By David Pendered

Oakland Cemetery is providing a sense of stability in an uncertain era, selling wreaths and hosting events to ring in the season – and doing so in a fashion in keeping with the coronavirus pandemic.

oakland, holiday, winter
In a prior year, the winter holiday at Oakland Cemetery has provided opportunities for reenactors and designers. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Traditions at Oakland Cemetery can serve as touchstone of the winter holiday season, in whatever form the observances may take. The gardens built at burial sites have been gathering places since the late 1890s.

This winter holiday tradition continues even as families have been encouraged not to gather for Thanksgiving. Or, if they do assemble, to practice certain procedures intended to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Victorian Holiday is being staged for its sixth year, on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. No tickets are required to enter the event Oakland bills as its seasonal open house. Here’s the rundown as posted on a page on Oakland’s website:

Pop-Up Shop at the Bell Tower

  • “Stop by Oakland’s Pop-Up Shop for all your holiday shopping and find gifts unique to Oakland Cemetery, seasonal novelties, books, and much more. No cash. Card only. Face coverings required. Please maintain social distancing while shopping.

Holiday Hunt

  • “After you’ve shopped for gifts and greenery, continue your day at Oakland by taking part in the  Holiday Hunt! Our self-guided scavenger hunt is the perfect activity for cemetery sleuths of all ages. You can buy your packet in advance or pick one up at the Pop-Up Shop during Victorian Holiday.

Holiday Photos

Oakland Cemetery’s winter holiday provides a time to shine for decorators and reenactors. Credit: Kelly Jordan
Oakland Cemetery’s winter holiday provides a time to shine for decorators and reenactors. Credit: Kelly Jordan
  • “Bring the family for a fantastic photo opportunity. Several mausoleums around Oakland’s Bell Tower will be decorated for the season by local garden clubs and designers. Strike a pose and vote for your favorite holiday decor.

Warm Drinks

  • “Warm up with warm drinks from Finca to Filter—cocoa, coffee, and more.”

Wreaths are available for pre-order online. They are made of fresh-cut greenery sourced from a farm in North Carolina. The material is assembled into a wreath and decorated with a red velvet ribbon.

For those who want to take a wreath home, Oakland asks that wreaths be picked up during the Victorian Holiday Green Market, Dec. 5 and Dec. 6. Oakland is offering an incentive to picking up wreath during the market – a bundle of free greenery.

Another incentive of pick-up during the green market is the opportunity to have a professional designer add freshly cut greenery to the wreaths. This comes with an additional fee. Greenery cut from the grounds of Oakland Cemetery can be added, with the selection of picked mixed greenery including magnolia stems and other plants.

oakland, winter holiday
A reenactor poses in front of a mausoleum in Oakland Cemetery. Credit: Kelly Jordan

For those who can’t attend the green market, or don’t want to attend, the alternative is to arrange a pick-up date and collect the order on the porch of the Visitors Center. The touchless pickup can be done any day through Dec. 17, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The only restriction is that the pickup must be scheduled at least two days after the order was placed.

For families who want the wreath to market a burial place in Oakland Cemetery, provisions have been made for the wreath to be placed so that the buyer doesn’t have to visit the cemetery.

The touchless system of exchange will be implemented during the Victorian Holiday Green Market. Face coverings are required and all payments must be made by a card. No cash is to be accepted.

The green market is to be open Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Dec. 6, from noon to 4 p.m.

The featured merchandise inside a group of tents is to be all green – embellished wreaths, garlands, specialty trees and assorted greenery.

oakland, snow, holiday
In a prior year, snow has added a seasonal touch to the winter holiday at Oakland Cemetery. Credit: Kelly Jordan

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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