We're easing back into blogging, and hope that your holidays have been fine and dandy and are not quite over.
As I do each year, I'll be sharing a few photographs of the houses and buildings in Colonial Williamsburg decked out for the season. The decorations all use greenery, fruits, shells, and other natural items that are indigenous to Virginia; no strands of multi-colored lights, giant inflatable snowmen, or grinning animated Santas are to be found here. (As always, please click on the photos to enlarge them for detail.)
The effect is charming and festive, if not historically accurate to colonial America. No 18th c. homeowner would ever waste a costly imported pineapple by sticking it on his front door, nor is there any primary source documentation for seasonal decorations beyond green boughs and the occasional sprig of mistletoe.
The Della Robbia-inspired wreaths and swags are the product of the 1930s, when Colonial Williamsburg was still trying to balance its evolving mission as a museum devoted to 18th c. Virginia with the 20th c. Virginians who happened to be living in the town. The decorations featuring bright fruit and pine cones were a compromise, and also proved very popular with visiting guests. Over time this 1930s-style decor has become accepted as traditional – just not traditional to the 18th c.
But not all the seasonal finery was reserved for doorways. Our friends the mantua-makers in the Margaret Hunter milliner's shop (from left to right: Samantha, Abby, Rebecca, and Nicole), above, were wearing their favorite cottons and brightest silks in honor of the holiday. Look for more of their latest work in future blogs in the new year.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.