A Delawarean Christmas: Holly, Jumbles and… Gunpowder?

One thing became quickly clear after we moved to Delaware. If you live here, you are probably: (a) an attorney, (b) an engineer, (c) a DuPont, or (d) all of the above. This is evident everywhere. Even Christmas.

A Very Longwood Christmas: DuPonts as Conservationists

One of our first holiday outings was a trip to Longwood Gardens. The property has a long history, passing from the Lenni Lenape tribe to the Quaker farmers who first planted an arboretum there. In 1906, when a lumber miller operator acquired the property, Pierre S. du Pont intervened to save the trees. Today, Longwood is one of the country’s leading horticultural display gardens.

The gardens go all out for A Longwood Christmas. The conservatory is decked out for the holiday like Versailles, with topiaries, wreaths, and more than 50 trees trimmed in holiday hues and crystal ornaments. Thousands of floating cranberries, apples, and gilded walnuts create an intricate mosaic styled after a French parterre garden. Fountains dance to holiday music, carolers stroll, and half-million twinkling lights deck the halls, trees, and everything in between.

Unlike California, however, boots, warm coats, scarves, and mittens are not fashion accessories. They are essential. The temperature today? A brisk 28 degrees. I highly recommend frequent stops for hot chocolate. Or a stop by the Beer Garden for bratwurst, a beer, some hard cider, or a nip of Bailey’s in that hot cocoa.

We are now members, so if you are in town and would like to visit the gardens, let me know! (I have extra gloves and hats.)

The Hagley Museum: DuPont Holiday Decorations and Explosives

We also visited the Hagley Museum, another not-to-be-missed Wilmington destination. The 1803 du Pont family ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills, features holiday decorations and interpretations of the French New Year’s gift exchanges and Twelfth Night celebrations.

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By Ed Meskens

After touring the house, we stopped at the DuPont: The Explosives Era exhibit. Then on to a tour of the powder yards with their historic stone structures that housed the powder manufacturing process, working 19th-century machinery, waterwheels and turbines powered by the river, and a sixteen-ton operating roll mill. And what better way to wrap up than watching the black powder explosion demonstrations?  Unless its a stop at the site and debris of one of the largest accidental explosions in the history of the yards. Ka-boom!

Holiday Cookies: Jumbles by Louisa de Pont

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Jumbles were a classic 19th century cookie. Louisa Gerhard du Pont (1816-1900), wife of Henry du Pont (1812-1889), apparently used rose water in her recipe. The Hagley is giving out copies to all holiday visitors, so I am including the recipe here. I don’t have any rose water on hand. But if any of you want to try some du Pont-inspired baking, let me know how it turns out!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon rose water

Cream together butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients. Make cookies by placing about a teaspoon of dough on a buttered cookie sheet and flattening out with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until edges are slightly brown.

Happy Holidays from Delaware!

Mette K.

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