WOODSTOCK, VERMONT… Discover the traditions of a late 19th century Vermont Christmas with a visit to the Billings Farm & Museum this holiday season. Christmas at the Billings Farm will be featured on weekends in December and December 24 – January 1, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (excluding Christmas Day). Tour the authentically decorated farmhouse, visit the dairy farm for interactive programs including An Introduction to Milking and Milking the Herd at 3:15 p.m. each day, holiday activities, plus the Academy Award® nominee film, A Place in the Land will be offered.
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 and certainly today. 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 staircases throughout the house. Small trees, packed in a jar or butter tub and placed 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. Most gifts were useful domestic items: fabric, clothing, umbrellas, linens, crockery, and carpet sweepers. Homemade, handcrafted items including fancy mittens, satin bows, and stockings filled with candies, nuts, and raisins were among the most common gifts given on Christmas Day.
Highlights of the Holiday Season
December 3 & 4:
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Making Christmas silhouettes & poppers; candle dipping.
Woodstock’s Wassail Celebration:
December 9, 10, & 11, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Making historic Christmas ornaments and pomanders; candle dipping. Sunday, Dec. 11: Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
December 17 – 18: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Making Christmas silhouettes & poppers; candle dipping.
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Making Christmas silhouettes & poppers; candle dipping.
Closed Christmas Day – Merry Christmas!
December 26 – January 1, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides, if conditions permit: 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Making historic Christmas pomanders, ornaments, or snowflakes; candle dipping.
For information: 802-457-2355 or www.billingsfarm.org.