Christmas Crafts and Cookies returns to Old Cahawba

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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Old Cahawba Archaeological Park is gearing up for its annual “Christmas Crafts and Cookies” event, scheduled for Dec. 2 from 10-11 a.m. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the festive spirit of the holiday season while exploring the historical significance of Cahawba, Alabama’s first capital in 1819.

Carmen Yelle, the Cultural Resources Assistant at the site, expressed her excitement for the upcoming event, noting that this marks the third edition. With COVID-19 restrictions no longer a hurdle, she anticipates an even more successful gathering this year.

“We talk about how the people of Cahawba celebrated Christmas; we make Christmas ornaments. Last year we painted wooden ornaments from the wood of Old Cahawba, so everyone will get to take home an ornament,” Yelle said. “We’ll have cookies and cocoa and Christmas music playing.”

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Old Cahawba, founded on the remains of a 16th-century Mississippian Indian village, served as Alabama’s initial capital until 1826 when the capital was moved to Tuscaloosa. Despite this shift, Cahawba thrived as a wealthy Antebellum town before its sudden and mysterious abandonment. 

Today, it stands as an essential archaeological site and an authentic ghost town, preserving the echoes of its past. The park grounds are open daily with the visitors center open Thursday through Monday for self-guided tours. Guided tours are available by pre scheduled appointments only.

Reflecting on the town’s heyday, Yelle shared that at one point, Cahawba was home to more than 3,000 people and even in that period, Christmas was a much-anticipated event. 

“There were all these shops where people could buy Christmas presents and they used to have these big dances,” she said.

The upcoming event aims to capture some of that historical Christmas spirit, shedding light on the extravagant celebrations that once helped define the town.

Linda Derry, the Old Cahawba Site Director, detailed the town’s Christmas traditions in an article written for the Selma Times-Journal in 2021. Derry wrote that before the Civil War, Christmas in Cahawba was marked by extravagant events, with the annual Christmas parade being a highlight. The parade brought together residents and visitors for a night of dancing and feasting, making it one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Now, on Dec. 2, visitors have a unique opportunity to partake in a new Christmas tradition at Old Cahawba. Those in attendance will also have the chance to visit the site’s gift shop to peruse their stock of old-fashioned candy and toys, stocking stuffers and local books. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 334-872-8058 or on the day of the event. Participants will meet at the visitor’s center, rain or shine.