Christmas at Johnston Farm returns Saturday


PIQUA — The Johnston Farm will revive a popular local tradition on Saturday, Dec. 3, hosting Christmas at the Johnston Farm for the first time in three years.

“This is an opportunity to reacquaint yourselves with our past,” Site Manager Andy Hite said. “Our visitors enjoy the opportunity to sort of peal back the cover of history, and gain some insight into Christmases past and learn a bit more about where many of our current traditions that are a part of our celebrations have come to us from, and what they mean.”

Christmas at the Johnston Farm is returning from a three-year absence, due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2019 and 2020, as well as recent renovations to the Johnston Family Home last year. The theme for this year’s event will be “A Johnston Christmas.”

Reservations are required. More information can be found online at

“We are offering a walk through the Christmases that the family would have seen,” Hite said, “from the time the first Christmas in 1815 was celebrated here, until the last Christmas in the early 1870s by the family.”

Tours will run every 40 minutes starting at 5 p.m., and each room will be decorated to highlight a different time period. Tours will conclude in the winter kitchen, with refreshments reminiscent of what the Johnston family would have been familiar with during the holiday period.

“Since the home’s interior has been returned to its high Federal style, we felt that visitors would like to be able to spend more time in the rooms,” Hite said.

Christmas at the Johnston Farm is staffed by volunteers, who do all of the decorating and also serve as tour guides.

“We are fortunate to have staff and volunteers who have a flair for decorating,” Hite said. “After much research, they have recreated a Christmas experience that would have been familiar to the Johnston family.”

Christmas holidays during the Johnston Family’s time would have been celebrated much differently than they are now, Hite said.

“A Federal Christmas was much simpler than what we are used to today,” he said. “The very elaborate celebrations came in during the Victorian period, but that is not to say that Christmas would not have been celebrated with as much fervor.”

“The celebration would have been different than what we are accustomed to today,” Hite said. “It would have begun with extended worship for the family and then a return home when family and friends would have been welcomed in to share the day with John and Rachel Johnston and the remainder of the family.”

Santa Clause did not exist when the Johnston’s lived at the farm.

“Santa Clause, as we view him, was not here yet,” Hite said. “Our image of Santa was a creation of artist Thomas Nast, a little later in the 19th century.”

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