Father Christmas, carolers headed to Stately Oaks

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

You know, when it comes to handing out presents in December, Santa Claus is the new kid on the block.

If you want to go back to the "old skool" holiday tradition, you have to go back to Father Christmas — the original holiday present-slinger. He rocks the Christmas season 17th century style, with his walking stick, long green, fur-lined, hooded cloak, and gold belt.

Just do not confuse him with that other gift-giver. You know, the jolly old man in the red and white suit, with an army of reindeer and elves, who came around a couple of decades after "Father Christmas."

Now, there is not some 17th-century, 19th-century rivalry going on between the two.

They are just different people, according to Ted Key, an Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., docent, who sometimes goes the "Father Christmas" alias.

"He [Father Christmas] is not the same person as Santa Claus," Key said. "Santa Claus came much later, but he, and Father Christmas, do know each other, and they are very good friends."

Historical Jonesboro's Stately Oaks plantation is set to soon get a visit from "Father Christmas." The historical society is scheduled to host "Breakfast with Father Christmas" on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 9:30 a.m., at Stately Oaks, which is located at 100 Carriage Lane, in Jonesboro. It is one of two upcoming holiday events taking place at the plantation.

The other event is a Christmas caroling event, featuring the St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church Children's Choir, on Saturday, Dec. 11, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The caroling is a first-time event, said Historical Jonesboro docent Elizabeth Whitley, while Key said he has been playing "Father Christmas" for the group for 25 years. The admission for both events is $5 per person, and the public is invited to attend.

During the "Breakfast with Father Christmas" event, attendees, particularly children, will get to enjoy breakfast with the holiday figure, before he tells them old European tales of his escapades, Key said. "They go back to the origins of Christmas," he said.

Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. President, Barbara Emert, said each attending child will receive a gift as well.

Whitley said, during the caroling event, the children's choir will perform traditional Christmas carols outside (weather permitting) at 6:30 p.m., and gingerbread men and hot apple cider will be served. If it is raining, she said, the children will sing in Stately Oaks' school house. If there is a large enough crowd, she added, the children will give a second performance at 7:30 p.m.

Emert said Historical Jonesboro is asking people who plan to attend either event to call in advance, so the group will know how many people to expect. She said Stately Oaks will be open for people to buy advance tickets, today and Saturday. Tickets will also be available for purchase Monday through Wednesday of next week, and again on Nov. 26, and Nov. 27. The plantation will be open from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., on each day.

For more information about either event, call (770) 473-0197.