New Market Battlefield State Historical Park will highlight Civil War-era Yuletide traditions in a program entitled
“Christmas on the Farm,”
10 AM to 4 PM.
Costumed historical interpreters at the Park’s Bushong Farm will share traditions of the season from the mid-19th century, including the visit by the Belsnickel. A figure from ancient European folklore, the Belsnickel was usually a neighboring farmer disguised in an outlandish costume who brought goodies for well-behaved girls and boys, and carried a whip or sticks to punish the naughty. The Belsnickel tradition, which was tied to St. Nicholas, was familiar to the immigrant German families of the Shenandoah Valley, who would later embrace the more familiar figure of Santa Claus.
Visitors will be able to make tree ornaments for the Park’s tree and for themselves at a station in the Hall of Valor Museum. At the Bushong Farm, historical interpreters will be preparing meals and soldiers’ care packages, and decorating the farmhouse with holiday garlands. Inside the farmhouse, music and storytelling will evoke the sounds of Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley during the 1850s. Visitors are also invited to join Park volunteers in period games.
Reenactors of the 23rd Virginia Infantry Regiment will be encamped on the Park grounds, depicting the hardships and improvisations that soldiers experienced during Christmas far from home.
Civil War Christmas Traditions