PENNSBURG PA – A magical blend of old-world tradition and holiday cheer awaits Dec. 1-3 (2023; Friday through Sunday) at five Montgomery County historic sites and museums. Collectively they’ll celebrate a Pennsylvania German Christmas with “some new and special treats,” and are encouraging the public to join them.
The seasonal collaboration involves:
The Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Rd., Harleysville, open Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
The Peter Wentz Farmstead, 2030 Shearer Rd., Worcester, open Dec. 2 from 3-8 p.m.;
Historic Trappe, 301 Main St., Trappe, open Dec. 2 from 3-9 p.m., and Dec. 3 from noon to 4 p.m.;
The Goschenhoppen Historians, 116 Gravel Pike, Green Lane, open Dec. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Dec. 3 from noon to 4 p.m.; and
The Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, 105 Seminary St., Pennsburg, also open Dec. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Dec. 3 from noon to 4 p.m.
Visiting each site is likely to delight the senses, and instill a sense of wonder too.
Greet personalities of the holidays
The weekend provides a time to meet some historically interesting characters at two sites.
At the Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester, the Belsnickel – a fur-clad Pennsylvania German counterpart to Santa – certainly may look intimidating. However, his hosts said they “promise he’s friendly,” and reported children “brave enough to speak to him may even get a treat!”
While touring the Muhlenberg House in Trappe by candlelight, visitors can chat with Pastor Muhlenberg in his office, and then step into the dining room where a festive meal awaits.
Enjoy festive sounds of the season
Sounds of the season, in the form of both choral voices and instrumental performances, will soothe visitors’ ears at two additional sites.
On Dec. 2 at the Mennonite Heritage Center, local musicians Ryan Schlotterback (on marimba) and Lorene Derstine (organ), will entertain visitors with Christmas music. Then, also on Dec. 2 starting at 2 p.m. in the Schwenkfelder Heritage Center, the Red Hill Band will perform holiday tunes.
Students of Harmony Corner Music, under the direction of Cynthia Hector, lift their voices in song Dec. 3 beginning at 1:30 p.m., also at the Schwenkfelder.
See, and shop for, inspiring hand-crafted items
Guests at the five Pennsylvania German Christmas locations will see at each a variety of potential gifts and decorations, from vintage to modern. Many will be available for purchase at each stop during the event’s three-day run.
At the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Bill Oosterman will showcase colonial greens to decorate for the holidays.
At the Dewees Tavern of Historic Trappe, marvel at a tiny wonderland of vintage German woodcarvings displayed throughout its museum galleries. While there, stock up on New Erzgebirge woodcarvings imported from Germany, along with other hand-made Christmas decorations.
While enjoying the aroma of roasting peanuts and chestnuts at the Goschenhoppen Historians, visit its Country Store and Folklife museums. They will be traditionally decorated for the season, and include a miniature train village and whimsical trees. The historians also will offer tables of fresh greens for sale.
The Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center in Pennsburg will display two Christmas putzes, or miniature holiday gardens. It also will offer children ages 4–12 a take-home Christmas tree kit containing genuine LEGO® pieces.
For more information, see the Pennsylvania German Christmas website.