Yuletide in CharlestonFor Immediate Release, July 2010
The public is invited to experience the feasts, festivities and local traditions at Historic Charleston Foundation’s two museum houses where Yuletide in the Lowcountry will take you on a journey through Christmas past. From the Federal to Antebellum era, learn how the families and enslaved African Americans at the Nathaniel Russell (1808) and Aiken-Rhett (c. 1820) Houses celebrated the holiday season. This exhibition will be on view from November 23, 2010 through January 6, 2011.
By touring both the Nathaniel Russell and Aiken-Rhett House Museums, visitors will travel through time to see how holiday traditions changed from one period to another and evolved into the Christmas that we celebrate today. “We see in history the evolution of our modern holiday traditions, like family gatherings, bountiful greenery and the desire to present the most abundant and lavish table possible for holiday guests and family,” said Valerie Perry, Associate Director of Museums for Historic Charleston Foundation.
At the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, guests will learn about early 19th century holiday gatherings before Santa and the Christmas tree became popular. Christmas for the Russell family in 1808 meant religious observances and holiday feasts with friends and relatives. Just as if the family were gathered in celebration, the dining room table will be laden with delightful sugared fruits, syllabubs, cakes and sweetmeats.
Continue on to the Aiken-Rhett House Museum where you can see all the trimmings of a Victorian Christmas in the Lowcountry. Holiday celebrations at the Aiken-Rhett House harkens back to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the first use of Christmas trees in America. Christmas was a joyous time for members of the enslaved African community as well, and interpretive material will be exhibited in the Aiken-Rhett outbuildings, where African Americans both lived and worked.
HCF invites you to enjoy the holidays at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, 51 Meeting Street, and the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, 48 Elizabeth Street. Open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. with the last tour at 4:30, Mon. through Sat.; 2 - 5 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $10; children under 6 admitted free. Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Call (843) 724-8481 for information.