colonial Williamsburg may seem like a charmingly idyllic version of the past, but the actual colonial city in 1776 was a hot-bed of revolutionary tumult and outright insurrection. It's not surprising to find politics creeping into every facet of CW's interpretation, including the holiday decorations. Yes, this house is decked with greenery and polished red apples, but hanging from the tradesman's sign is a pint-sized effigy of King George III, his neck so stretched that only the top of his fearsome crown shows.

But there's more commentary on the door:

Inside the wreath, the coiled rattlesnake from one of the most famous flags of the Continental forces – the so-called Gadsden flag used first by the Marines – is recreated in rope and golden flowers. Colonial eagles bravely trim the greenery, and across the top of the door is a taunting parade of English tea-labels, a reminder of that little affair involving the tea ships in Boston Harbor that made colonists quite forget about Christmas in December, 1773. Finally, in place of traditional Christmas sentiments, there's the motto of the Gadsden flag, spelled out in cinnamon sticks: Don't Tread on Me.

7 comments:

rebecca said...

Another fabulous decoration. Do you know what the price ribbon is for, first place? This is one of my favorite signs. I love the way they do the apples in the openings. What was on the window? Did you take pictures of that?

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Rebecca - Yes, the blue ribbons are awarded in honor of various categories of decoration, and posted with pride for the duration of the holiday season. I had to ask about the judges, and here's the official reply from a Colonial Williamsburg spokesperson:

"A panel of three judges determine the winning decorations with the assistance of a Colonial Williamsburg garden expert, who serves as a technical advisor to assure that the winning decorations conform to our decorating guidelines. The judges are professionals or amateurs who are familiar with decorating and/or have horticulture experience. They are given a full set of decorating guidelines and view photographs of past decorations before judging the current decorations. The three judges generally change from year to year and we don’t divulge their names."

As for the decoration on the window - looking through my pictures, I'm sorry to see that I didn't take that one. Must have gotten distracted (very easy for me!) I think it was a flag with cotton bolls for stars, and a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the middle of the stripes. Another patriotic slogan was outlined again in cinnamon sticks, but I can't remember what it was, and no matter how much I enlarge the image, I can't decipher it. Sorry!

Meg said...

What a great display -- this is probably my favorite so far just for being so unusual! Do you know by chance if there is any record that colonist decorated their homes in such a manner during the period? It's fascinating either way!

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Meg - The decorations that now are on display in Colonial Williamsburg owe more to the Italian Renaissance by way of the 1930s than to anything an 18th c. colonist would have done. Here's the scoop on the CW web site: http://www.history.org/visit/christmas/dec_doors.cfm

rebecca said...

Thanks for the information back Susan.
I totally understand about the picture and distraction in Williamsburg. Plus, the beautiful decorations just get so wonderfully overwhelming it is hard to remember what pictures have been taken and what has not.
I am really injoying your trip.
Thanks again for the picture sharing.

Darla Vincent said...

Can you please tell me what type of establishment this is. I cannot tell from the sign what the building is.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Darla, I'm trying to track this down. Because this building isn't open to the public, it isn't identified by name or trade on the CW maps. I've always wondered about that signboard, too - a hayrick? a cupcake? - so I'm looking forward to the answer as well. Stay tuned.....

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