Discover the traditions of a late 19th century Vermont Christmas with a visit to the Billings Farm & Museum, gateway to Vermont’s rural heritage. Christmas at the Billings Farm will be featured on weekends in December and December 26 – January 2, 2011, 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Tours of the authentically decorated farmhouse, visits to the dairy farm for interactive programs, holiday activities, plus the Academy Award® nominee film, A Place in the Land will be offered.
Highlights of the Holiday Season include:
December 4 & 5: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Christmas silhouettes, candle dipping, and pomander making in the 1890 Farm House.
|photo courtesy of Billings Farm|
Woodstock’s Wassail Celebration: December 10, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.; December 11 & 12, 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. - Historic Christmas ornament making in the farmhouse. On Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Patricia Stebbins will perform traditional holiday music on the Celtic harp. Also on Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.: horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides.
December 18 &19: 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Christmas silhouettes, candle dipping, and pomander making in the 1890 Farm House
Christmas Week: December 26 – January 2: 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides; making historic Christmas ornaments and snowflakes
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 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 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.
The Billings Farm & Museum is owned and operated by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc., a charitable non-profit institution founded by Mary French and Laurance Spelman Rockefeller. Please call 802-457-2355 for activities and programs and a list of seasonal events or visit the museum’s web site: www.billingsfarm.org
|photo courtesy of Billings Farm|
Billings Farm is an operating Jersey dairy farm that continues a century-long tradition of agricultural excellence and offers farm programs and historical exhibits that explore Vermont’s rural heritage and values. Since opening to the public in 1983, the Farm & Museum has served as a gateway to Vermont’s rural heritage for over a million visitors and 100,000 of the region’s school children. Open daily May 1 through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., weekends Nov. – Feb., and Christmas and Presidents’ weeks, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission: adults: $12.00; 62 & over: $11.00; children 5-15: $6.00; 3-4: $3.00; 2 & under: free. The Farm & Museum is located one-half mile north of the Woodstock village green on Vermont Route 12. For information: 802/457-2355 or www.billingsfarm.org.