Fredericksburg Christmas Traditions
Since its founding, Fredericksburg has been a town marked by its traditions and history. This holiday season, locals carry on those traditions with these events:
The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. (HFFI) is in the 48th year of its annual candlelight tour. The reigning tradition during the holiday season in Fredericksburg is the tour and the historic homes it highlights. It will be held on Dec. 8 and 9 this year.
Sandra Erickson of HFFI said the event will feature five houses in the area formerly known as Allan Town: 704 Prince Edward Street, 707 Prince Edward Street, 804 Prince Edward Street, 408 Hanover Street and 505 Hanover Street. According to a neighborhood history from HFFI’s Wendy Migdal for the tour, Allan Town, named after John Allan who bought eight lots there in 1745 and laid out a street he named after himself, became part of the city of Fredericksburg with its 1759 expansion. But because development had already begun there, the irregular orientation of the street became a source of contention. The home at 504 Hanover Street known as Federal Hill was built around 1795, at an orientation that was parallel to Allan Street. City officials began asserting themselves in the early 1800s, demanding that Allan Town homeowners remove fences and buildings that obstructed the progress of the city grid. Finally in 1812 that happened, both incorporating parts of and erasing Allan Street at the same time. The odd orientation of Federal Hill to the street and the alley that runs behind the houses on the north side of Hanover, which was another early road, are the last visible remnants of the struggle between the individual landowners and the city.
HFFI offers daytime tours and evening tours of the homes, decorated for the holidays, at different rates. Evening tour tickets include entrance to a cocktail party on Dec. 8 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at A. Smith Bowman Distillery.
And new this year is a gift shop and restroom in the neighborhood at 725 Jackson Street, in Mill Race North
But this year, the organization is honoring the long legacy of the tour with a book launch on Nov. 17 at 718 Venue from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The book, called “Home For The Holidays: Historic Fredericksburg’s Candlelight Tradition,” explored the tradition of the tour, the nonprofits largest annual fundraiser.
Erickson said, “the houses are really inspiring. This is a history-driven town, and this is one of its real community events.“
Find out more at:
No hometown holiday would be complete without a parade through its historic downtown. Fredericksburg’s annual Christmas parade takes place Dec. 1 along Caroline and Princess Anne streets. Get there early to grab a good spot along the parade route and get ready for the marching bands, floats, vendors and candy.
Spotsylvania County holds its annual Christmas parade with the theme “Christmas Is Sweet” on Dec. 1, as well. The parade, which runs through the Spotsylvania Courthouse District begins at 1 p.m.
The parades aren’t the only beloved public Christmas activity. Fredericksburg’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Hurkamp Park from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event has something for the entire family, from a visit with Santa to holiday crafts, music and a reading of The Night Before Christmas. Meet Santa and fun characters, make holiday crafts, listen to holiday music and The Night before Christmas story and more
According to tradition, Mary Washington, mother of George Washington, was locally known for her gingerbread recipe. There’s even a tale that she served it to the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited Fredericksburg in 1784. The Mary Washington House serves it at its Holiday Open House each year. But Kenmore and George Washington’s Ferry Farm take the celebration of gingerbread to a whole new level. The museum will host its 32nd Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit this December at George Washington’s Ferry Farm. This year’s theme is “Cartoon Adventures” and the event runs from Dec. 2 to De. 30. Along with this beloved local tradition, there will be a Gingerbread House Construction Workshop at George Washington’s Ferry Farm on Nov. 17 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. All materials are provided to create your own gingerbread house.
To find out about these and other holiday events at Kenmore and Ferry Farm, go here:
Those who are interested in the other big historic event in Fredericksburg know that every December the region remembers The Battle of Fredericksburg. The conflict was fought between Dec. 11 and 15, 1862 and had a major impact on the landscape and shared memory of the city. The National Park Service holds a remembrance each year.
NPS historian John Hennessy said this year’s events will differ from those in the past, and to check here for updates: https://www.nps.gov/frsp/index.htm.
His local history blog includes fascinating mysteries and historical facts tied to be war, including this letter a soldier named P.H. Powers wrote to his wife on Christmas morning from Fredericksburg:
“I hardly have the heart to wish you a Merry Christmas this beautiful Christmas morning because I well know merriment is not for you this day…..I thought of [the children] when I first awoke this morning…and wondered what you managed to put in their stockings. Memory went back to the many happy Christmas days we have spent together with them. Alas! Will the good old times ever return again and you and I and our little ones dwell together in peace? I hope so. I believe so, but the heart sickens with the deferred hope.”
If only he knew the good times would be here again. They are, and each December Fredericksburg celebrates the holiday season in its own unique, historic, style.
Written by: Lindley Estes
Photo courtesy of HFFI