Naughty or Nice?

Naughty or Nice?
Man with white hair and beard dressed in brown fur as Belsnickel. A decorated Christmas tree is next to him and a family group is chatting with him with their backs to the camera.
Photo via Old Economy Village Facebook page

There are still several chances to see Belsnickel (or Belsnickle) on the Trails of History this weekend. For those unfamiliar, Belsnickel is a Pennsylvania German character often described as a gruffer, grittier Santa Claus. Belsnickel keeps St. Nicholas's list of who's naughty and who's nice, but he's not a jolly old soul. However your December is stacking up, I hope you're on the nice list and that you're finding time to enjoy your own holiday traditions with family and friends.

For those looking ahead to next weekend, all Trails of History sites will be closed on Sunday, December 25 (except Washington Crossing Historic Park, which hosts the annual reenactment of George Washington's Christmas 1776 crossing of the Delaware River). Most TOH sites will also be closed on Saturday, December 24, and Monday, December 26. There may also be other schedule changes. As always, please check ahead to be sure the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

Text reads "Make the most of your summer. Apply now to become a 2023 PHMC Keystone Summer Intern! [rest of text in blog copy below]

Looking even further ahead, if you know a current undergraduate or graduate student who is exploring the public history field, please share the link for PHMC's 2023 Keystone Summer Internship program. Keystone interns are paid $15.88 per hour for 225 to 300 hours over the course of the 10-week internship period. Internships are available in Harrisburg at The State Museum of PA and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as well as at 9 Trails of History sites around the state. For more info, visit Application deadline is January 16. (Image text: Keystone Interns will engage in meaningful work preserving Pennsylvania's rich history while receiving preprofessional training and the opportunity to network with historic preservation and museum professionals.)

Up Next

Today, December 16

  • Candlelight Tours (in-person); Friday and Saturday, 3-6 pm; Pennsbury Manor
    • Candlelight tours of the Manor House will be offered at 3, 4, and 5 pm. Regular admission charged. Reservations are encouraged but not required (Candlelight Tour info).
  • Late Nite with the Belsnickle! (in-person); 7-9 pm; Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
    • Holiday-themed crafts, PA Dutch traditions, a visit with Belsnickle, and an adult beverage. Must be at least 21 to attend. Event is rain or shine; dress for the weather, including shoes appropriate for walking the site. Tickets are $40 (Late Nite info and tickets).

Saturday, December 17

  • StoryTime (in-person); 10:30-11:30 am; The State Museum of PA
    • Read Orion and the Dark and create a day/night wheel to explore more about the dark. For ages 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission. Please sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk (StoryTime info).
  • Meet Belsnickel (in-person); Noon-2 pm; Old Economy Village
    • Belsnickel is a PA Dutch tradition, sort a grumpy version of Santa Claus. Children will go on a scavenger hunt, make a craft, have a snack, and find out if they're on Belsnickel's naughty or nice list. Come and go as you please during the two-hour program. Admission is free, but registration is required (OEV Belsnickel registration).
  • Putz'n and Brutz'n with the Belsnickle! (in-person); 1-3 pm; Landis Valley Vilage & Farm Museum
    • This family-friendly event includes a walking tour, making a punched tin ornament, light refreshments, a visit with the Belsnickle, and more. The program will be held rain or shine, so please dress for the weather with appropriate shoes. Tickets are $30 for people age 8 and up, $20 for ages 3-7. Space is limited, and reservations are required (LVM Family Belsnickle event).

Wednesday, December 21

  • Explore! (in-person); 11:30 am-12:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Learn about dendrochronology, the study of tree rings and what they reveal about the age of a tree and the history of the area around it. Included in regular admission (Explore! info).

Thursday, December 22

  • Curiosity Kids (in-person); 11:30 am-12:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Discover and play with the toys, games and puzzles from the 1970s and '80s and create your own retro holiday ornament. For grades K-2 and included in regular admission. Space is limited, so please sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (Curiosity Kids info).

Friday, December 23

  • Art of the State Stroller Tour (in-person); 10:30-11 am; The State Museum of PA
    • Fine arts curator Amy Hammond will lead a 30-minute tour of Art of the State 2022 for children in strollers or front carriers and their grown-ups. At the same time, museum staff will provide activities for older kids in Village Square, adjacent to the exhibit gallery. Included in regular admission (Stroller Tour info).

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Lantern Tours (in-person); Tuesday, Dec. 27, thru Friday, Dec. 30, 6-8 pm; Ephrata Cloister
    • This theatrical style program is led by the Student Historians, local high school students who take on the roles of people from history as the story unfolds in selected historic buildings. This year visitors will join Mrs. Fahnestock as she plans the wedding of an Ephrata Sister and a young man working for the Brothers. This light-hearted look at the past will provide enjoyment for the entire family. Advance tickets are required: $12 for adults, $9 for ages 6-17 (Lantern Tours info and tickets).
  • Winter Day Camp (in-person); Wednesday, Dec. 28, and Thursday, Dec. 29, 9 am-Noon; Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
    • Campers age 5 to 11 will explore Christmas and winter themes through old and new children's books and related activities. Sign up for both days or just one. Registration closes Tuesday, Dec. 20 (Winter Day Camp info & registration).
  • Revolutionary Speaker Series (in-person); Saturday, Jan. 21, Noon-2 pm; Brandywine Battlefield Park
    • Jennifer Janofsky, director and public historian at Red Bank Battlefield, and Wade Catts, principal archaeologist with South River Heritage Consulting, will present a program on recent excavations at Fort Mercer and Red Bank Battlefield Park. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online (Rev Speaker Series tickets).


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