Historic holidays: Celebrating in Virginia’s Historic Triangle

Angela Blue

Families gathered around sumptuous feasts, open hearths warming cordial homes, and carolers making the season bright — the joyous spirit and sentimentality that accompanies the holiday season is shining bright in Virginia’s Historic Triangle. During the months of November and December, the Colonial communities of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown celebrate the most wonderful time of year in the most wonderful ways.

One of the best methods to start the season right is to gather around a table to enjoy a meal together, and the Williamsburg Farmers Market is the best place to stock up on seasonal staples such as Virginia wine, holiday greenery, cheeses, and chocolates. The market is open Saturdays in November for Autumn Markets and Dec. 13 for its Holiday Market. (williamsburgfarmersmarket.com)

Holidays in Jamestown and Yorktown

Surely the English colonists prepared some delectable meals during times of merriment — only without today’s modern conveniences of microwaves, electric stoves, and refrigerators. At Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, guests can learn all about the foodways of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia during “Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia” (Nov. 27-29).

Cindy Daniel, of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, explains that everyone has an emotional connection to food. “Food is comfort; it brings out feelings of home, breaking bread, and building community,” she says. “When you look back, you can see that the (colonists) had the same kind of connection.” Just a month later, visitors can return to Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center for a look at 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions during “A Colonial Christmas” (Dec. 26-31 and Jan. 2-4). (historyisfun.org)

Through Dec. 31, artifacts at The World of Pocahontas, Unearthed reveal new details about Virginia’s Native Americans and their interaction with the English settlers.  (historicjamestowne.org)

Yorktown kicks off its holiday happenings the first weekend in December with a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town on Dec. 5, followed by a procession of lights and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus at the annual tree lighting. The next morning, folks will gather for the Christmas Market on Main (Dec. 6), featuring music, arts and crafts vendors, cider, caroling, and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Also on Dec. 6, The Watermen’s Museum will host its fourth annual Oyster Roast, featuring roasted and raw oysters grown and harvested locally. At night, the waterfront will light up for the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade. “It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit,” says Kristi Olsen, who promotes the area.

Colonial Williamsburg celebrates

Williamsburg’s Merchants Square is the place to see and be seen this season. On weekends from Dec. 8–31, festive holiday entertainment will fill the air as attendees tap their feet to the tunes of strolling musicians and carolers, watch a lively rendition of A Christmas Carol, and say a special hello to Santa Claus and Father Christmas. Hist tri decor snow

Colonial Williamsburg’s buildings are adorned with natural decorations, windows are lit with candles, and the aromas of cider and ginger linger in the air. “There is a real magic to Colonial Williamsburg’s Christmas season,” says Barbara Brown, who promotes the Colonial area. “There’s a very old-fashioned feeling in the air that reminds one of what the season is supposed to be about — family, friends, food, music, and a sense of belonging. Many people return year after year to spend the holidays with us.”

Highlights of Colonial Williamsburg’s celebrations include a vast collection of toys and dollhouses in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s exhibit, A World Made Small (beginning Dec. 5); the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum’s 16-foot artful tree, decorated with more than 1,000 ornaments; and the Grand Illumination, where the night sky will be lit by fireworks displays at three different locations (Dec. 7).

Insider tip: Whether you head to the Historic Triangle for Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town or the historic happenings, there’s a holiday package available on visitwilliamsburg.com to suit every family’s needs.

It’s sure to be a holiday season to go down in history.

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