Monday, November 9, 2015

31st Annual Holiday Weekend

31st Annual Holiday Weekend

Saturday, December 5, 2015, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Sunday, December 6, 2015, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Eden Woolley House, 703 Deal Road, Ocean, NJ 07712

Holiday Weekend features tales of Christmas past

Christmas season has always been a highlight of the Museum calendar. For 25 years, we filled the auditorium of the old Oakhurst School the first weekend in December with exhibits, trains, crafts, and handmade goodies. We continued the tradition in our new home, transforming the Woolley House into a holiday showcase for two days each December.

On Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, the Museum holds its 31st Holiday Weekend. Model trains and Christmas collections fill the Our Town Gallery. On the porch, the Ocean Township Garden Club sells freshly made wreaths. The Hearth and Home Gallery is emptied to make way for an expanded Museum Shop and Bakery stocked full of homemade treats and one-of-a-kind gifts hand-crafted by the Museum quilters. Children search the house for hidden nutcrackers in a “Holiday Hunt.” Sunday afternoon, the winning quilt raffle ticket is drawn. All this is followed by the lighting of the Township Christmas Tree on the Museum grounds Sunday at 4:30.

Something special

This year, there’s something special. Our Holiday Weekend pays special tribute to the season we celebrate. Christmas has become a American cultural and economic juggernaut. Our talented “living history” actors explore the historical roots of its traditions. We’ve conjured up the spirits of Woolley family members from the 18th and 19th centuries to entertain visitors with stories of the holiday customs of their times.

A peek at Colonial Christmas

Phoebe Woolley, third wife of Thomas (who built the oldest part of the Woolley House) will describe Colonial Christmas.

European settlers brought to the New World the holiday customs (and attitudes) of the Old. The Puritans would have nothing to do with it. In fact, in 1659, they outlawed the celebration of Christmas altogether.

The Anglicans in the southern colonies were more receptive. They celebrated with festive feasts, music, and gift-giving that foreshadowed today’s customs.

German colonists decorated with Christmas trees, as in their home country. But the custom was not widely adopted by their neighbors, who rejected its pagan roots. The Dutch brought with them “Sinte Klass,” but our plump, redsuited American Santa did not take shape until the 19th century.

The Victorians set the stage

Mary and Sarah Woolley, Eden’s daughters, will be on hand to explain the customs, popularized in the 19th century, that largely define how we celebrate today.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, was an instant best seller. It elevated public interest in the season and helped redefine it as a time of giving.

About the same time, that Christmas tree the German settlers couldn’t get their neighbors to adopt caught on, helped by widely circulated photos of Queen Victoria and her German husband with theirs. In 1856, President Franklin Pierce brought the first tree into the White House.

On June 26, 1870, Christmas was declared a federal holiday. That same decade, Americans began sending Christmas cards. Santa emerged as a cultural icon. Gifts and gift-wrapping took center stage.

Join us to learn more, shop local, and start the season in style. Recommended donations: adults, $3; children, free. Those paying their 2016 membership dues at the door are admitted free.

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum, founded in 1984, is a member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey. Its headquarters, the Eden Woolley House, is one of the few 18th century structures still in existence in the Township. The Township of Ocean Historical Museum offers exhibits on the history of coastal Monmouth County and a full calendar of events. The Museum also houses a library and archive of local history. It is open, free of charge, 1 to 4, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday, 7 to 9 Thursday Evenings and 1 to 4 the first and second Sundays of each month. Visit for more information.