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Christmas in Williamsburg: Travel Historic America and The Thirteen Colonies
More Successful Than Massachusetts Settlement
The first year that colonists arrived in what would become the Colonies in Massachusetts was an absolute horror. It was hard for the colonists and hard for the Indigenous Peoples. A bit later, Myles Standish earned for the English their "Indian" name, Wotowquenange, meaning cutthroat stabbers.
The land was gorgeous and the shoreline, trees, and wildlife beautiful. Some of my Native American ancestors were even very welcoming and helpful. However, there were no cities, no houses, no transportation, no food, no doctors, and no running water. The colonists brought no seed for crops with them ("We won't need it!") They brought kegs of beer -- Before you yell Yippee! to that, recall this - have you ever seen anyone die of malnutrition, out in the freezing cold; drunk, diseased, and without enough clothing?
The Unprepared People were forced to build houses with natural materials, their bare hands, and a few tools. They had no plumbing or running water, hauled water from rivers and streams and heated it on open fires for cooking, washing, and laundry (when they did laundry, which was not often).There were no bathrooms. No refrigerators; and they had to make furniture as well. Many of them likely worked from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week, in order to build some sort of dwellings and a life; hunting and gathering as the Native Americans always had. Many died of disease, malnutrition, and hypothermia during the first winter.
That was the colonies' first year, before an official colony was established. There were no Pilgrims, that being a retail advertising gimmick of 1840 that stuck - we still see the myth advertised every year. The colonists called themselves simplySaints and dressed in thin, cheap, colorful clothing. They were the poorer class of Britain that the country felt well rid of, uneducated and unprepared for colonization.
The first "Thanksgiving" on New World soil led to a blood bath and you can see what happened at the following links. Living conditions improved over time for newer colonists. Some Native Americans stayed, others were driven off or killed, but they also killed a share of colonists, as well as one another in inter-tribal warfare.
Colonial Williamsburg had much better success from the start in the New World, as a colony, and as part of a US State. In the 20th Century a theme park and historical installation grew up around the orignal colony and today, Colonial Williamsburg is one of the prime Christmas Vacation destinations in America.
Some Facts of Colonial Life
Time progressed and more settlers arrived. On the American Atlantic coast, people caught fish, clams, and whales. They could sell excess fish and the whale blubber at fish markets on the docks. Altogether, hey hunted, gathered, farmed when they learned how, and fished. This took 12 - 14 hours a day or more.
When colonists became famers, they raised the crops of corn (Maize, thank you, my native relatives), barley, wheat, tobacco, and rice. They took their crops to town on Saturdays to the weekly Farmers' Market, which we also now have today! They sold to fur traders, seamen, merchants, and others. Farmers also raised chickens, pigs, and cows. If they were fortunate, they had fruit trees.
At home, the women and girls spent all day baking bread, cooking, gathering food for natural sources, helping on the farm, sewing, making their own threads and wool and cotton yarns and cloth, etc. It was also at least a 12-14 hour workday for them.
Find more information at the Williamsburg links below, including a virtual tour.
Improvement and Hope
The Thirteen Colonies were off to a horrific start, but life became more manageable over time, It is that life that you can see when you visit any of the Colonial Era working farms and working villages provided by a number of organizations and companies today. Life even then did not compare to today's American life of technology and entertainment, but it was better than the First Year.
NOTE:When humanity finally colonizes the Moon and Mars, the first year on either of these celestials may be just as hard as our first year in the New World. Think hard about it before you sign up to go. Already, senior citizens are likely to be recruited to become permanent residents of Mars;there will not be time for them to settle, develop, and return. Once normalized to a martian gravity, the human body (especially an older one) won't readjust to Earth. Blood pressures and sleep cycles will be forever changed and the lifespan will be decreased on a planet of lesser gravity, bones and muscles unable to be maintained.
The United States Park Services and the US States, along with their counties and cites, make available a large number of historical landmarks to the American public and visitors to this land. The National Registry of Historic Places, local registries, and a wealth of historical societies offer travelers a chance to see The Thirteen Colonies as they were in the 1600s and 1700s. Along with commercial enterprises, all of these entities produce vacation theme parks and individual working farms and villages that are interesting and fun to visit. Such a trip to even one of these places can provide insight into the daily life of the American colonists.
During November, December, and Early January, many of these historical sights celebrate American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, inviting travelers and local guests to attend gala dinners and parties in the style of the Colonies. It's a great way to spend Christmas.
Virginia is the first of the original colonies, and Colonial Williamsburg is a sound place to start when looking for daily colonial life.
Proximity to DC and Baltimore
The Original 13 Colonies
For review, the Original 13 Colonies are listed below, along with their working farms and historic villages that operate to bring travelers back to the days before thje American Revolution.
In the order of their creation, The 13 Colonies:
- Virginia - 1606
- Massachusetts - 1620
- New Hampshire - 1623
- New Jersey - 1623
- New York - 1624
- Maryland - 1633
- Rhode Island - 1636
- Connecticutt - 1636
- Delaware - 1638
- North Carolina - 1653
- South Carolina - 1663
- Pennsylvania - 1682
- Georgia - 1732
Colonial Williamsburg Programs
- Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site
Includes colonial history and teacher resources, children's activities, Foundation's mission, giving opportunities.
- Colonial Williamsburg Showcases Maps and Prints
B WILLIAMSBURG (AP).- A new exhibition at Colonial Williamsburg is showcasing maps and prints of early America. The Colonial Williamsburg Fou
- Colonial Williamsburg Research | The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's official History and Citizen