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'A Colonial Christmas’ Explores Historical Holiday Traditions at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., November 29, 2017—History makes the holidays fun at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown during “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1-31. Visitors can explore 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through interpretive programs and, December 23-31, festivities abound with musical entertainment of the period and daily appearances by Jamestown Settlement’s Lord of Misrule.

The two living-history museums tell the story of our nation’s beginnings throughout the year with films, immersive gallery exhibits and historical interpretation in re-created outdoor settings – a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and colonial fort at Jamestown Settlement, and Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Jamestown Settlement

“A Jamestown Christmas” holiday film and special interpretive programs compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the period with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of America’s first permanent English colony. In England, the holiday season – extending from December 25 to January 6 – was a time of merriment and feasting. While little is known about Christmases in early Jamestown, “A Colonial Christmas” activities reflect the cultural traditions recalled by English colonists.

Visitors to the outdoor living-history areas can learn about the Jamestown colony’s early years as well as the English colonists’ Christmas at sea in December 1606, and the Powhatan Indian hospitality shown to Captain John Smith’s trading party in 1608 during a winter storm. In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, historical interpreters will present ongoing demonstrations on typical winter activities, including food preservation and hunting tools and techniques. In the re-created fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery and demonstrations of fancy cooking.

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

A Colonial ChristmasHear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a Revolution-era farm. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war, assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies and, at 3 p.m. each day, take part in a Continental Army gun crew and observe historical interpreters fire the artillery piece.

At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery, historical interpreters compare and contrast 18th-century holiday traditions with those of modern times and demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast. Visitors can see open-hearth cooking in the farm kitchen and take part in periodic candle-dipping activities.

Period Holiday Music & Jamestown Settlement’s Lord of Misrule December 23-31

On December 23-31, visitors can enjoy a variety of 17th- and 18th-century traditional holiday music at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Jamestown Settlement and at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Scheduled performances include Barry and Lynn Trott on mandolin, guitar, flute and viola da gamba at Jamestown Settlement on December 23, 28, 30 and 31; and David Gardner on fiddle on December 24, 26, 27 and 29 at Jamestown Settlement and on December 30 and 31 at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. In addition, We 3 Strings – comprised of Jack Murray, Jessica Carchic and Joanna Pearson – will perform at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown from 1 to 3 p.m. on December 20 and 29.

In Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort, visitors can experience the 17th-century English tradition of the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief,” at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. December 23-31.

“A Colonial Christmas” is funded in part by a grant from the York County Arts Commission.

Tickets & Private Tours

A value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $23.00 for adults and $12.00 for ages 6-12 Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6-12 and to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $12.00 for adults and $7.00 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency.

A History is Fun combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $23.00 for adults and $12.00 for ages 6-12.

Christmas-themed private tours are available for an additional fee with advance reservations for a party of 14 or fewer people. Reservations can be made online or by calling (757) 253-4939.

Holiday Shopping in Museum Gift Shops

In time for holiday shopping, Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown gift shops offer a selection of books, prints, museum reproductions, educational toys, games and souvenirs relating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Shop online at www.shophistoryisfun.com. 

How to Get Here

Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, except for Christmas and New Year’s days. The museums are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway. Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Parking is free. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838 or visit https://jyfmuseums.org/jamestown-settlement/a-colonial-christmas/.