Old Sturbridge Village hosts Christmas by Candlelight

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celebration of favorite holiday traditions, music, and food
Nine evening events set for December 7-9; 14-16; 21-23

STURBRIDGE, Mass. (Nov. 18, 2012): Like a holiday card come to life, each December Old Sturbridge Village transforms itself into a magical candlelit 19th-century village for its popular "Christmas by Candlelight" celebrations. As visitors stroll through the village, they can hear Victorian carolers, enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride, meet Father Christmas and Santa Claus, join in a Christmas carol sing-a-long, and much more.

OSV historians will share the origins of favorite holiday traditions like roasted chestnuts, Christmas trees, Yule logs, gingerbread houses, and sugar plums. Now in its tenth year, Christmas by Candlelight will take place from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings Dec. 7-9, 14-16, and 21-23. The Museum Gift Shop and Oliver Wight Tavern will be open for holiday shopping and dining during Christmas by Candlelight. Event sponsors are Fallon Community Health Plan and Savers Bank. For details: www.osv.org or 508-347-3362.

Old Sturbridge Village’s “Christmas by Candlelight” is an escape from the frenzy of the modern Christmas season, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the old-fashioned spirit of the holidays and learn how today’s favorite traditions originated. Visitors can actually see “chestnuts roasting on an open fire" and hear why they were a favored treat in early New England. They can also learn the origins of candy canes, mistletoe, fruitcake and how poinsettias were introduced to this country.

The annual Gingerbread House Contest is one of the most popular events at Christmas by Candlelight, and visitors can vote for their favorites among dozens of hand-crafted entries.
Guests can also make Christmas keepsakes while learning about the history of Christmas cards, and craft a tin ornament while finding out the history of Christmas tree decorations. Visitors of all ages are invited to tell Santa Claus what is on their holiday wish list.

Live performances include Victorian carolers, Punch and Judy puppet shows, five different holiday-themed readings, including ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and nativity stories, and Bob Olson’s Holiday Magic show. A model train display returns this year, and other Christmas by Candlelight exhibits include an extensive nativity set with hundreds of pieces and a miniature New England village.

Musical performers include a wide range of professional, student, and community musicians, including Full Gael Celtic Christmas, Worcester Men of Song, Quintebrass, Boston Jazz Voices, Geoff and Talia Brown Acoustic Christmas, Broadmoor Chamber Singers, Calliope Young at Heart Singers, the Quaboag Choral Society, and the Old Sturbridge Village Singers. Three different handbell choirs will be featured: the Merrimack Valley Ringers, Elm Street Handbells, and the Tantasqua Faculty Handbell Choir. Student musicians from Worcester State University and a number of area high schools will also perform. A current schedule is listed below, but for the most up to date information, go to www.osv.org.

In order to focus on the evening holiday events, Old Sturbridge Village will be closed during the day from November 26 – December 25. The Village will be open for Christmas by Candlelight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 4:00 – 9:00 pm. Dec. 7-9; Dec.14-16, and Dec. 21-23. The Village will return to a daytime schedule for its popular school vacation week activities Dec. 26, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in early New England from 1790 – 1840. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., OSV is open year-round, but days and hours vary seasonally. For details, visit www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.

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Did You Know?

  • Most early New Englanders did not celebrate Christmas. They saw Christmas celebrations as dangerous foreign (pagan) perversions of pure Christianity and an excuse for sinful behavior.
  • The old folk tale of Hansel and Gretel, made famous by the brothers Grimm, inspired many Germans in the early 1800s to create model witches' houses from hard gingerbread. Building fanciful gingerbread houses at Christmastime spread to America by the late 1800s.
  • The legend of Santa has complex origins, blending diverse tales of magical gift givers with Christian beliefs. Dutch settlers in 17th-century New Amsterdam (New York) brought with them the legend of Saint Nicholas (Sinter Klaus), a 4th-century Christian saint from Turkey known for his generosity to children.
  • Yule logs began as a pagan reminder of the light and warmth of the sun on cold mid-winter nights. The word "Yule" is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word "hweol," which means "wheel" - a pagan symbol of the sun. The burning of a Yule log originated with the Druids, The modern practice of decorating trees and buildings with flashing electric lights seems to be a logical extension of the lighting of candles and bonfires at Christmas time.
  • Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world.
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