It was 4 degrees with a breeze and still I don’t regret being there stomping my feet to keep the circulation moving. I don’t know what the official wind chill was but I do know it was cold! Jack Frost was certainly nipping at my nose, fingers and toes!
The Characters and Spectators Too, in Dickens’ Garb Added a Nostalgic Touch
Ever since I first heard of the annual Wassail Weekend in Woodstock Vermont, I’ve wanted to attend at least some of the activities.
The Horses Ranged in Size from Very Large to Very Small
December is always a pretty busy month for me and this year was no exception. Weekends include long to-do lists. I always try to embrace a few things that embody the traditions of Christmas and Yuletide in this lead up to the holidays though, because there’s no point in having the ‘to-do’ list caught up if I don’t ‘have the ‘holiday spirit’.
Note How Steep some of the Streets in Woodstock are, Leading to the Green
I don’t like to shop at any time of year, other than at unique specialized places with unusual offerings, see Unburied Treasure. I avoid the mall year ’round and you will never catch me near there this time of year. I make as many of my gifts as possible each year and support local talent and products as much as I can. When I holiday shop, it’s at winter farmers’ markets, craft fairs and local holiday open houses.
I prefer to spend December baking, connecting with friends, family and neighbors, listening to Old Yuletide carols and wrapping gifts lovingly. Every year I like to fit in a few concerts, story tellings, viewings of local live productions of “A Christmas Carol” or “The Nutcracker” or other mood setters. This is where Wassail Weekend comes in. I’d seen photos of the parade on and off over the years. Always lots of horses and people dressed in Dickens Victorian garb. I was intrigued.
The weekend this year included a play Friday night, and a craft sale, the parade, a bonfire and tree lighting on the green, chili cook-off, wassail sampling, traditional Christmas at Billings Farm and lots of other interesting events on Saturday and Sunday. A full list of this year’s activities can be found at the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce website.
A Lot of Chilly Spectators Waited Patiently in the Cold ! .
Woodstock is a beautiful town any time of year. Winter highlights many of its natural charms and Christmas sets off the Colonial and Victorian architecture in a special way. A multitude of wood, brick and granite fronted shops nestle shoulder to shoulder and offer unique selections and the atmosphere here is conducive to relaxing and soaking up the holiday spirit. A fresh coating of snow lends an added patina of allure to the already idyllic New England Village of Woodstock.
The Woodstock Inn Created a Nice Backdrop to the Parade
The forecast Saturday called for record low temperatures and a big snow storm rolling in late that afternoon. We were undeterred as we embarked upon our 150 mile round trip adventure from mid New Hampshire to Vermont. Heading north, we watched the mercury drop on the car thermometer and noted more snow on the ground than at home. I listened to classic Christmas Carols and Medieval Yuletide music as I drove and was especially grateful for the extra pair of wool socks and thick wool scarf and hat I’d worn…
Local Residents Seem to Enjoy Wassail Weekend as Well as Visitors
We arrived in Woodstock just after noon. We got a bite to eat and attended a craft fair full of interesting items and crafts people. We headed into the center of town and found a parking spot on a side street, then we aimed for the centrally located green where many of the festivities were already underway. Someone was reading the history of the Wassail Tradition over an intercom system and inviting people to try samples and collect recipes. Carolers were setting up nearby…
Hearty Stock, Mankind and Beast
Man, it was cold! We were actually thankful to be walking to keep our feet from freezing. Hands and faces were another challenge altogether. We crossed the covered bridge and gathered on the green with hundreds of other spectators. The parade route included a tour around the green followed immediately afterward by lighting the tree, the Yule log bonfire and caroling. We chose a strategic spot across from the picturesque Woodstock Inn and danced in place to keep warm. Many Victorian bedecked men and women strolled through the crowds. Fun!
After a few minutes, we heard the jingle of distant harness bells signaling the arrival of horses and riders at the far end of the Village Green. We could see the horses and ponies, riders and walkers, carriages and sleighs coming and going from our location. It was a beautiful and heartwarming display of Old Fashioned Christmas spirit, making me almost forget my tingling fingers and nose.
We left soon after the parade to get home before the more than a foot of snow that arrived in our own Winter Wonderland over the next several hours. While shoveling Sunday, my thoughts kept escaping back to the magic of the day before in Woodstock Vermont. Someday perhaps, we’ll be able to experience even more of this very special annual event in Woodstock.
For now, my Christmas Spirit is appeased!