Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas is Past - 12th Night's the Last

Merry Christmas from the 21st Michigan!
The Christmas season is now officially over. 12th Night/Epiphany/Three Kings Day (otherwise known as January 6) marks the actual end to Christmas.
And it ended with a bang!
One of the Civil War reenacting units that I belong to had our annual period-dress Christmas party this past Saturday.
"'Period dress' you say?"
Just a few of the sixty or so 21st Michigan members to attend our annual period-dress Christmas party!

We began to hold our Christmas parties in this way since January of 2006 (we have the party in January because December is much too busy a month for everyone), and it's truly a highlight for all that attend.
When I first suggested having a period dress Christmas party, many balked at the idea. There was no other unit that did this sort of thing, so why should the 21st Michigan? But to me it was a no-brainer - I mean, how can you be in a reenacting unit and not have a period Christmas party? It still surprises me to hear, as far as I can tell, that the 21st Michigan is the only unit I know based in and around the Detroit area that does this.
It's too bad for the reeanactors that don't. They don't know the fun they're missing.
The "white elephant" gift exchange is at hand with our very own Union Santa!
To me it is a shame because we really have a great time. Our Christmas party is held in an old school house that was built in 1872, and gives the perfect historic back drop to help bring the past to life. Seeing this vestige of the past filled with 60 or so people dressed in period clothing, one can easily understand that the makings for a night of 1860's fun is at hand!
Christmas carols sounded hauntingly beautiful on the pipes
One of our members, who normally portrays local Detroit politician Senator Jacob Howard, will don his Harper's Weekly (ca 1862) Union Santa suit to help pass out the presents. Yes, there are presents, too. President Lincoln makes frequent appearances, as he did this year. And we even had a bagpipe playing member serenade us all with Scottish Christmas carols!
President Lincoln speaks politics to one of his supporters
But the real thrill, besides the clothing and historic building, is all the good food that is brought by the membership: turkey, mashed potatoes, squash, venison stew, homemade bread, ham, corn...and a dessert table filled with cakes, pies, cookies, and other goodies.
Yes, it's a wonderful way to end the season.
But it didn't end there at the old schoolhouse...
Afterward, a few members stopped over to my home for sort of an afterglow. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know my wife and I have a very-close-to period authentic 1860's parlor in my home where we will have gatherings and light the oil lamps and candles to help with a sort of immersion experience..
A cozy January evening with good friends in our parlor
I feel bad that I cannot invite everyone over (perish the thought of having 60 people in my home!), but my home is just not very big. And most cannot make it anyhow, what with their children and all and it being on the later side of the evening.
The glow of an oil lamp is enough light for the engaging conversation here
Those that do come, however, find themselves in another time - a time that is long gone.
This is perhaps one of my most favorite evenings of the year: having appropriately dressed people over in a dimly lit room relaxing and speaking as they might have 150 years ago is as good as it gets!
In fact, I may do it again in the late winter...maybe have a parlor game evening filled with song, games, and good conversation...
My wife and I had our tintype taken by a visiting photographer
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the photos I have posted here.

And for those of you tired of my Christmas postings...this will probably be my last one for a while. Notice I said "probably" - - - -

I've been working on a winter time post I believe you may find rather interesting. Stay tuned...



An Historical Lady said...

Just lovely! So happy you all had a wonderful time. Your gathering in your parlor was like stepping back in time...

Loree Huebner said...

Nice blog. Looks like it was a grand time. Loved your tintype.

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Loree. I appreciate it.

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

What a nice idea. I bet everyone really has a great time at the parties every year. And I love your parlor lit by the oil lamps. I'll have to remember that, and buy some oil lamps for our house. That would be a lovely way to entertain a small group of people.


Historical Ken said...

Pam, oil lamps can really give a winter's evening a warm glow. When you have your friends over, ask them to dress as period as they can - you'd be surprised at how it will add.