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article imagePhoto Essay: Christmas at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate Special

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By Leigh Goessl     Dec 28, 2012 in Travel
Mount Vernon - Over the past several weeks things have gotten festive at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Estate, Museum & Gardens. The historic property is decorated for Christmas as visitors experience a taste of 18th century holiday celebrating.
Mount Vernon, the estate of General and Mrs. George Washington, is open year-round, but the holidays are a special time to pay a visit as the property dresses up to celebrate an 18th Century style Christmas.
Throughout the holiday season, different events and displays have been offered including candlelight tours, chocolate making, and the annual appearance of Aladdin, the Christmas camel. Additionally, during the holidays visitors get to experience a special viewing of the mansion's third floor where Mrs. Washington moved her private quarters to after the General's death (the third floor is closed to the public the rest of the year).
Walking through the property, visitors can get an idea of how the Washingtons lived and also how they celebrated and decorated for Christmas.
A visitor walks into the entrance to Mount Vernon property  which is decorated in traditional greens...
A visitor walks into the entrance to Mount Vernon property, which is decorated in traditional greens and reds.
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A staff member directs visitors in the lobby of Mount Vernon s visitor entrance.
A staff member directs visitors in the lobby of Mount Vernon's visitor entrance.
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During Christmas 1787  George Washington paid 18 shillings and brought a camel to his beloved home f...
During Christmas 1787, George Washington paid 18 shillings and brought a camel to his beloved home for his guests to enjoy. In modern day, Aladdin is an annual guest at Mount Vernon during Christmas.
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Aladdin is a very social camel. Here he is approaching visitors.
Aladdin is a very social camel. Here he is approaching visitors.
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Back in the late 1700s, the decorations were simple, with greens placed throughout the house, there were no Christmas trees or other bright decorations as one would see today. The emphasis was likely more on the foods prepared.
Recently  it was discovered that the house was not white during George Washington s time in the home...
Recently, it was discovered that the house was not white during George Washington's time in the home as had been shown for a long while, but beige. This past year the house has been redone to portray historical accuracy. In this photo, visitors wait for their tour of the mansion on Christmas Eve.
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While no photography is allowed in the mansion, visitors touring Mount Vernon could see how a Christmas dessert table was set up in the formal dining room. Additionally, the house is set up a bit differently than one would normally see during the rest of the year as the rooms in the Washington home reflect how the space would have been set up for overnight guests.
While brightly colored decorations and Christmas trees were not a custom of the era and are not represented in the mansion, this doesn't mean the rest of the property wasn't all dressed up. Throughout the visitor's entrance, education center/museum lobby, and gift shop areas, many festive Christmas trees can be seen.
Christmas trees located in the lobby of the visitor s entrance. The trees throughout the property ar...
Christmas trees located in the lobby of the visitor's entrance. The trees throughout the property are decorated with 18th century items, ideas or images representative of this earlier time.
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George Washington was very fond of technology  science and math. Throughout his property you can see...
George Washington was very fond of technology, science and math. Throughout his property you can see evidence of this with his inclusion of 18th century innovation. This Christmas tree illustrates Washington's love of these topics.
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A musical decoration on one of the Christmas trees at Mount Vernon.
A musical decoration on one of the Christmas trees at Mount Vernon.
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Decorations on a tree at Mount Vernon during the 2012 holiday season.
Decorations on a tree at Mount Vernon during the 2012 holiday season.
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A Christmas tree located in one of the lobbies at the Mount Vernon Estate during the 2012 season
A Christmas tree located in one of the lobbies at the Mount Vernon Estate during the 2012 season
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A decorated Christmas tree at Mount Vernon
A decorated Christmas tree at Mount Vernon
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Mount Vernon has several festive Christmas trees throughout the property s buildings.
Mount Vernon has several festive Christmas trees throughout the property's buildings.
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Christmas trees located in the lobby of the Museum/Educational Center. Here a statue of Gen. George ...
Christmas trees located in the lobby of the Museum/Educational Center. Here a statue of Gen. George Washington stands between two trees.
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One of the events at Mount Vernon this year is chocolate making in the 1700s. Here demonstrators sho...
One of the events at Mount Vernon this year is chocolate making in the 1700s. Here demonstrators show visitors how this treat was made in Martha Washington's time.
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18th century chocolate was not necessarily the flavor you d typically find today. In the 1700 hundre...
18th century chocolate was not necessarily the flavor you'd typically find today. In the 1700 hundreds it might have been flavored with cinnamon or even hot peppers.
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A Christmas tree at Mount Vernon that is themed after Gen. George Washington
A Christmas tree at Mount Vernon that is themed after Gen. George Washington
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This display sat in the Museum and Educational Center s lobby during Christmas 2012
This display sat in the Museum and Educational Center's lobby during Christmas 2012
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In addition, the lobby that leads to the museum and education center is also hosting a set of gingerbread houses that were constructed by a local school's girls' club.
These gingerbread houses were made by GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science)  a girls  after sch...
These gingerbread houses were made by GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science), a girls' after school club, at Fort Belvoir Elementary School. The creators of these houses are in the third and fourth grades.
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Mount Vernon is a lovely visit any time of the year, and many visitors do come during the holidays to experience a taste of 18th Century holiday celebrations. Mount Vernon will feature its Christmas displays and events until Jan. 6.
A winter s view of the Potomac River behind the main house at Mount Vernon. This view is much like t...
A winter's view of the Potomac River behind the main house at Mount Vernon. This view is much like the one George Washington would have seen in the late 18th century. Across the river, the land is intentionally undeveloped.
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