The Belsnickel’s back!

By on December 7, 2016

Landis Valley posts holiday schedule

It’s easy to make education fun and festive during an event focused on Pennsylvania German Christmas traditions. They contributed so much to the American Christmas ritual that many of the decorations, activities and demonstrations planned for the Country Christmas Village event at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum will be very familiar to visitors. The event will take place on Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and on Dec. 4, from noon to 4 p.m.

“This year, we’ve concentrated the event into one weekend and filled it with interactive fun,” said Cindy Kirby-Reedy, events coordinator at the museum.

In the Yellow Barn, visitors will be entertained on Saturday by hand bell ringer Ron Bellamy and on Sunday by musician Robert Mouland. Bellamy will perform throughout the day and will give visitors the opportunity to play the bells with him. Mouland’s performance will also last through the day and will feature dancing wood figures and hurdy-gurdy music. Hot cider and popcorn will be available for purchase there.

Children are invited both days to the schoolhouse to participate in activities and a lesson utilizing the theme, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” There, they will also compose letters to Santa that they can then send to him from the Landis Valley Post Office, located in the rear of the Country Store. With parents’ written permission, museum staff will process the letters and send them to North Pole, Alaska, from whence the children will receive a reply. The program will cost $1 to cover postage and is in addition to the regular admission charge.

On both days, visitors can see cookies with names like “springerle,” “pfeffernüsse,” and “leckerli” baked en-masse in the Tavern; tour buildings decorated with greens, kugel ornaments, paper creations, and miniature villages known as putzes; and — weather permitting — take wagon rides. They can also talk to Civil War re-enactors encamped in the Millstone Grove.

Making an appearance, as always, is the Belsnickel, the fur-clad wanderer who promises switches for naughty behavior and treats for those that are good. A Pennsylvania German creation, his name means “Nicholas in furs” and stems from the German legends surrounding benevolent St. Nicholas, the Catholic patron saint of children, who would one day morph into the jolly Santa Claus of today.

Admission to the event is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for youth ages 3 to 11. Landis Valley Associates members and children ages two and younger are free. All proceeds benefit the museum.

The museum will host its annual Holiday Bonfire on Friday, Dec. 16, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. This evening of free entertainment will feature a bonfire, Christmas carols performed by the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir, and horse-drawn wagon rides, as well as complementary cookies and hot cider in the Yellow Barn. In lieu of admission, visitors are asked to bring canned good donations for the Lancaster Food Bank, which will be collected at the museum entrance.

More information on Country Christmas Village, as well as other upcoming events, can be found on the museum’s website, landisvalleymuseum.org.

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