Christmas on the Farm

Saturday, December 6, 2014 10 am - 4 pm

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 New Market Battlefield State Historical Park highlights Civil War-era Yuletide traditions

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.

Living historians will be depicting the 51st VA Infantry which camped nearby during Christmas of 1864.

At 2 PM, the Museum Theater will show Ole Time Christmas from the Shenandoah Valley, a 30-minute DVD featuring Yuletide music and traditions from several Valley communities. The DVD, also available in the Museum Store, was produced by Harrisonburg PBS station WVPT and Oak Tree Productions, which made the Road Trip to History series highlighting the history of towns along the “Great Valley Road,” U.S. Route 11.