Virtual CHristmas Traditions Activities

Our annual Christmas Traditions educationprogram is going virtual this year! Join Duke Homestead staff in learning about holiday traditions that the Duke family would have celebrated in the 1870s. A tradition is the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another. We can see many of the same traditions that the Dukes would have held in how we celebrate today. They have been passed down and evolved over the years.

Make a list of your own holiday traditions! Do you have any special ones that your family started and passed down? What is your favorite holiday activity that you do every year?

We've got a couple different versions of gingerbread for you to choose from! On the left is the version pulled from "The Carolina Housewife," adapted from the 1847 receipt to match our measurements and oven temperature (or you can try cooking it over a fire!). On the right is a slightly more "modern" version that we use here at Duke Homestead when making gingerbread for the Christmas Traditions program each year.

1870s Christmas Playlist

Which of these do you sing at the holidays? What are your favorite holiday songs?

Did you know? When "Jingle Bells" came out in 1857, it was called "One Horse Open Sleigh" and had a little bit of a different melody than you know today. It was not popular. So the composer, James Pierpont, decided to change a couple words, a couple notes, and the title to "Jingle Bells," and published it again two years later. It became an instant hit! Have you ever made something that wasn't great the first time but was much better after you tried again? The version on our play list below is the original melody, can you hear what is different? Also, the song has nothing to do with Christmas- listen to all the verses and you'll learn what the song is actually about, yikes!

Even Santa has changed his style over the years! Just as traditions of decorations, foods, and songs, and gifts have been passed down and evolved over the years, so has Santa's fashion choices. Look at the various past images of Santa from around that world on the left. His style, mode of transportation, and other characteristics changed depending on which country he was visiting. In some places he rode a goat instead of a sleigh with reindeer, or maybe he wore a brown fur suit instead of a red one!