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Christmastime at Popes Creek Plantation in Colonial Days

George Washington’s first childhood Christmases in Westmoreland County weren’t geared toward providing a magical time for the children. It was the adults who celebrated with parties, dances, and visits from friends and family.

The holidays were a time of generosity and universal hospitality. No one would have been turned away, or denied participation in the feasting and drinking. Games, music and dancing, and even fireworks were on the agenda for the celebration that began on Christmas day, and lasted for twelve days and nights.

Food, then, as it is today, was a large part of the celebration. Plenty of strong drinks, including wine, brandy, and rum punches, were consumed. Portions of rum were even given to the slaves, in hopes of keeping them happy enough to stay around and work during their very few days given off from work during the holiday season.

Decorations of the time included door wreaths and garlands of local greenery. Holly and ivy would’ve been strung throughout the house. There was no Christmas tree, but caroling was a part of young George Washington’s memories of Christmas. He would’ve known the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, but not as a holiday song. Instead, reciting it was a method of learning numbers for the children.

Join the staff and volunteers of George Washington Birthplace National Monument this Saturday, January 5, 2013, in celebrating the Washington Family Christmas. Admission to the Park is free everyday, and the event will take place from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Costumed volunteers and staff members will be hosting a Christmas party much like the Washington family might have done in the 1730s. Cooks will prepare a lavish feast while visitors enjoy the mouth-watering smells from their creations. Children will be playing with their Christmas toys and enjoying the decorations in the Memorial House.

Demonstrations of the plantation work, like blacksmithing and spinning (which took place holiday or not) will be ongoing throughout the day. Visitors staying until dusk will be treated to the once-a-year lighting of candle lanterns along the pathways from the Visitor Center to the Memorial House in the historic area. The Bookstore/Gift Shop will be open until 7 p.m., as well.

For more information, contact:

George Washington Birthplace National Monument, 1732 Popes Creek Road, Washington’s Birthplace, VA 22443

(804) 224-1732

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