The Christmas season will be here soon and with it the stress of shopping, decorating and entertaining. But an upcoming event at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe is reminding us that celebrating the holidays wasn’t always this busy.
The historic site will host a workshop called Christmas: 1860s Style! at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13. It’s open to everyone 8 and older and admission is $5. Registration is required.
The event will let guests turn back time and see how the Mahaffie family celebrated Christmas all those many years ago.
“The Mahaffie family celebrated Christmas but it wasn’t as elaborate in the 1860s as it is today,” event coordinator Alexis Woodall said.
One example of the simplicity of the holiday can be seen in the Christmas trees of that time period. Instead of a large, ornate tree, most families had a small tree that was displayed on a table.
And with the simple tree came simple decorations. Families typically strung cranberries and popcorn on the tree and decorated it with flags or small toys.
Those who attend the Christmas: 1860s Style! workshop will get to create a simple Christmas ornament similar to one that may have hung on the Mahaffie family’s tree.
They’ll also get a chance to taste Christmas pudding, a classic holiday dish from the 1860s.
According to Woodall, Christmas was an important day for families like the Mahaffies, but it didn’t necessarily get the kind of attention that other holidays did back in the 1860s.
“Farmers would still have to do chores on Christmas and would take a break to celebrate with family,” Woodall said. “But on George Washington’s birthday and Independence Day, farmers would actually stop and take the whole day off for those holidays.”
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm will host a couple of events to help local families get into the Christmas spirit.
On Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, Mahaffie will host its annual Breakfast with Santa event from 8:30 to 10 a.m. For $8 per person, families will get to enjoy a breakfast of pancakes and sausage and a visit with Santa. The cost of admission also includes a family photo and a homemade Christmas ornament craft. Reservations for the event are required.
Then on Dec. 1, Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm will play host to its free Christmas Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It’s an opportunity for people to see the historic site decorated for the holidays. For an additional fee of $3, guests can take a ride on the stagecoach, weather permitting. Gingerbread house kits will also be available for purchase for $4.
Mahaffie officials said they’re excited to open their doors to visitors this time of year.
“It gives people an opportunity to get a feel for what the holidays were like and maybe they will incorporate some of that simplicity into their holidays today,” Woodall said.