Festive History

Festive History
Woman wearing 18th-century clothing holds a Christmas pudding while standing next to a table with baking items
A festive Christmas pudding at Daniel Boone Homestead's event last weekend (photo via DBH Facebook page)
The past couple of weeks have been filled with holiday programming on the Trails of History. There seems to have been plenty of pent-up demand after last Christmas season when everything was cancelled or online (although I would like to note that Ephrata Cloister received a Leadership in History award from the American Association for State and Local History for their 2020 virtual holiday pivot). The chance to see historic sites by candle and lantern light has been a tremendous draw, and a lack of serious winter weather has helped attendance. There are still some in-person and virtual holiday programs to come, so please check out the listings below. As always, it's a good idea to check ahead by visiting websites and Facebook pages to be sure there's been no change in plans. Trailheads staff (that is, me) will be away from Dec. 23 through the new year, so the info below likely won't get updated. Please see below for information on site schedules during the coming weeks.

Nighttime view with lanterns lighting both sides of paved path. Wooden sided building is to left with candles in the windows.
This year, Christmas at the Cloister was presented in person (photo via EC Facebook page)

All sites on the Trails of History (well, except Washington Crossing, which is run by DCNR) will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Most of our sites will also be closed on Dec. 24 and 31; Fort Pitt Museum and Somerset Historical Center will be open on both "eves," and The State Museum of Pennsylvania will be open 9 am to 1 pm those days. Here are some other holiday schedules that I'm aware of:
Be sure to check specific sites that you want to visit and remember that some are on reduced schedules for the next few months.

A room with bold colorful wallpaper and carpet patterns, roughly 1830s. Musical instruments are in the room as if for an at-home concert.
The parlor of the George Rapp House at Old Economy Village (photo via OEV Facebook page)

The Week Ahead

Saturday, December 18
  • StoryTime (in-person): read An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola; The State Museum of PA; 10:30-11:30 am; for kids ages 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Meet Belsnickel (in-person): meet the grumpy, fur-clad version of Santa Claus familiar in PA German culture; Old Economy Village; 11 am-1 pm; cost is $5 per person (child or adult), and snacks are included (Meet Belsnickel info)
Tuesday, December 21
  • Exploring PA German Christmas and New Year's Traditions (virtual): Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum; 7-8 pm; program is free, but you must register to receive the link (Virtual Program info and registration)
Wednesday, December 22
  • Explore! (in-person): learn about the changing of Fall to Winter and how it affects plants and animals in PA; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission; space is limited (Explore! info)
Thursday, December 23
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): discover holiday traditions, decorations and toys from the 1950s and 60s; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission; space is limited (Curiosity Kids info)

On Sale Now (as of 12/15; some programs will sell out)

  • Lantern Tours: Dec. 27-30 at Ephrata Cloister learn about the site's history through living history tours and performances; advance tickets required (Lantern Tour info)
  • Winter Day Camp: on Dec. 29 from 9 am to 4:30 pm Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will present a day camp for kids in grades 5-11; the focus is Christmas Around the World and includes a themed escape room; cost is $60 per camper ($54 for members); Dec. 17 is the last day to register (Day Camp info and registration)
  • Rails and Ales: enjoy an evening of craft beer among the museum's historic trains at the Railroad Museum of PA, April 9, 2022, 5:30-9 pm; must be 21 or older to attend; variety of ticket options, including designated driver tickets (Rails and Ales tickets)


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