The poem ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas,’ was penned by Clement Moore in 1823. Commonly referred to as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” his poem was the inspiration for our present-day Santa Claus and changed the holiday forever. Forty years later, as the residents of Gettysburg were still reeling from the battle that changed their lives forever, Santa Claus offered a few moments of cheer that would help brighten the lives of those separated from fathers, sons and husbands during this tragic time in American history.
Candlelight Christmas tours of the Shriver House Museum, 309 Baltimore St. in Gettysburg, afford an opportunity to glimpse a by-gone era and experience the warmth of the season in a truly old-fashioned style. Travel back in time to see how the Shrivers may have decorated their home for an 1860s Christmas while hearing the story of the family and how the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War affected them.
Christmas tours will take place from Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22 through Dec. 15. Private tours for groups of 10 or more are welcome anytime throughout the holiday season; reservations are required.
Guided tours of the 1860 home of George, Hettie, Sadie (7), and Mollie (5) Shriver illustrate how Christmas was celebrated in the mid-19th century. The 4-foot tall candle-laden Christmas tree sits in its place of honor on the parlor table as a fire roars in the fireplace of the handsome room decorated with hand-made holiday greenery. After Sadie and Mollie hang their stockings on the mantle, they set out milk and cookies in anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus and his reindeer on that magical night. The smell of pine and popcorn fills the house bringing memories of Christmases past.
For additional information on the Shriver House Museum or to make reservations for a Christmas tour, call (717) 337-2800 or visit www.shriverhouse.org.