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November 8, 2006

Special edition of CW Journal features traditions, myths about the holiday season

The holiday edition of Colonial Williamsburg, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s popular history journal, explores the myth and fact between Pocahontas’s visit to England in 1616. In the article, “Pocahontas’s London Christmas: Beans, Peas, and Sea-Coal; or Who Killed Pocahontas?” Ivor Noël Hume writes, “The most recent representation of the legend of Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s film ‘The New World’ has King James I inviting the young Indian woman to be royally wined and dined. The truth was different.”

In a Jamestown 400th Anniversary story, Noël Hume cites an example provided by Captain John Smith. In Smith’s “Generall Historie” and a promotional letter to Queen Anne, he gives insight into Pocahantas’ trip. “From Smith we learn that she was invited to 1616’s most prestigious royal party, at Christmastide, a Twelfth Day masque the king and queen gave at Whitehall,” explains. “The event has been portrayed as Pocahontas’s being granted a royal audience. Not so.”

For the cover story, James Breig, an Albany, N.Y., editor and writer, uncovers ways to “Bring Home a Williamsburg Christmas: How Twenty-First Century People Can Celebrate 18th-Century Holidays.”

Elsewhere in the issue can be found:

  • “Once Around the Colonial Seasons”—Anthony Aveni, the Russell Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology and Native American Studies at Colgate University, takes a look at the 18th-century calendar of seasons;
  • “Wassailing through History”— Robert Doares, an instructor in Colonial Williamsburg’s Interpretive Training Department, examines the tradition of wassailing;
  • “The Skating Minister”—Michael Olmert, an English professor at the University of Maryland, discusses the history behind the Scottish painting, “The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch; and
  • “Mistletoe Myths and the Kissing Bough Custom”—Contributor Mary Miley Theobald explores the symbolism of the holiday season.

    These articles and articles from previous issues are found online at Colonial Williamsburg can be purchased at Everything Williamsburg™ and Williamsburg Booksellers® at the Foundation’s Visitor Center. Complimentary copies of the printed magazine can be obtained and subscriptions ordered at

    Colonial Williamsburg, the journal of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is published six times a year by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The journal is a benefit to donors who contribute $35 a year or more and $8 is reserved for the subscription.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. Williamsburg is 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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