Four Centuries of Virginia Christmas
On one level, this is the story of Virginia’s Christmas, how its customs evolved from pagan, Roman, English, Dutch, and German precedents and how its own homegrown traditions developed. But in a larger sense, it is the story of America’s Chrismtas, for the American celebration is rooted in Virginia.
America started in Virginia. So did its Christmas.
“In the beginning, all America was Virginia.” So wrote the colonial aristocrat William Byrd II in the early part of the 18th century. No one at the time thought this statement an idle boast. Educated people knew that when England laid claim to most of North America in the 1500s, the colony named for the Virgin Queen Elizabeth swept grandly from Atlantic to Pacific. Never mind that no one had any idea what lay in between those two oceans of that British possession was more wishful thinking than actuality, the fact remains that most of the United States and portions of Canada were once considered part of Virginia. On the edge of this vast Virginia continent, in a forlorn settlement called Jamestown, America’s Christmas celebration began to take shape.
A Note from Me
America’s Christmas started in Virginia? What about the Pilgrims? Well, if you recall from your history lessons, the Puritans who settled Massachusetts were enemies of Christmas, going so far as to ban the slightest hint of celebration or church attendance on that day. In one northern colony, even baking a mince pie for dinner brought a stiff fine! But Virginians had no such qualms about the English holiday they loved so much. It was their way of celebrating that took hold, spreading north, south, and west to other American colonies and states, absorbing aspects of the Dutch and German traditions as it grew, until it gradually became the unique American holiday we enjoy today.
Reviews and Blurbs
“The witty and well-researched text explains how our traditional Christmas came to be. Tracing the customs and traditions of Christmas in Virginia, the book shatters a few myths along the way.” –Diane Dunkley, Director, DAR Museum
“Everyone will enjoy reading about the wonderful traditions we celebrate in Virginia.” –Roxane Gilmore, former First Lady of Virginia
“Engagingly written, delightfully illustrated, and carefully annotated, Four Centuries is a treasury of the history, the anecdotes, the traditions, and the joys of the keeping of the best of holidays in the splendid Old Dominion.” –Dennis Montgomery, Editor, Colonial Williamsburg Journal