ULSTER AMERICAN FOLK PARK
The year 2018 has flown by and already we are in the merry-making-month of December. Across the land Christmas trees are being decorated in homes in anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus. Back in the ‘olden days’ Christmas was celebrated a little differently than how it is today. Gifts were often hand-made; as were the Christmas tree decorations and garlands. It was really nice to receive an invite From Ulster American Folk Park to visit their Days of Christmas Past Tour. The festive tour allows visitors to rediscover the true spirit of Christmas as well as seeing what Christmas Past was like. A wonderful experience that included traditional singalong’s with the Mummers and festive readings in front of an open turf fire. Not forgetting a visit to a very jolly Santa Claus and Mrs Claus in the Grotto.
FORGING FRIENDSHIPS WITH MAGIC DUST
On a very wet day we entered the Ulster American Folk Park in wet-weather gear…brollies and wellies a must, as was warm coats. However it didn’t take too long to warm up once inside the Blacksmisth’s Smithy. An Elf was busy forging new shoes for the reindeer’s hooves. And to make sure the shoes carried the reindeer and Santa’s sleigh across the winter night sky; a sprinkle of Magic Elf Dust. The children’s eyes lit up as the shoe sparkled and fizzled as it was placed inside the red hot coals. A Very magical experience on the Days of Christmas Past tour. It must be tough on a reindeer’s hooves all that landing and taking-off on snowy rooftops. Hopefully the Elf made the shoes non-slip.
RUDOLPH HAS GONE AWOL
A short walk to the school and a very festive story awaits to be delivered by the Teacher. Little Margaret, quite a naughty child by all accounts; was busy making mischief in front of the boys and girls. The teacher read out T’was the Night Before Christmas as Margaret assisted with the puppetry; often being cheeky in the process. Boys and girls, and parents; sang along to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and other festive songs. But wait, someone had taken one of the reindeer name-plates off the wall? If it wasn’t Margaret then who could it be? Well, turns out Margaret wasn’t the only trouble-maker in class today. One of the parents had sneakily hidden Rudolph’s name-plate under his table…naughty boy. Hopefully he won’t get coal in his stocking from Santa.
MAKING MERRY WITH THE MUMMERS
Continuing our Days of Christmas Past tour at Ulster American Folk Park, the rain had returned. Wasting no time we hurried ourselves to the Dockside for a singalong with the Christmas Mummers. The Mummers, for those who have never heard of them; were family member and friends who dressed in bizarre costumes and visited homes within their community. During the 12 Days of Christmas you could expect a knock at the door and to be entertained with song, dance and elaborate sword fighting all in return for a silver coin. Matilda wasn’t too sure what to make of the Mummers but soon came around and joined in with the songs.
A PINT OF ROYAL BLOOD PLEASE LANDLORD
As part of the Mummers act King George was viciously slain by a Cockerel. Matilda was more interested in the chicken that the Cockerel had hanging on his rope belt; Hei Hei from Disney’s Moana. Nothing escapes her little eyes. As poor old King George lay dead on the slab, Mummy was selected to be part of the act and Dr Brown produced a very large syringe to take some of her ‘Royal’ blood. The only way a slain King George could be brought back to life was by being injected with the blood. Dr Brown did try to take blood from Lily-Belle at first but ‘grumpily’ she refused point blank to cooperate. Maybe Lily-Belle should audition for the role of Grinch this year?
It was Lily-Belle’s 10th birthday the day before attending the Days of Christmas Past tour and she had had friends over for a sleepover; poor thing was totally exhausted! All Mummer’ed out it was time to visit the Elf workshop and drop in with Mr and Mrs Claus in the Grotto.
READ ALL ABOUT OUR TRIP TO SEE SANTA IN LAPLAND
SANTA CAUGHT NAPPING
On the short ‘Days of Christmas Past’ walk to Santa’s Grotto, Lily-Belle spotted an Elf go inside the Workshop. As Matilda peered around the edge of the Hardware Shop to get a better look, her little face lit up with excitement. Hung on the Workshop door was a large stocking with the words Ho-Ho-Ho embroidered on the front. Inside the workshop Christmas lights twinkled and Happy the Elf greeted the boys and girls. Santa was no where to be seen? Mrs Claus asked the children to holler for Santa, and with a bellow from the little ones, Santa popped out of his bed which was inside a large cupboard.
Children stood in awe as Santa chatted and invited them to play with the old wooden toys made by Mr Doodles the Toymaker. Happy the Elf called each family in turn and children got to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what they desired for Christmas. At one point I honestly think I heard someone ask for a Llama? Sat with Santa and Mrs Claus was the perfect opportunity to capture the special moment with a photo. No waiting for pictures to be developed like the days of old, oh no, snap-click-print and the photos were available for collection straight away.
BISCUITS, BIRTHDAYS AND BROLLIES
Lily-Belle and Matilda loved seeing Santa and Mrs Claus, and as it was Lily-Belle’s 10th birthday weekend they sang Happy Birthday to her. After seeing the man in the red suit and receiving a gift each, the girls had the chance to eat traditional Christmas biscuits and drink warm apple juice…yummy. Our Days of Christmas Past tour had come to an end and we had planned on walking around the Ulster American Folk Park. Unfortunately the inclement weather had other ideas; the heavens had well and truly opened. Brolly up and we made a quick splash-dash to the well-stocked gift shop in the Visitor Centre. Goodies purchased it was time for home, with a stop off for food on the way.
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from The Callaghan Posse. Have fun, stay safe and please look out for your elderly neighbours this Christmas. But remember; Jesus is the reason for the season. Enjoy!
WOULD WE GO BACK
We are regular visitors to the Ulster American Folk Park and it really is a fantastic venue for any event. Seeing how a traditional Christmas would have been made us realise how spoilt we are in the 21st century. Christmas tree decorations were made from paper and foil, and the tree garlands from popcorn threaded onto string. Gifts were often small and handmade but always given with love. Christmas was about the people of the community and coming together to share stories and tales. Would we go back? Yes we would. But for now, we have popcorn garlands to make for our own tree.
With a very special THANK YOU to:
- Gillian Grattan – Consultant, MIPR at JComms
- Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, Elves, Mummers and Ulster American Folk Park for their hospitality
Happy Christmas to you all and thank you for making our visit to Ulster American Folk Park memorable. Looking forward to seeing you all again in 2019.
LILY-BELLE (age 10) SAYS
I enjoyed playing with the old fashioned toys in the workshop, they are so different from our toys. The flippy-acrobat toy was my favourite. Santa and Mrs Claus sang Happy Birthday to me which I liked.
MATILDA (age 4) SAYS
I liked Santa giving me a present and the lollipop I bought in the shop. The rocking horse was lots of fun and I’m going to ask Santa if I can have one. Watching the Elf make reindeer shoes was cool and he did magic.
Travel Dates: 9th December 2018
Days of Christmas Past ticket price:
- Adults (age 18+): £9.00
- Children (age 0-17): £9.00 and includes a gift from Santa Claus
- Photo with Santa cost: £10.00
- BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL at www.nmni.com
Disclaimer: our visit to Ulster American Folk Park for the Days of Christmas Past tour was by invite and gifted. Views, experiences and opinions are ultimately our own and completely unbiased and impartial.
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