News / USA

Home of First US President Hosts Historic Christmas

A woman playing the part of Martha Washington talks to visitors at Mt. Vernon.
A woman playing the part of Martha Washington talks to visitors at Mt. Vernon.

Multimedia

Deborah Block

The Mount Vernon Estate in the southern U.S. state of Virginia is one of the most beloved historical landmarks in the United States.  Every year, about one million people visit the home of America's first president, George Washington, who led the country from 1789 to 1797.  

The house and museum on the grounds are now decorated for Christmas.  In addition to enjoying the decorations, visitors can also see a camel and hear stories about what Christmas was like at Mount Vernon in the 18th century.

The museum where visitors begin their tour of Mount Vernon is decorated with Christmas trees, with picture ornaments of American presidents, including Barack Obama.

However, Christmas trees would not have been found in Mount Vernon during the late 1700s since they only became popular in the US during the next century.  

Melissa Wood, spokesperson for Mount Vernon, says President Washington's mansion on the plantation was sparsely decorated. "There was greenery inside the mansion but that was probably the extent of the decorations," she said.

The holiday was a festive occasion, and friends and family of President Washington and his wife Martha, would gather at Mount Vernon. "Celebrations would start on Christmas Day, ending on the 12th night, which was really the big celebration, and on that night Martha Washington would make her great cake.  We still have this recipe today, and we actually hand it out to visitors during our holiday events," she said.

But Christmas in those days was mostly a religious holiday.   A woman who portrays Mrs. Washington at Mount Vernon talks about what Christmas was probably like. "We observed the 12 days of Christmas beginning with being well-churched on Christmas Day.  We usually fasted and prayed most of Christmas Day.  But my little brothers, on the plantation, they loved to shoot in the Christmas.  They'd go out at midnight and shoot off the guns to announce the savior's birth," she said.

One Christmas, President Washington brought a camel to Mount Vernon for his guests to enjoy.  So this Christmas season, Mount Vernon once again has a camel - from a farm in Virginia.  

Another favorite activity on the plantation was making chocolate from cocoa beans. Tim Larner gave a demonstration, saying, "It was not a candy.  It was more a drink.  So you would have your bars here, and then you would grate them down into powdered chocolate, and make a hot chocolate out of it.  It's a very thick, a very stimulating drink, which is actually why it was not advisable for children back in the 18th century."

Christmas was a happy time at Mount Vernon, with friends and family sharing food and good times - at least one thing about Christmas that is still the same in the United States more than 200 years later.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid