In the year of 2013, our Christmas season typically starts near Thanksgiving and comes to a screeching halt by Christmas dinner. There is much anticipation for the day of Christmas, itself, but it is an entire season of mini celebrations leading up to Christmas day. We try to extend and more fully savor the most joyful season of the year. Living in Williamsburg, during the holidays, sometimes feels like a Hallmark Card or like you are living in the perfect holiday scene, in a snow globe (forget the frigid temperatures – we only get light dustings of magical snow), in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Let me draw you a December picture: Christmas celebrating starts with Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination. In the 18th century, illuminations, which included the firing of guns and lighting of fireworks, were held to celebrate major events, such as great military victories, the anniversary of the reigning sovereign’s birth, or the arrival of a new colonial governor. Each year, on a Sunday afternoon of December, families stroll through Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City to view unique decorations, listen to musical performances and watch THREE fireworks displays (Capitol, Magazine, and Palace), at dusk. The Grand Illumination is many a resident of Williamsburg’s highlight of the Colonial Williamsburg holiday season.
The Historic Area is trimmed with handmade decorations from fresh greenery and fruit. Chestnuts will be roasting on the sidewalks and costumed interpreters transform the pedestrian streets to earlier time. More times than not, during the month of December, as the daylight fades, the Fifes and Drums Corps marches down Duke of Gloucester Street, led by torches. The colonial taverns serve Christmas teas with interpreters. Story tellers recite “A Christmas Carol” in old English or you can even hear the more humorous version of “A Christmas Carol” in a one-man interpretation, in Merchants Square, where you’ll also hear live Christmas caroling and see Father Christmas strolling about.
Switching gears to the thrill seekers: view millions of holiday lights illuminating the European flair and fun of Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration, where you can get a close up view of live penguins in an ice-themed world of dazzling lights and snow, explore the Scottish countryside under a star-filled wintry sky where you can tour the Highland Stables, featuring Scottish Blackface sheep, border collies and Clydesdales.
Let’s not forget the holiday shopping, in Williamsburg! There are 20 Williamsburg-brand stores in the Merchants Square area of Williamsburg, Santa’s daily visits to the Yankee Candle, and longer hours at Williamsburg Pottery and the Williamsburg Premium Outlets.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center participate in the traditions of a colonial Christmas, through accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a 1780s farm. In historic Yorktown, view the Christmas Tree Lighting, which starts with a Fife and Drum march to the Victory Monument. A Yorktown favorite holiday pastime is to watch the lighted boats, on the York River for the Yorktown Boat Parade. In recent years, Yorktown has added a Toyland Parade, for the children, that is complete with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a ride on the Polar Express.
There seems to have been no special notice of New Year’s Eve in colonial days, but in 2013, in Williamsburg, there is much to celebrate. There is a Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration in Colonial Williamsburg as well as First Night Williamsburg (link to blog) to help friends and neighbors ring in the new year with the arts, on the streets of Williamsburg.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of the glorious Christmas season, in present-day Williamsburg. Clearly, traditional holiday customs derive from many inspirations and most people are extraordinarily attached to Christmas traditions, but now that you are retired – Williamsburg Christmas magic should be part of your new tradition!
Have you liked us on Facebook, yet?
Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.