Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day I: Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Isabella reporting,

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.


Historical Ken said...

I always enjoy your Colonial Williamsburg postings!

Samantha said...

It was such a nice surprise to see you! I like that we managed to stagger cotton-silk-cotton-silk. That definitely was not planned!

Ann said...

Season's Greetings -

I just learned last week that my great uncle Ellis T. Baker of Baltimore, who was an esteemed designer and salesman for Steiff, negotiated an exclusive contract with Williamsburg to produce all their reproduction sliver. As a displaced Virginian I visited Williamsburg often in the 50s and 60s when one could just park and walk into the historical area. It was wonderful. Thanks for your blog, I enjoy it immensely.

Heather said...

SO pretty! I got a few Colonial Williamsburg books to add to my collection at Christmas, one of which was about the Christmas decor. I love all the fruity decorations, and I dont know why I was surprised to read that yeah....they werent really wasting food by sticking it on the door frame. Ah well, so pretty any way!

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