Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg: The Raleigh Tavern

Monday, December 26, 2011
Susan reporting:

Because I have family in Williamsburg, VA, I'm most fortunate to be able to visit Colonial Williamsburg each Christmas.

The holiday season brings out the best in the colonial city, with nearly every house and shop decorated for Christmas. While the full-out holiday decorations aren't entirely authentic – no sensible 18th c. Virginian would ever have wasted a perfectly good (and expensive) imported pineapple by sticking it on his front door – the decorating "rules" require that only materials available in 18th c. can be used, which rules out modern glitter & glitz, flashing lights, and, of course, Santa. The results are quite wonderful, and draw even more visitors than usual. Over the next week, I'll be sharing a few of my favorites from 2011.

This is the front of the Raleigh Tavern, a colonial hotbed of roiling revolutionary politics. Beneath Sir Walter's bust, the tavern's holiday wreath features not only festive pomegranates and greenery, but also clay pipes and curled pages of the Virginia Gazette in honor of the lively discussions that must have taken place among the gentlemen of the colony, here in the Raleigh's smoke-filled public rooms.

Curious to see how the tavern's door was decorated last year? Here it is in 2010.

Above: Raleigh Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg, 2011, photo copyright Susan Holloway Scott. 


Grace Burrowes said...

Somewhere I came across the notion that colonial sea captions would plunk a pineapple on the gate post to let everybody know they had returned from a voyage and receiving visitors, and thus the pineapple became a symbol of hospitality... or maybe I made this up? I do agree though--newspapers make much better wreath-fodder than pineapples.

nightsmusic said...

I absolutely love that wreath! I think I might have to do that next year.

I'm envious. I didn't make it to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village this year. I've been so sick for the past three weeks, I didn't dare walk around the village for hours at night.

I shall live vicariously through you instead. :o)

Merry Christmas through the twelve days and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

QNPoohBear said...

That's a fabulous wreath. I love Colonial Williamsburg and the Raleigh is a lot of fun. Their bake shop sells to-die-for baked goods.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Grace, I don't know where the pineapple-for-hospitality thing came from (Martha Stewart?), but it's a "history myth" that everyone knows and will...not...die. We posted about it a while back:

But I agree that as myths go, the sea captain with the pineapple at his door does make a great image, doesn't it?

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