It’s Christmas, naturally!
As you are busying about with all your holiday preparations, I thought I would share a little inspiration with you…My husband and I recently returned from a long-awaited vacation to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, a restored 18th-century colonial capital of 300 plus acres.
It had been 25 years since we were last there, and the thing I remembered most about the place was the abundance of natural and imaginative decorations on doors and door crowns, windows and windowsills, lanterns, mantels and tabletops, just about everywhere throughout the town, all masterfully designed from fresh elements.
I was not disappointed on this trip. Winter foliage finery at its very best still graces the historic town’s exhibition buildings, restaurants, shops, offices and private homes and have inspired people for centuries, especially at Christmastime.
Evergreens, a symbol of eternal life, were remarkably commonly used by the resourceful citizens of 18th century Williamsburg to decorate their homes at the bleakest time of year.
Today, the area draws admirers from around the world. It takes days and days and days and the talents of an entire design crew, in addition to a legion of private homeowners, to make the magic happen at Colonial Williamsburg.
Truckloads of evergreens of every variety imaginable, cases upon cases of fruits and vegetables, nuts, berries, wheat, grapevines, twigs, seed pods, pinecones and dried flowers are used on everything from sprays and wreaths to garlands and centerpieces. Musical instruments, carved wooden ornaments, iron elements, balls of cotton, wool, flannel and felt are often incorporated in the designs – even leather shoes and soup tureens are used in their outstanding creations!
Decorations go up in time to celebrate Thanksgiving and remain throughout the holidays until Old Christmas Day on January 6th. A team of dedicated employees are responsible for freshening up any that might need it. Where fruits are inserted on florist picks, it makes them easy to remove and replace with new.
Actors dressed in period costume and carollers stroll the pretty streets. The sound of fifes and drums, interesting outdoor markets, hot cider aplenty, the lighting of hundreds of candles in windows at dusk, fireworks and flaming cressets (fire baskets that are hand forged by community artisans are hung on tall posts, filled with kindling and lit) along streets and walkways all lend to the fascination of the annual “Grand Illumination” of the town held annually the first weekend in December. It is just oh-so-pretty at night, like a beautiful dream…We LOVED it!
Every year since our first visit to Williamsburg 25 years ago, my husband and I have been making a door crown in the traditional Williamsburg style to hang over the front door of our own home. It is fashioned primarily from a fresh pineapple (the symbol of welcome), apples and cedar. A few pinecones or nuts are sometimes incorporated depending on what I happen to have on hand. Citrus fruits can be used, too, but I am partial to the gloss of the Red Delicious apples once Big Elf (a.k.a. husband) polishes them with a soft cloth until they’re gleaming. I make the ‘Pineapple Fan’; Big Elf hangs it. That’s the deal. But he always insists on polishing the apples first! It has become a Christmas tradition for us. Our long-awaited return visit to Williamsburg was the icing on the cake, rekindling the spirit in which our tradition first began.
The photo below was taken in December 2011. We’ve had a lot of snow in the past week, I’ve been down with the flu and we haven’t managed to hang the door crown yet, but this weekend it will go up at long last. Hey, how did that dent in the door get there!
I’m excited to be sharing this archived post today on Oh The Places I’ve Been!
I am dedicating this post to my dear friend Carolyn Aiken whose home is Prince Edward Island and who I know would love Williamsburg, too. With every snap of the camera, I thought of her. I gathered a small sampler of photos of the multitude of Williamsburg wreaths and swags to share with you. I hope you enjoy them and that you’ll be inspired to personalize your own welcome wreath for the holidays. Do you have a favourite?
Thank you for dropping by to visit at such a busy time. I hope you are able to wrap up your To-Do list soon.
Wishing you a beautiful day,
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