Let’s reminisce about Christmas, and more so, about Christmas at Mount Vernon.
According to a 2017 column from The Daily Beast (with information supported by the Mount Vernon estate staff), Christmas 1783 was Washington’s first Christmas at the Mount Vernon estate, and he celebrated accordingly.
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Santa Claus was not present, and there were no candy canes, but there was Christmas pie filled with several types of meat, seasoned with nutmeg and cloves, and drenched in four pounds of butter. There was also Martha Washington’s “great cake” (what we now know as fruit cake) and a four-day celebration for the plantation’s employees.
Needless to say, George Washington knew how to celebrate Christmas, and Mount Vernon honors his many memories on the estate with festivities each year. Below, find this year’s list of holiday-themed activities for the whole family to enjoy.
And rather than nibble on fruit cake, get a glimpse at a much-more-exciting fireworks display.
Mount Vernon by Candlelight
Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14 and 22
Weave your way through the mansion and other areas of the estate on this guided candlelit tour. // $26 adult, $18 youth (kids 5 and under are free)
Holiday Dinner for the Washingtons Tour
Nov. 30-Dec. 22, noon
You might be wondering, “How do I make that so-called Christmas pie filled with meat for my holiday parties this year?” During this one-hour demonstration, learn how the food served during the holiday season was prepared back in Washington’s day, as well as who prepared it and how it was served. // $10 in addition to general admission
Holiday Wreath Workshop
Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m.
While using a tailored assortment of evergreens and botanical accents, learn to make your own holiday-inspired wreath, and decorate it with Southern magnolia foliage and seed pods collected from the Mount Vernon estate’s land. // $125 per person ($105 for members)
Book Signing and Cake Samples with Brian Noyes
Dec. 7, 12:30-4 p.m.
Brian Noyes, owner of Red Truck Bakery and the author of The Red Truck Bakery cookbook, will be on-site to sign copies of the newly released book, and serve up samples of his sweet cakes from his award-winning Virginia bakery. // free
Paint and Sip
Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
This isn’t your average paint-and-sip experience. Rather than just popping open a bottle of wine and painting another beachscape, guests will enjoy brunch, followed by a workshop of painting their own versions of George Washington’s mansion. // $110 per person ($90 for members)
Holiday Topiaries Workshop
Dec. 15, 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m.
Give your home a little added holiday decor with this workshop, which allows participants to use an assortment of fresh greens to create two topiaries, anchored into decorative birch-bark containers. Add pops of color with ornamental berries and learn from Mount Vernon’s greenhouse manager, Melanie Welles Creamer. // $125 per person ($105 for members)
Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon
Dec. 20-21, 5:30- 8:30 p.m.
After touring the mansion and getting into the holiday spirit, catch the sparkling fireworks show over the Potomac River. It’s a holiday-inspired celebration you won’t want to miss. // $36 with mansion tour, $30 without tour