Troy Historic Village to host Victorian Christmas

Reenactors to add character to annual celebration

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published November 24, 2021

 Historical reenactors will be recreating the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in the 1860s with the Troy Historic Village’s upcoming Victorian Christmas event.

Historical reenactors will be recreating the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in the 1860s with the Troy Historic Village’s upcoming Victorian Christmas event.

Photo provided by Alexander Konieczny

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TROY — The Troy Historic Village is inviting the community to join them for some traditional Christmas fun with its Victorian Christmas.

From Friday, Dec. 17, to Sunday, Dec. 19, the village will be decorated and filled with historical reenactors to give people demonstrations of how Christmas would have been celebrated in the late 1860s.

“It is going to have all kinds of really cool old-timey Victorian Christmas things going on,” said Alexander Konieczny, the youth programs director at the Troy Historic Village. “Three buildings, our cabin, the Caswell House, and the parsonage will all be occupied by reenactors who do Victorian-era civilian reenactments. So they will be acting like they live in those spaces as if they were residents, friends and family, and people can come through and see them living that lifestyle and see what the days leading up to Christmas would be like.”

Three of the historic buildings will be portraying how different families would celebrate and prepare for Christmas.

“The cabin will be kind of more the rural, pioneer Christmas, so it will be a little more lower-income, a little less fancy,” Konieczny explained. “The Caswell House will be the middle stop, and it will have a middle class kind of vibe. The parsonage at the end is going to be the bigger, wealthier family gathering. Each will be talking about different things. The cabin will be talking about food and drinks a lot. The Caswell House will be talking about decorating. The parsonage will be focusing more on pastimes and activities to do during the season. … We’ll have examples of food and drink. We’ll be playing games appropriate to the period. We’ll be singing carols. They’ll be decorating the spaces as they would have been at the time and making the decorations, since they were mostly handmade.”

Brittany Frederick, of Tiffen, Ohio, will be among the reenactors taking part in Victorian Christmas. She said this is the latest in a lifetime of reenacting programs for her.

“I grew up with historical reenacting. I started when I was 8, when I would join my dad, who was already an historical reenactor, and I volunteered at Fort Meigs … in Ohio. I’ve always had an interest in history. In college, I went to Ohio State University in history,” she said. “I met Alex a year ago while volunteering at the Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor. We were both involved in a program up there. I was always interested in helping out with programs like Victorian Christmas.”

She said she is glad to be able to give people the chance to be transported to a different time and share how different people would celebrate the holiday.

“We usually switch up characters based on the event. I usually don’t portray a particular person but rather try to portray a group of people, whether they are working class, business owners and so forth,” Frederick said. “In Troy, we’re hoping to give people an idea of what Christmas looked like through the eyes of three different socioeconomic classes. We’ll have different activities in each location.”

There will be different activities and attractions going on throughout the weekend.

“Every day will have a few different activities going on. They will be rolling through different things throughout the day, so depending on when you stop by they could be doing different things. On Friday evening, we might be decorating; on Saturday afternoon, we might be playing games; so it will change up,” said Konieczny. “We’ll have a string ensemble signed on for Friday evening, and we’re looking to get carolers for Saturday and Sunday.”

He added that those attending can interact as much or as little as they want.

“You can either be a fly on the wall and just observe, or you can interact with the reenactors and ask them what they are doing and converse with them,” Konieczny remarked. “We will have a craft for kids to do, probably making some sort of historic decoration, like an ornament. We’ll also have some items for sale in our general store that people can pick up.”

This is the first year the village has hosted a Victorian Christmas. Konieczny had the idea while reenacting with some friends.

“This is our first year we’ve done this,” he said. “I am a Civil War-era reenactor, as well, so I got together with a group of friends recently and we walked around Crossroads Village and we had a period picnic, and we all said we were having a lot of fun and wanted to do something again soon. The next thing coming up was Christmastime, so I said we should all do a program where I work. I pitched it to our director here, and she thought it was a great idea.”

He added that this is a fascinating time period to look at Christmas, since many modern holiday traditions have their roots in this era.

“Victorian Christmas is a really neat way to experience the origins of what we think of Christmas as it is now,” said Konieczny. “So many of our traditions, songs, decorations all come from this period. It’s a really neat opportunity to see the early days of all those things. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the family, and there are some great games and crafts to do, as well.”

Those wishing to attend are asked to sign up ahead of time.

“We appreciate people signing up in advance on our website, www.troyhistoricvillage.org,” said Konieczny. “There are time slots, so we spread people out a little bit. People also can get a day ticket, or they can buy a weekend pass and check in over the course of the weekend so they can see the different demonstrations and music and so forth.”

The organizers said this will be a unique and interesting way to get into the Christmas spirit.

“The year is supposed to be 1865, so this is the first Christmas after the end of the Civil War,” Konieczny explained. “I feel like that would be a pretty big Christmas for a lot of people with all of the soldiers coming home and the war being over. We’re going to try and incorporate all that in.”

“If you’re looking for something a little different than your usual Christmas outing ... this will be the event for you,” added Frederick. “It’s a great Christmas-themed event that isn’t focused on gifts. I think a lot of people are trying to get back to that, so this will be something very neat for them to see.”

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