Share the seasonal traditions with this historic North Carolina community.
If you’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, you’ve seen historic, costumed interpretation at its most polished and regimented. Old Salem lacks that sheen and form, which is exactly why I prefer it. I’m enchanted by its folksy nature, by the offerings of comfortable accessibility.
Our tour group silently shuffles over cobblestone streets. The ambient light from the windows of centuries-old buildings boosts the glimmer of the guide’s lantern. Throughout the rest of Winston-Salem, brake lights burn red in traffic lines and asphalt parking lots fill to capacity. Not here in Old Salem. Here, I have gone back 200 years--temporarily removing myself from the fray.
At each stop on our candlelit tour, I understand a little more about the Moravians, a Christian-based sect from the Czech
Republic that founded Salem in 1766. I learn of the kindred community of tradesmen who addressed the men as brothers and the
women as sisters.
These 18th- and 19th-century tours include stories and music in some of the community’s best-preserved homes. Four tours are offered beginning at 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from November 28-December 20. Cost: $18 adults, $12 ages 6-16, free ages 6 and under.
Here in Old Salem, I’m so enlightened by this simple Christmas celebration, I slough off the layers of holiday anxieties like
extra bed blankets. You need only to step on the cobbles to experience the same.
Old Salem Museums and Gardens: 600 South Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101; www.oldsalem.org or 1-888-653-7253. Museum admission: $21 adults, $10 ages 6-16, free ages 6 and under. Access to gardens and stores is free.
"Old Salem by Candlelight" is from the December 2008 issue of Southern Living.