Posts Tagged ‘Christmas decorations in Williamsburg Virginia’

Ringing In The New Year In Historic Williamsburg, VA

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

This year,  as has been our habit for the last 10 or so years, we  made a New Year’s Day trek to Williamsburg, VA to enjoy lunch and a leisurely walk through the Colonial Historic Area  to admire this year’s  door  decorations.   Fortunately it’s just a hop, skip and jump from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg….. Well, maybe more of a longish glide.  As in glide smoothly over the incredible Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, sparkling blue waters of the merge point of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean swirling below,  a sight that never ceases to amaze me with its ever changing face.  Sometimes smooth as glass, other times presenting as long, undulating waves, yet again as wild angry chop, covered with foam, something different every time one goes across.  Then gliding west on Rt. 64 which, on New Year’s Day, usually is a fat, low-key drive because most folks are likely trying to get the ole eyeballs focused after a rollicking New Year’s Eve.  Anyway, it seems like no time at all and one is on Colonial Parkway, heading for Duke of Gloucester Street.

The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg is an on-going restoration effort of the  Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, was made possible by massive endowments by the John D. Rockefeller family, is a truly  amazing place, a living history museum consisting of an entire town, replicated from the Colonial era.  It’s like a time travelers dream, suddenly you’re back in the 1700’s, walking down cobblestone streets, past shops filled with long gone items like candles, bonnets, leather pockets, thick pottery, pewter mugs, etc.,  as well as replicas of the one and  two page local newspapers of that era which are so amazing to read. Horse- drawn grand coaches clatter down the streets, young drummers from the Fife and Bugle Corps march purposefully towards the Governor’s Palace, drums counting the cadence, aromas of hot spiced apple cider waft through the air as folks from literally all around the globe visit during the holidays to see the Historic Area and the famous Christmas door wreaths and swags.

A quick lunch at one of the several taverns was in order before setting out to see this year’s crop of  decorations.   Taverns were public houses of that era and were places for visitors and travelers to eat and relax. The Foundation offers 4 authentic tavern experiences with menus offering foods  similar to the dishes which would have been popular with folks like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson back  in the day.   At dinner,  what would have been typical Colonial era entertainers stroll through the dining rooms, singing and accompanying themselves on lute and mandolin.  Both the servers and the entertainers are in authentic costume, the lighting is by candle which creates an old-fashioned ambience.  My favorite tavern for a quick lunch is  Josiah Chownings, which was a real tavern, operated by a real Josiah Chowning back in the mid-1700’s.   I especially look forward to their peanut soup appetizer which is served with long strips of chunky,  very dry, crisp seasoned bread called “sippets”.   Peanut soup probably sounds less than palatable but well made, with a good quality chicken stock and heavy cream, it is silky smooth and absolutely delicious.  My husband often orders the Brunswick Stew which is a very old Southern dish, popular still, chicken stewed with corn, lima beans, tomatoes, herbs, etc..   The original recipe for Brunswick Stew called for squirrel instead of chicken, no squirrel for me, thanks anyway, but with chicken it is quite  tasty.

Lunch enjoyed, we set out for a leisurely walk  to view  this year’s wreaths.    Somehow, we never seem to tire of looking at these lovely, all- natural decorations.  No matter how many times we have gone to Williamsburg over the holidays,  it always seems that fresh and new ideas hang on each  door. Every conceivable type of plant material is used in quite creative ways —- fresh cedar, pine, Frasier fir and boxwood sprigs are used to form the basic wreath which is then decorated with all sorts of colorful fruits, seed pods, magnolia leaves, grasses, dried flowers, pine cones, shells, etc.  Over the years,  these lovely wreaths  become so famous that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation finally published an elaborate hardcover book entitled “Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg” which gives step by step directions on how to make a Colonial style wreath at home.  Order the book at  I have the book but confess that somehow I’ve just never gotten around to making one myself although the directions are quite well illustrated.  Maybe next year…..

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Out Of The Kitchen And Onto The Door— Williamsburg, Virginia Holiday Decorations

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

What do apples, lemons, pomagranates and boxwood sprigs have in common ?    They are all part of the grand Colonial Williamsburg tradition of decorating the doors in the Historic Area with wreaths, sprays and swags that  glow with the colors of   citrus fruits and apples, brilliant reds, yellows and orange set against the dark waxy green of  boxwood or pine sprigs.   And not just fruit laden wreaths appear– in the many years that we have visited Williamsburg, Virginia  during the  Christmas season we have seen a tremendous variety of  herbs,  dried plants, cinnamon sticks, seed pods of all kinds, magnolia leaves, etc. all used to create  the delightful door decorations which  grace the  Historic Area homes each year.   One of the most memorable was a very large wreath decorated with just about every type of shell that is common to our coastal area– oyster shells with mother-of-pearl interiors showing,  pink scallop shells,  swirled whelk shells, ribbed clam shells, dark bearded mollusks, long razor clams,  tiny periwinkles combined with boxwood, holly berry sprigs and long pine cones to create a  really  interesting decoration, one that really commemorated our magnificant  Atlantic Ocean-Chesapeake Bay region.

Just about every year we make a day trip to Williamsburg over the holidays.  It’s a relatively short drive from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, about an hour and a half or so depending on traffic,  and is such a holiday treat.  ( Actually, one of the nice things about living on the  Eastern Shore of Virginia  is how many fun events are so near by and easily accessed.)  Normally we make a  day out of it,  leaving  the Eastern Shore  in time to have lunch at  The Cheese Shop or The Trellis before walking down Duke of Gloucester Street to see all the creative displays.  Everything on every single wreath is natural, no plastic red apples, no golden styrofoam pears, no water-proof  ribbons, no silk ivy — it’s back to the basics,  real items,  things that were actually grown on land,  sea or air ( lots of feathers sometimes). 

This year was no exception,  the decorations looked terrific.  A bit pressed for time, we ducked into  The Cheese Shop for a quick bowl of  potato and leek soup  (definitely a favorite Colonial recipe)  and one of  their delicious Smithfield ham sandwiches before setting out to view this year’s crop of  decked out doors.  Pineapples, the traditional symbol of hospitality in Virginia, were in plentiful supply on both wreaths and swags.  Several wreaths featured the tiny but very sweet Virginia apple called the Lady Apple,  pale yellow  with a rosy blush.  A very clever wreath decorated with large lemons featured a clay pot below, looking for all the world like a miniture lemon tree affixed to the door.  But our very favorite decoration this year was a simple but elegant wreath of  fraser fir with an overlay of a wreath made from puffs of raw cotton,  dried cotton bolls and stalks,  burlap swags plus  pink pods of some type,  all  fashioned together most ingeniously.   Tracking  back towards Merchants Square we did a quick look-see into  the holiday windows in some of  their unique shops– the  Toy Shop and the Pewter Shop looked especially grand this year.  And then zip-zip,  back home to the Eastern Shore after having enjoyed immensely yet another holiday trip to Williamsburg.