Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

November 9, 2007

Special holiday edition of the Journal features the pageantry of the Christmas season

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” In the special holiday edition of Colonial Williamsburg, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s popular history journal, editor Dennis Montgomery tells a story of one of Christopher Columbus’ adventures during the voyage. In the article, “The Town of the Nativity, Columbus’s Christmas City,” Montgomery writes that the admiral landed in Hispaniola on Christmas Eve. Although he believed he was in Japan, he discovered what is now modern-day Haiti. Thirty-nine of his sailors stayed behind and Columbus had unwittingly created the first Spanish settlement of the New World.

“The Great Play Called Christmas” talks about the pageantry of the holiday season. Contributor Michael Olmert discusses how folk tales and the traditional Christmas story are told through theater throughout the centuries. For instance, in 18th-century Williamsburg, the Grammar School of the College of William and Mary featured classical plays by Plautus and Terrence. In the true holiday tradition, Colonial Williamsburg will offer two 18th-century plays – “The Guardian” and “Wit’s Last Stake” -- this holiday season at the Kimball Theatre.

Journal consulting editor Harold B. Gill Jr. discusses a loophole in the death penalty in the 17th and 18th centuries in the article “The Curious Doctrine: Benefit of Clergy.” Convicted felons who asked for a Bible and read or recited a verse could cheat the hangman. Originally created for clergy, the use of the doctrine became more widespread. The plea may have pardoned the accused from death, but it did not prevent corporal punishment.

Elsewhere in the issue can be found:

  • “Courtship, Sex, and the Single Colonist”—Contributor Andrew Gardner explores 18th-century customs of dating and marriage;
  • “Williamsburg’s Weddings”—New York-based journalist James Breig compares 18th-century and 21st-century weddings in Williamsburg;
  • “Autumn’s High Holy Days”—Robert Doares of Colonial Williamsburg’s interpretive training department writes about celebration of Jewish holidays in 18th-century America; and
  • “Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip”—Richmond journalist Ed Crews examines the favorite libations in 18th-century Virginia.

    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

    Need a gift for the person who enjoys Colonial Williamsburg? Consider giving a subscription to Colonial Williamsburg. For more information, call 888-CWF-1776.

    The journal is published five times a year and is a benefit to donors who contribute $35 a year or more.

    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 as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

  • Footer