An Old-Fashioned Christmas


The Kemper log cabin, where the Columbia Christmas dinner was re-enacted outside.

It’s wonderful to venture out and see all the light displays of the Christmas season. But at Heritage Village Museum in Cincinnati, they decorate a little differently: the historical houses are dressed up in 19th century garb, the way they might have been when the buildings were used in 1800’s Cincinnati.

The Heritage Village Museum is a living museum filled with historic buildings that have been moved to this park location within Sharon Woods Metro Park in order to preserve them. There is a church, a doctor’s office, a general store, an old log cabin, a schoolhouse and several other buildings that once stood elsewhere in southwestern Ohio.

The museum is open year-round — at least from the outside. But there are special occasions throughout the year when visitors can enter some of the historic buildings and enjoy a glimpse of yesteryear. One such event is Holly Days, a weekend event in December that showcases the beauty of the buildings in their traditional Christmas splendor and a re-enactment of Christmas dinner as it was in 1788 when Cincinnati was known as Columbia.


The menu is historically accurate, and I do believe they baked the pie on the open fire outside the 19th-century kitchen. It looked a little crusty. I can’t imagine baking like that. Records documented this historic dinner that included local Indians and settlers in the region.


As you can imagine, decorations during this period were minimal; mostly wreaths outside. The grandest decorations were found in the Hayner House where a Christmas tree was decorated with ribbon and the piano and mantels held holly and greenery.

But the Chester train station held a more modern surprise inside: a toy train set, complete with a snowy miniature village and enough little touches that both children and adults were enthralled.


Holly Days was a low-key, old-fashioned glimpse of Christmases past. Christmas posts present and future still to come…

Are there historic Christmas events in your part of the world?



18 responses to “An Old-Fashioned Christmas

  1. Always interesting when someone preserves the past, Juliann. Around here, it’s more like the late 1800s or early 1900s. Christmas decorations were more prevalent. Train sets are always fun. It’s one of those things where age doesn’t seem to matter. Thanks for the tour. –Curt

  2. I can’t imagine baking like that either! I love seeing places decorated for Christmas but have never imagined places decorating like they did back in the day. I am not sure about where I live here in Birmingham, but I’m betting Montgomery has somewhere that might do this!

  3. Ahh this looks so cute and fun! I love the woman all dressed up, too. We live near a historical village that has similar programs year round. It’s really fun to step back in time, isn’t it?

  4. I have been to Sharon Woods for disc golf way back when. Ahh memories. Here in Orlando every theme park puts out their Christmas splendor. We are actually going to Fort Lauderdale this weekend to watch a huge boat parade go through downtown and along the inner coastal. (also a couple of shore dives while we are there).

  5. I just did something similar to this in Windsor Ontario and LOVED it! There is just something so much more cozy, and like movie perfect about the 19th century christmas stylings. I also love lights and decor…ahaha if you could only see my house right now its ‘lit’

  6. It’s always a treat to visit living history museums like Heritage Village. There’s just something about watching someone do something — like bake a pie — with the “technology” of the day. Things that we take so for granted that we know how to do now, suddenly become difficult. Trying to prepare an entire dinner over an open fire or with rudimentary ovens would be quite a challenge!

  7. Here in Calgary, we have a historical village like the one you mentioned! It is a museum year-round and you can see people dressed up like in the old days. During Christmas, besides snow, Christmas ornaments are everywhere and Santa would show up! There’s also the miniature village and train like yours!

We'd All Love To Hear Your Thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.