A colonial-style Christmas at Fort Defiance

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 08:39 AM

An enchanting and magical holiday season awaits in beautiful Happy Valley at historic Fort Defiance
The 18th century home built by Gen. William Lenoir will be decked out in all its holiday splendor to celebrate the annual Colonial Christmas Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1-5 p.m. each day.
Visit the Valley and journey into the past of the home built by Lenoir in 1792 and lived in by the Lenoir Family until 1961. Gather with them and experience a much quieter and relaxed holiday season as they usher you into the heart of a Christmas long ago.
“The house will be decorated in the style of Colonial Williamsburg with native greenery, fruit and adornments,” Fort Defiance Executive Director Becky Phillips said.
Wassail and period refreshments will be served to guests to help warm their “spirits” and transport them back in time. Traditional holiday music also will be provided.
“Costumed tour guides will be on hand to tell you how the Lenoirs celebrated Christmas in times past,” Phillips added.
The traditional “Burning of the Holly” will kick off the holiday season on Saturday at 1 p.m. Phillips explained how the tradition was started more than 15 years ago during the first Colonial Christmas celebration and has been a ritual ever since.
“We believe it is a Celtic custom symbolic of burning away the transgressions of the year and starting the year anew. It is reminiscent of the English custom of burning the Yule log,” she said.
Holly has long been rooted in Christmas customs and beliefs. Early Christians and indeed even today many believe the red berries and spiny leaves represent the blood of Christ and the crown of thorns. Old folklores have attributed many special powers and symbolisms to holly. In medieval times holly was used to treat medical conditions such as fever, rheumatism, gout and asthma. Holly berries are poisonous, however. It is also thought that picking holly on Christmas Day would enhance its medicinal properties. Additionally, holly was used to ward off evil spirits. Many of these customs and traditions will be explained during the event, allowing visitors to learn more about the customs of old.
A special candlelight tour also will take place Saturday night only from dark until 9 p.m. Reservations are required for the candlelight tour.
Regular admission of $6 for adults and $4 for children will help toward the continued preservation of Historic Fort Defiance.
There also will be artisans available with hand-crafted items such as pottery, baskets and powder horns for sale to help with those unique Christmas gift ideas.
“Our gift shop is also an excellent source for that hard to shop for person,” Phillips said. “We have items ranging from toys to local artwork for sale.”
For more information or to schedule candlelight tours call 828-758-1671 or send an email to msftdefiance@aol.com. You can also visit the fort’s Facebook page for the latest developments.
Fort Defiance is located on N.C. 268, just 5.5 miles off U.S. 321 from Lenoir and just 23 miles from the U.S. 421 underpass in Wilkesboro.

News-Topic Editor Nathan Key contributed to this story.