"Christmas at the Hagley" highlights holiday traditions of the 19th century through Jan. 1. The Hagley Museum, which is situated on the site of the original du Pont mills, estate and gardens in Wilmington, invites the public to see the decorated du Pont family home, Eleutherian Mills. Elaborate decorations are featured throughout the 1803 mansion from the apple fan doorway to the sweeping stairway in the hall draped with pine ropes and red ribbons, a Victorian tree in the parlor and harp in the music room covered with greens and strung with red berries. Instructions on how to make these decorations are found in a pamphlet, "Christmas Creations at Eleutherian Mills," which is available at the Hagley Store.
Simpler decorations adorn the Gibbons House in the workers' community on Blacksmith Hill. A holly wreath, a traditional decoration used by early Irish settlers, is hung on the door, and inside a tree is dressed with paper chains and cardboard stars and strung with popcorn.
"Christmas at the Hagley" can be viewed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 31). Admission is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and students, $3 for ages 6 to 14, free for under 6.
Three evenings of candlelight tours will take place Dec. 18, 19 and 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. A bus will take visitors through the property to the du Pont home for a tour and music by carolers and instrumentalists. Refreshments will be served in the first du Pont office building after the tour. Tickets cost $8 for adults; $4 for ages 14 and under. Reservations are required for the candlelight tours.
To reach the Hagley use the museum entrance on Route 141 in Wilmington. For information, call (302) 658-2400, Ext. 259.
Honoring George Mason
George Mason, known as the father of the Bill of Rights, will be honored today at his home Gunston Hall in Lorton, Va. Mason wrote the Virginia Delaration of Rights, which served as a model for the federal Bill of Rights. This year marks the 200th anniversary of its ratification.
Today's formal program is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. with music by a traditional fife and drum corps and remarks on Mason's contributions to the bill by Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico of Virginia. In addition to the Mason celebration, Gunston Hall will hold its Christmas program, "Carols by Candlelight," from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The mansion will be festively decorated for an 18th century Christmas and occupied by the First Virginia Regiment. There will be hearth cooking demonstrations by costumed interpreters, music by fiddler Dick Irwin and the Radford Ringers, carol singing and refreshments. The event concludes at 5:15 p.m. with 18th century-style fireworks.
Before 3 p.m. admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 for students through the 12th grade, free admission after 3 p.m. Gunston Hall is on Route 242. Follow signs from Interstate 95 or U.S. 1. For information, call (800) 7-FAIRFAX or (703) 550-9220.
"Christmas Evening at Landis Valley" on Tuesday is a 33-year-old tradition at the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, Pa. Visitors can tour the decorated buildings of the farm museum complex, including the Tavern, Victorian Landis House and Country Store, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. free of charge. A model of an early Pennsylvania village with a late 1700s farm complex will be on view in the Visitor Center. At 7 p.m. there will reading of the Christmas scriptures followed by caroling around the bonfire, accompanied by the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir. Free hot cider and cookies will be served.
Admission is free, but visitors are requested to bring donations for the Lancaster Food Bank. The event will be held regardless of weather and visitors are advised to dress warmly and bring a flashlight. The museum is 2.5 miles northeast of Lancaster on Route 272, a marked exit off U.S. 30 and U.S. 222. For information, call (717) 569-0401.
Wassail at Turkey Run
Celebrate the Winter Solstice at an 18th Century Christmas Wassail today from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (weather permitting) in the orchard on the Claude Moore Farm at Turkey Run in McLean, Va.
Guests are asked to bring an old pot to bang, bells, whistles or other noisemakers so they can participate in the ancient ritual of warding off evil spirits that threaten next year's apple crop. Participants can join an apple tree dance and sing 18th century carols as steaming cider is served.
Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for seniors and children ages 3 to 12. The farm is at 6310 Georgetown Pike in McLean. For information, call (703) 442-7557.