Celebrating Chatham’s Holiday Traditions

From candy cane making to the Christmas by the sea stroll, it’s a magical time of year.

By Debra Lawless

                                                                       CHATHAM CANDY MANOR

Making Candy Canes-14Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer

Chatham Candy Manor
484 Main St., Chatham

What says “holiday magic” better than a freshly made candy cane? The Chatham Candy Manor makes seven flavors of canes: peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, tutti-frutti, cinnamon, Cape Cod cranberry and a popular new flavor—sea salt caramel. Starting the day after Thanksgiving and continuing every Saturday until Christmas, you can watch the staff hand-making a batch of 250 candy canes.

Candy canes are a mixture of “corn syrup and sugar, water, flavor and a lot of hard work,” says Sue Carroll, who has worked at the store for nearly 40 years. The mixture bubbles away in a large copper kettle for an hour. On a Saturday in December, the air is redolent of peppermint as the young, the old and everyone in between crowd around the fudge counter to watch the candy crew pour the molten candy cane mixture onto trays to cool. “It is a tradition,” says Carroll. “We’ve watched kids grow up” over the years.

As the mixture cools, the crew forms it into something that resembles a loaf of bread dough. This is the moment for the singing of the candy cane song:
“Oh I took a lick of my peppermint stick/And it tasted oh so yummy!”Making Candy Canes-13

Next, the crew pulls the dense 15-pound loaf from a hook in the wall to aerate it. “It makes it so you won’t break your teeth,” says Carroll. After a red stripe is applied to three sides of the loaf, a rope-like piece is pulled off the end and twisted to create the characteristic red swirls. The rope is then snipped into candy-cane lengths, which are bent into crooks. After the candy canes harden, they are placed in cellophane bags.

“We put on quite a show,” says Carroll. “We give everyone a good time.”

Candy cane-making displays at the Chatham Candy Manor, 484 Main St., Chatham, begin at 11 a.m. on Saturdays until Christmas. For more information, call the store at 508-945-0825.

Making Candy Canes-16


Making Candy Canes-7


Photography by Debra Lawless

The Caleb Nickerson Homestead
1107 Orleans Road, North Chatham.


Authentic Colonial cooking is the centerpiece of the historic Caleb Nickerson Homestead’s Thirteenth Annual Holiday Open House, sponsored by the Nickerson Family Association (NFA) from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 3. Plenty of food—from savories to sweets—will be available to sample.

2CalebHoliday“It’s the Nickersons’ way of giving back to the community for all the support it has given to us,” says Ron Nickerson, NFA vice president.

Colonial cook Maureen Leavenworth presides over the hearth in the keeping room with its red spatter-paint floor. Her crowd-pleaser dish is “Mrs. Bixby’s Chicken on a String.” The chicken roasts as it spins on a cotton string looped on a hook over the fire.

Leavenworth will also serve dishes such as mushroom savories, hand-whipped eggnog, pounded cheese, candied orange peel, pink cream, coriander ginger cake and mincemeat—all made from authentic 18th- and 19th-century recipes. The three fireplaces will roar merrily as the foods roast.


Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer

The Christmas by the Sea Stroll Weekend, sponsored by the Chatham Merchants Association, kicks off at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 9 with a light parade and carol festival proceeding from the Chatham Community Center and down Main Street to Sears Park. There, the town Christmas tree lighting will be held at 6 p.m.; hot chocolate, a horse-drawn wagon and bell ringers will complete the scene. Santa himself will be available in the Chatham Chamber of Commerce’s information booth to determine if you’ve been naughty or nice from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

On Dec. 10, the Holiday Historic Inn & Museum Tour will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Six of Chatham’s beautiful old inns, as well as the Atwood House Museum at 347 Stage Harbor Road, will hold open houses.

“The holidays are a magical time of the year, and the Atwood House Museum has something planned for all ages,” says Danielle Jeanloz, director of the Chatham Historical Society.

The 1752 house will be decorated with simple Colonial decorations and one of its fireplaces lighted, lending a warm glow to the gathering. On view in the main gallery will be an old-fashioned train exhibit. Refreshments will be served.

Chatham Holiday Decorations-2

The weekend will also include a Chatham Community Christmas concert from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the First Congregational Church of Chatham, 650 Main Street. A chorus of 75 will perform traditional carols under the direction of Joseph Marchio. For ticket information and more events planned during Christmas by the Sea, click here.