Christmas Week at Billings Farm

Title: Christmas Week at Billings Farm
Location: Billings farm & Museum, Woodstock, Vermont
Start Date: 2011-12-26
End Date: 2012-01-01

Description: Christmas Week: December 26 – January 1 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides; making historic Christmas ornaments, pomanders, and snowflakes; candle dipping. Sledding with jack jumpers, if snow conditions permit.

Like most New England states, Vermont did not widely celebrate Christmas until late in the 19th century. It was not until 1890, when the farmhouse at the Billings Farm was completed, that Christmas became recognized as a holiday in all states. At that time, celebrations were much simpler than they would become in the 20th century. Families enjoyed the holiday, but still had cows to milk, ice to cut, and wood to saw. A few gifts, a special meal, and the gathering of friends, were noteworthy in an otherwise typical day.

Decorations of the period included fresh greens draped over mantels, windows, and doorways throughout the house. Small trees, packed in a jar or butter tub that stood on a tabletop were common. Many of the ornaments reflected an agricultural tradition, including strands of cranberries, popcorn, or dried apples that circled the tree. Apples studded with cloves, “exotic” oranges, silvered (foil-covered) chestnuts, painted pinecones and acorns complemented the handmade paper ornaments, which rounded out many a tree’s decorations.

In Woodstock, turn-of-the-century businesses advertised their wares for Christmas gifts. Nearly all of the gifts were useful domestic items: fabric, clothing, umbrellas, linens, crockery, and carpet sweeps. Homemade, handcrafted items including fancy mittens, satin bows, and stockings filled with candies, nuts, and raisins were the most common type of gift given on Christmas Day.

Admission: adults: $12.00; over 62: $11.00; students (13-17): $8.00; children 5-12: $6.00; 3-4: $3.00; under 3: free.
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