Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day II: Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Isabella reporting:

The beautiful holiday wreathes and other decorations are much of what makes Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg so popular. There are walking tours to view the decorated houses, books and videos showing how to replicate the "look" at home, and even a contest to select the best of each year, with categories to separate the professional decorators from ordinary homeowners.

The catch is, however, that none of the lavish wreaths and pineapples are historically accurate to 1775. No sane 18th c. homeowner would dream of sticking out-of-season fresh fruit up on his or her front door to be eaten by squirrels and birds; a bit of greenery would have been the extent of holiday decorating.

The Della Robbia-inspired wreaths are products 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 based on natural greenery and colorful fruits were a compromise to ward off plastic Santas and multi-colored lights, and over time the 1930s-style decor has become accepted as traditional. Which, I suppose, it is –– just not traditional to the 18th c.

Still, the wreaths are beautiful, and the use of ingredients native to Virginia is imaginative and inspiring. I'll be posting more over the next few days.

Photographs copyright Susan Holloway Scott, 2012.


Donna said...

It's always important to separate the Colonial Revival from the Colonial!

YankeeQuilter said...

I was in Williamsburg this week! Just a beautiful place to visit...

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Donna - Agreed! America may only have 300 years of history to sort out, but we've certainly been creative with interpreting the facts over that time. ;)

YankeeQuilter - Hope you were there in the early part of the week, and missed the wind and rains on Thursday!

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket