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Enjoy a Victorian Christmas without a time machine

The Dartmouth Heritage Museum is taking people back in time for a Victorian Christmas this year.

The Dartmouth Heritage Museum is taking people back in time for a Victorian Christmas this year.

“Victorian Christmas at Evergreen is always so much fun,” said executive director Lisa O’Neil. “It’s very community based. Volunteers and neighbours, we all get together and do the traditional greening.”

She described “greening” as the Victorian equivalent of gathering friends and family and picking out your Christmas tree. “It’s decking the halls with boughs of holly,” she said. “Afterwards, we all have the traditional greening tea. That’s open to the public for viewing what they used to do back in Victorian days.”

She said many of our modern Christmas traditions were invented by Victorians, but some of the old customs would raise modern eyebrows.

“Have you ever heard the expression ‘brown-paper packages tied up in string?’” she asked of the line from My Favourite Things.

“There’s a reason that’s in there. We’ll show you that. I’m going to tease you there,” she added, refusing to elaborate.

The Victorian Christmas will also be fun for kids accustomed to electrical entertainment. A self-described gamer who has reached “nerdvana,” O’Neil said the contrast between today’s high-tech Christmas gifts and the relatively low-tech Victorian Christmases is captivating.

“I show them the old playrooms and they say, ‘That’s so beautiful.’ There is nothing in there that is digital. We show them toys from way back. Some of them you’ll be scratching your head saying, ‘How the heck could that be fun?’” she laughed. “It’s a wonderful world full of magic.”

The Victorian Christmas at Evergreen House (26 Newcastle St.) runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18.

The museum is also hosting A Loop in Time: An Exhibit of Rug Hooking by the Dartmouth Heritage Matters Group at Evergreen House until Dec. 17.

Go to Dartmouthheritagemuseum.ns.ca for details.

 
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