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Christmas at the Farm Featured at Billings Farm & Museum

WOODSTOCK, VERMONT... Discover the traditions of a 19th century Vermont Christmas with a visit to the Billings Farm & Museum, the gateway to Vermont's rural heritage. Christmas at the Billings Farm will be featured on weekends in December and December 21 – January 1, 2013, (excluding Christmas Day) from 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

December 7 & 8: 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Making Christmas silhouettes and poppers; candle dipping.

Woodstock's Wassail Weekend Celebration: December 13, 14, & 15: 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Making historic Christmas ornaments and pomanders; candle dipping. On Sunday: Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides, weather permitting.

December 21 - 24: 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Making Christmas silhouettes and poppers; candle dipping.

Christmas Week: December 26 – January 1: 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides; sledding with jack jumpers, if snow conditions permit. Making historic Christmas ornaments, pomanders, and snowflakes; candle dipping.

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 doorways throughout the house. Small trees, packed in a jar or butter tub that stood 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. Nearly all of the gifts were useful domestic items: fabric, clothing, umbrellas, linens, crockery, and carpet sweepers. Homemade, handcrafted items including fancy mittens, satin bows, and stockings filled with candies, nuts, and raisins were among the most common type of gift given on Christmas Day.

Admission: adults: $12.00; over 62: $11.00; students (13-17): $8.00; children 5-12: $6.00; 3-4: $3.00; under 3: free.