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.
Aladdin is a very social camel. Here he is approaching visitors.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the one George Washington would have seen in the late 18th century. Across the river, the land is intentionally undeveloped.