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American Battlefield Trust offers glimpse of how Americans celebrated the holidays during wartime

(Washington, D.C.) — As Americans kick off the busy holiday season, the nation’s battlefields and historic sites are busy preparing events that commemorate holidays long ago. The hallowed grounds offer uniquely moving venues which allow visitors to experience the season as it was celebrated by our citizen-soldiers early in America’s history. In honor of this joyous time, the American Battlefield Trust recommends these activities this holiday season:

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December 8: Inns of Gettysburg Holiday Open House Tour, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The American Battlefield Trust is holding an open house at the site of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters in Gettysburg as part of the Inns of Gettysburg Holiday Open House Tour. The house and grounds, which served as Gen. Lee’s command center during the Battle of Gettysburg, were preserved by the Trust in 2016 as part of a $6 million acquisition and restoration project. In addition, the grounds and interpretive trail will be open from sunrise to sunset. Learn more.

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December 8: Christmas through the Ages at Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama

Fort Gaines will provide visitors a taste of Christmas through the ages. The 19th-century fort, best known for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay, will provide a picturesque backdrop as visitors learn about historical Christmas celebrations from soldiers in the 1700s through the 1900s and children craft seashell ornaments. Learn more.

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December 9: Colonial Christmas at Brunswick TownWinnabow, North Carolina

Join Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site to explore how the American colonists celebrated Christmas. Costumed interpreters will provide guided tours of St. Philips Anglican Church, and visitors can enjoy colonial refreshments, participate in traditional games or try a variety of 18th century crafts. The highlight of the evening will be an authentic period candlelit service in the ruins of St. Philips Anglican Church. Learn more.

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December 14-15: Candle Lantern at Fort Pulaski National Monument, Savannah, Georgia 

Fort Pulaski will again commemorate the Confederate Nog Party of 1861. The long-lived Savannah tradition will feature night-time tours of the fort by candlelight and oil lamps, giving visitors a glimpse into the Christmas party that gave the Confederate garrison at the fort a respite from the tension of impending battle in 1861. Visitors can experience a candlelight-guided tour of the fort while hot cider, egg nog, cookies, caroling and night-time weapons firings allow visitors to re-live the festive occasion. Seven programs will be offered in the evenings. Learn more.

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December 25: Christmas Day Crossing Reenactment, Washington Crossing,Delaware

On December 25, 1776, George Washington dared to cross the Delaware River, and his brave actions led to the defeat of the Hessians in Trenton and a turning point in the Revolutionary War. On Christmas Day, join fellow citizens from around the country to see several hundred reenactors clad in Continental military dress, including George Washington himself. Listen as General Washington delivers an inspiring speech and leads his troops across the river in replica Durham boats. Learn more.

For more ideas, check the American Battlefield Trust events page, National Park Service events calendar, visit a state park website or search for museums and historic sites near you.

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 50,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at

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