Jacksonian Gazette

New Historic Faux Food for the Hermitage Mansion

Holiday food at the Hermitage

Christmas in mid-19th century Tennessee differed from current holiday traditions. There were no Christmas trees and Santa Claus did not become an iconic figure until the 1860’s. At the Hermitage, the decorations were more subdued, drawing from natural elements such as evergreens, flowering plants, and mistletoe. Despite these differences, one tradition that has held strong throughout the years is the centering of holiday celebrations around Christmas dinner.

During the month of October, the Collections Department produced new faux food to enhance the current holiday interpretation in the Hermitage mansion. Each piece was made using non-toxic materials and based on recipes and images from historic cookbooks, such as The Virginia Housewife (1824) and Seventy-Five Receipts, for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (1828). Our “recipes” were also influenced by the work of Sandy Levins of From cakes to candy, these new additions will bring the Jackson family Christmas stories to life.