Celebrating the holidays often means taking part in family traditions year after year. Each activity holds meaning and value for a family—from trimming the tree to caroling in the neighborhood.
But have you ever wondered where these traditions originated? The staff and volunteers at Historic Columbia love sharing these stories with guests on tours and at programs during this time of year.
Visitors can explore two historic properties— the Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston Mansion—to see what a South Carolina Christmas looked like in years past. Holiday guides share fascinating tidbits on how current traditions emerged in our community while others have faded away.
One character who has changed over the years is the big man himself. The 1821 book, The Children’s Friend: A New Year’s Present, to Little Ones from Five to Twelve, reveals one of the most important animals to Santa Claus, his sleigh was pulled by one reindeer.
One year later, the poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, would further expand on our knowledge of Santa Claus. Today, we know this poem as “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s amazing to think how this poem remains popular after 195 years.
Christmas in South Carolina—especially in the 18th and 19th centuries— drew inspiration from other nations and cultures. Wreaths and greenery were fashioned from what was on hand in the nearby woods or—depending on where you lived—what grew in your yard.
The tradition of decorating with dried fruit comes from England. Mulled wine comes from the Portuguese tradition of serving hot Madiera during the holiday season.
Native South Carolinian Joel Poinsett brought Poinsettias back with him to the United States while serving as ambassador to Mexico. All these traditions are reflected in the seasonal décor at the Robert Mills House and Hampton Preston Mansion.
There are many opportunities for families to learn more about the holidays in the 19th century at Historic Columbia.
This holiday season, give a gift that will go down in history! For as long as supplies last, Historic Columbia is offering some great membership + gift opportunities.
Membership + Gift
Give the gift of a Historic Columbia membership! All new gift memberships purchased between now and Thursday, Dec. 21 will receive a complimentary Robert Mills House Christmas ornament.
Membership + Remembering Columbia Bundle
Purchase a membership between now and Thursday, Dec. 21 and receive $5 off the Remembering Columbia book. To receive this special discount, the book must be purchased at the sale of the membership. Individual membership book bundle: $55.00 Family membership book bundle: $70.00
Membership + Down Under Bundle
Back by popular demand, Historic Columbia’s Behind-the- Scenes Tour series opens the doors to Columbia Down Under! Join us for this exclusive event (Jan. 17 & 18), where you’ll enjoy wine, beer and light hors d’oeuvres along with the tour! Individual membership & One Down Under Tour Ticket $60 ($75 Value) Couple/Family membership & Two Down Under Tickets $ 100 ($130 Value)
The holiday season is here and Historic Columbia is pulling out all the stops! From carriage rides to caroling, there’s plenty to see and do in the Robert Mills Historic District through the new year. To kick-off the holiday season, HC will host its annual Santa Signing from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at The Gift Shop at Robert Mills House. This free, family-friendly event is the perfect opportunity to get into the holiday spirit, visit with Santa, enjoy holiday activities and begin checking off your shopping list! In addition, guests will have the opportunity to tour parts of the Robert Mills House and see the elves hard at work, gingerbread cookies and goodies baked by Mrs. Claus, and wrapped gifts and hanging stockings by the fireplace. Guests will receive 30%-off their purchase at the Gift Shop and light refreshments.
For those interested in peeking in on holidays past, holiday tours will be available through Dec. 31. Visit us at 1616 Blanding St to see a variety of historic holiday decorations and seasonal traditions in the Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion. Guides will tell tales of holidays past in Columbia and demonstrate how families decorated and entertained during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
And for those who aren’t ready for December holidays just yet, Thanksgiving weekend is a perfect time to enjoy HC’s historic gardens. The beautiful grounds and gardens of HC’s historic properties are always free and a wonderful way to walk off Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family – or bring a picnic of leftovers! Historic Columbia’s properties include more than 14 acres of landscapes, featuring gardens that range from an expansive park-like setting with an elaborate formal garden to a traditional 19th-century swept yard.
Before you head this way in your sleigh, be aware that Historic Columbia and all our properties will be closed on Thursday, November 23, for Thanksgiving. The last tour will be given at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 22. Tours will resume at regular hours on Friday, November 24.
Ready to get started? Historic Holiday Tours are free for HC members, $5 for youth and $8 for adults, and tours run through Dec. 31 with special events and programs happening along the way. While the Santa Signing is free, registration for this event is highly encouraged. To purchase tickets and to register, visit historiccolumbia.org, email or call (803) 252-1770 x 23.
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We are getting so excited about the historic total eclipse coming to Columbia in just two weeks! Whether you’re a seasoned celestial aficionado, or a newbie to historic astronomical phenomenon, we’ve got all your eclipse viewing needs covered at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills!
Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ will be here soon, and we’ve been hard at work finding exciting items, deals, tours, tickets and trips for The Palladium Society’s 11th annual silent auction! We’re particularly excited to have the first Behind-the-Glass tour of Hunter-Gatherer’s new brewery, complete with a private tasting, up for grabs during the event, keep reading for a small sampling of some of our auction items, and join us next Thursday to learn more about these and our other packages.
Explore the great outdoors without traveling far from home:
Columbia Famously Adventurous Package
Historic Fishing Adventure
Deer & Turkey Hunting on a 100-Acre Farm in Richland County
Get moving in the Soda City:
Get Fit! Package
Golf Day for You & a Buddy
Running into the Past with HC’s John Sherrer
Spend a night out on the town and explore the culture of Columbia::
SC Philharmonic Date Night
Nutcracker Ballet Basket
Ring in the New Year on Main Street
Sample some of the Soda City’s finest cuisine and learn to make your own tasty treats:
Raid My Pantry Private Cooking Event
Canning Dinner with Scott Hall & Mary Roe
Dine on Devine
Get out of town for a weekend and take a trip to:
Mount Pleasant, SC
Virginia Mountain Getaway
Gamecock football tickets, beer, parking: tailgate done.
USC Gameday Package
Get your tickets to Bluegrass, Bidding & BBQ and join us October 23 for your chance to win these and other exciting items and packages up for bid!
It’s time to place your orders with the Palmetto Garden Club for fresh and festive holiday greenery delivered directly from the mountains of North Carolina! Make decorating and gift-giving easy with a wide assortment of wreaths, garlands, table runners, flowers, pecans and garden tools, and support Historic Columbia’s garden restoration projects with your purchase.
All pre-paid orders must be received by Palmetto Garden Club by Thursday, October 30. Visit PalmettoGardenClub.org to download the order form and learn more, and please remember to make all checks out to Palmetto Garden Club. Orders must be picked up Thursday, December 4 between 10 am and 3 pm. Questions? Contact Caitlin O’Brien at 803.252.7742 x 15 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome spring into your home and garden with a visit to the Gift Shop at Robert Mills this weekend during our 2014 Gardening Symposium. The Gift Shop will open early this Saturday, April 12, at 7:30 am for your shopping convenience, and don’t forget to bring your symposium brochure to enjoy 25% off all merchandise (excluding consignment items). Be sure to check out what the vendors and garden professionals who will also be on site to see what they have on sale as well!
It’s no joke! During the entire month of April, the Gift Shop at Robert Mills is proud to give our members, docents, staff, volunteers and board members a special thank you offer of 30% off all merchandise throughout the shop (excluding consignment items). This is our way of saying thank you to each of you for dedicating your time, energy and passion to Historic Columbia!
Come by the Gift Shop during our normal business hours to see what’s new and save! For more information about the shop, please call 803.252.1770 x 25 or email email@example.com.
Our gardens are blooming, and spring has officially sprung in Columbia! Come enjoy our gardens, and take home a piece of that spring season with our mini arbors. Great for decorating or as a gift, these arbors are available in a variety of styles in the Gift Shop at Robert Mills.