Experience a new, annual event that intertwines local writings of Christmas past with 19th century holiday activities. “Shall We Have Christmas?” takes place Saturday, December 3, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. This one-night-only event will leave visitors with a new perspective on how our upstate ancestors celebrated the holiday season and what they really thought of it.
The museum’s historic buildings will offer a a variety of festive activities including holiday gift-making in the More House- holiday foods in the Lippitt House- singing and socializing in Bump Tavern- greeting card printing in the printing office- remedies for winter ailments in the pharmacy- and decoration making in the church. In each building, visitors will hear or read a quote from a diarist or author, such as Susan Fenimore Cooper, that describes the details and happenings of an 1840s Christmas in central New York.
Here, Susan Fenimore Cooper expresses her thoughts in an entry from Rural Hours published in 1850:
“The festival is very generally remembered now in this country, though more of asocial than a religious holiday, by all those who are opposed to such observances on principle. In large towns it is almost universally kept. In the villages, however, but few shops are closed, and only one or two of the half dozen places of worship are opened for service. Still, everybody recollectsthat it is Christmas- presents are made in all families- the children go from house to house wishing Merry Christmas- and probably few who call themselves Christians allow the day to pass without giving a thought to the sacred event it commemorates, as they wish their friends a “Merry Christmas.”
There will also be horse-drawn wagon rides throughout the evening. Admission: $10 adults, $9 seniors (age 65 and over), $5.50 children age 7-12, free for children 6 andunder and for members of the New York State Historical Association. Visit FarmersMuseum.org for more information.