Apples, Football and Evergreen Conifers. It may sound strange, but all of these do have something in common: they are all part of America’s holiday traditions. Why? That’s what the Henry Whitfield State Museum wants to explain. From now until December 14th, visitors of the museum can check out their current exhibit “Holidaze: The Real Story of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” which delves into the myths and traditions of America’s fall and winter Holidays.
“This exhibit really started to evolve about ten or twelve years ago,” shares Michael McBride, a museum curator. “When visitors would come to the museum during the holidays, they would always ask why we didn’t have Christmas decorations or a tree up, and we would explain that Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas.” That got the crew thinking about providing some information that was a little less known about the holidays celebrated locally. “What started as a few portable displays in response to those early inquiries has morphed into the full exhibit you see today.”
The current exhibit may be in a small space, but it is packed with interesting facts that even some historical guru’s may not know about. The museum makes use of every nook and cranny of the space to provide enticing and interactive displays. “What’s nice about this exhibit is that no matter what holidays you celebrate, there is something fun to learn about the history of these traditions. As different cultures have come to America, they’ve brought with them their own ways of celebrating, and this exhibit shows this evolution.”
McBride admits that one of his favorite parts of the exhibit is eavesdropping on the visitors. “Whenever people tour the exhibit, they start to talk about their own memories of their holidays with their family,” he says. "Almost everyone has their very own story of an episode of burnt turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”
So whether it be to learn some fun historical facts, reminisce about your ill-fated main course, or just to check out the museum grounds with the beautiful fall foliage, swing by this exhibit and you will undoubtedly learn at least one factoid about American holiday traditions. The fun fact I learned: Bobbing for apples apparently originated from a Roman Festival for Pomona, the goddess of fruit and orchards, which was celebrated around November 1st. Romans believed that the first person to catch a bobbing apple with his or her teeth would be the first to marry in the New Year. Who would have guessed?
Find out more information on the Henry Whitfield State Museum website.