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From late November until about Twelfth Night, the house is decorated for Christmas in a simulation of the way the Davises and others of the period would have decorated for the season. There are two Christmas trees: one very small one in the Nursery, complete with an image of Robert E. Lee, and one larger, “table-top” tree in the West Parlor (left), both decorated with the kinds of things that were typical of the period, including homemade gifts and walnuts, which were opened, emptied and glued back together with small gifts inside for the children. Christmas trees were still a relatively new concept in America—among the first on display in this country was one put up in Williamsburg in 1842 by the man who would serve as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church during the Civil War.
Twenty-first century visitors to the White House of the Confederacy will see much ivy and holly lavished throughout the house (ours is artificial; they of course would have used the real thing), complete with a mistletoe “kissing ball” hanging down from the roof between the two parlors. In the State Dining Room, the items relating to a war council of 1862 are removed to make way for a holiday party (right).
Though there are no set dates of display, Christmas dress is generally on exhibit from late November through early January as an addition to the winter dress that is displayed from November through March. You can also see what kinds of items are displayed during the summer months here. If you are planning a visit to the White House and want to know what will be on display, please contact the Museum prior to your visit and we will do our best to answer your questions.