I went to Fort Boonesborough on Friday evening, Dec. 11, with some friends to experience an 18th Century Christmas. The event was called “Christmas on the Frontier, Fort Boonesborough,” and it was a most interesting expedition.
The fort was lit mostly only with candlelight, bonfires and fireplaces. It was a bit eerie walking around the fort in minimal light, but it made it easier for me to envision what the fort would have looked like in the 1700s in the winter.
Reenactors in period dress gave living history interpretations of the traditions of the season and provided information about how some of our present-day Christmas customs originated, as well as how some traditions have evolved or have been lost to us in the 21st Century.
I found it all fascinating, and came away with a new appreciation for modern Christmas traditions and their roots in the past.
For instance, I learned about the German traditions of the Christmas tree, the Gift Bringer, German holiday foods and songs.
I learned about how our American Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch SinterKlaas, who arrived in Holland by ship rather than a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, and brought gifts to children who had been good.
I discovered that one of the most popular icons of the holiday in Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Denmark is the Yule goat.
I heard about how our English ancestors derived many of their holiday traditions from pagan rites that had their beginnings in ancient Rome.
And I now know why we hang stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve and expect them to be filled with goodies on Christmas morning.
I also experienced a small part of what Christmas would have been like on the Kentucky frontier in the late 1700s.
Best of all, I got my picture taken with Santa and my friends.
It was truly a wonderful experience and an evening to remember.
If you like history and/or Christmas, and if you get the opportunity to go next year, I highly recommend it.
Guest Blogger, Danna C. Estridge