The Holiday Season is upon us, and this time of year always brings back wonderful memories of the past. Sending Christmas cards, decorating the tree, warm fires in the fireplace or woodstove.
And here in Middlesex, we even have some unique traditions of our own, like decorating boats and creating delicious oyster dishes. Take a stroll down memory lane with us at the Museums of Middlesex
Saluda – Middlesex County Museum
Did you know? The custom of sending Christmas Cards began in 1843 with the first resemblance of a Christmas Card being given to King James I from Sir Henry Cole, a senior civil servant that helped to found the “Public Record Office” which we now know today as the Post Office. Christmas Cards came to the United States soon after. Though very expensive at first, they eventually became available to the masses with the help of Louis Prang, a printer from Germany that began mass producing Christmas Cards.
At the Middlesex County Museum in Saluda, you can find a Christmas Telegram sent to the residents of Oakenham in the 1960s, as well as an example of an early American Christmas Card depicting a housewife baking Christmas Cookies, as seen below. Visit this link to see learn more about Oakenham & to see the Christmas Telegram.
Urbanna – Urbanna Museum & Museum In The Streets
A special treat to see in Urbanna this time of year, are the decorations at Landsdowne. This historic home located in the middle of the Town of Urbanna, Virginia was once home to diplomat, Arthur Lee (1740-1792). The home is believed to have been built in the early 1750s, and is an example of one of Virginia’s finest early-Georgian style mansions.
This home is just one of many stops on Urbanna’s Museum in the Street Walking Tour. At Christmastime, you can find Landsdowne decorated with Colonial-style decorations, made from natural elements like magnolia, holly, fruits, and cloves.
Deltaville – Deltaville Maritime Museum & Colonial Seaport Foundation
Deltaville, Virginia has become known as the Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay, and for good reason, because boatbuilding was once the top industry in Deltaville. Today, the boats may not look the way they used to, but you can still find examples of early deadrises, skiffs, and even a working replica of an early 18th century coastal trading sloop right here in Deltaville.
Deltaville Maritime Museum & Colonial Seaport Foundation have both kept the boatbuilding tradition alive here in Deltaville. For example, the F.D. Crockett is a Poquoson-Style Chesapeake Bay log-built oyster buy-boat that was built in 1924 in Seaford, Virginia. The F.D. Crockett is available for viewing at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, and has even been known to don a few Christmas lights during a Deltaville tradition, the Jackson Creek Boat Parade. In the gift shop, you can even find an F.D. Crockett Christmas ornament to take home for your own tree.
Colonial Seaport Foundation has been hard at work on their own Luna project, building a working replica of an trading sloop that will eventually begin carrying cargo of coffee and chocolates that may end up under your Christmas tree next year!
While you’re visiting the Deltaville area, be sure to stop by Stephen Blue’s Light Display for a real treat. This display has grown tremendously over the last several years, and has become quite the holiday attraction in our area!
Christmastime is a special time in Middlesex County, Virginia, and we invite you to celebrate your Holidays learning about the traditions and history of our area. We hope to see you all at the Museums of Middlesex!