By KAITLYN NEFF
Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Pricketts Fort invites the community to witness how their Appalachian ancestors celebrated Christmas during the historical and colonial time period with a Christmas tour.
It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century when Christmas how most know it today was introduced. In the 18th century, ancestors didn’t decorate a Christmas tree with lights and sparkly ornaments, watch Christmas movies on TV, exchange gifts or leave cookies and milk out for Santa Claus. So, what did they do? The Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation is offering 18th and 19th century Christmas tours for all to find out.
“It’s totally different than what we do throughout the year,” Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation Executive Director Greg Bray said. “We talk about life on the frontier and during the Christmas aspect, we focus on two different time periods. One time period is in the 18th century when early settlers and early pioneers celebrated Christmas, which they didn’t really do.”
“They didn’t use pine to decorate, and they certainly didn’t have Christmas trees. They did a little bit of drinking and that kind of celebration,” Bray said. “It wasn’t until the 19th century, about the time of the Civil War, that Christmas started to take on a form that we are familiar with.”
Pricketts Fort offers a self-guided tour through the fort which will give you an idea of an 18th century Christmas, and there are guided tours through the 19th century Job Prickett House decorated for the holiday.
In the Job Prickett House, guests will see early Christmas traditions including pine and fruit decorations, and a feather tree, an early Christmas tree.
“They did have lights on their trees during that time. They used candles. It sounds a bit dangerous to me,” Bray said with a laugh.
By visiting Pricketts Fort for the Christmas tours, guests will be able to grasp how a colonial interpreted Christmas and early traditions.
Pricketts Fort is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. The Job Prickett House guided Christmas tours are at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The 18th century Christmas tours of the fort are self-guided and tickets can be purchased at any time during regular hours. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 60 years old and up, $4 for children ages 6-12 and children 5 years old and under are free.
For more information, call 304-363-3030, or email [email protected].
Email Kaitlyn Neff at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @kneffTWV.
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