At Smithsonian: holiday traditions of many cultures


December 22, 1991|By Dorothy Fleetwood

Now is the time to catch up on some of the great holiday events that passed you by in the rush to Christmas. In Washington you'll find activities for all ages. One for children is the Holiday Celebration at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History from Thursday through Dec. 31.

Local musicians, storytellers, craftspeople and cooks will demonstrate the ways we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Hanukkah will be observed by the telling of folk tales, performances by groups of Jewish musicians and through the preparation of "rugelach," a traditional Jewish pastry. A daily program of music and storytelling celebrates the African-American tradition of Kwanzaa. And there will be music from Eastern Europe, Hawaii, Finland, Spain, Italy, the Caribbean, England, Ireland and Latin America. Chefs will prepare festive holiday foods from different cultures and you'll // see a demonstration of Colombian "nacimiento" (Christmas creche figures made out of clay) and a maker of wooden toys. There will also be demonstrations of Jewish and German paper cuts, Ukrainian ornaments and Swedish paper hearts.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the museum is on Constitution Avenue Northwest between 12th and 14th streets. Admission is free. Call (202) 357-2700.

White House Candlelight Tours are scheduled Thursday to Saturday evenings from 6 to 8. You can visit the beautifully

decorated main state rooms of the White House while local choirs and bell ringers perform Christmas music. Admission is by free ticket with lines forming on East Executive Avenue. Call (202) 456-2200.

The 14th annual Festival of Lights, Trees and Music continues through Jan. 5 at the Washington Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints in Kensington.

Temple grounds are lit by thousands of lights and inside the Visitors Center is an exhibition of nine miniature nativity scenes on loan from different countries along with the annual display of 14 trees decorated in biblical themes. Programs of Christmas music are presented at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 each evening and a live nativity scene can be seen in the temple parking lot between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. through Dec. 30. Admission is free.

Take exit 33A off the Capital Beltway toward Kensington and turn right onto Beach Drive and left on Stoneybrook Drive. For information, call (301) 587-0144.

Frederick Candlelight Tour

Another popular event is the Candlelight Church Tour in Frederick on the day after Christmas from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The First Baptist Church, constructed in 1922, is an addition to this year's self-guided tour of 11 churches and one synagogue. You can also visit St. John's Catholic Church, the oldest consecrated Catholic church in the nation; All Saints Episcopal Church, listed among the famous churches in America; Frederick Presbyterian Church, which served as a hospital during the Civil War; and Beth Sholom, a 1917 synagogue.

Many of the churches will offer musical presentations, and at Beth Sholom Synagogue there will be a presentation on the synagogue and Judaism.

Admission is free. Tour brochures and maps are available that evening at four hospitality centers: Evangelical Lutheran Church, E. Church St.; Calvary United Methodist Church, 133 W. Second St.; Beth Sholom Synagogue, 20 W. Second St.; and First Baptist Church, 217 Dill Ave. Complimentary hot beverages will be served at each of the centers.

The Historical Society of Frederick County, 24 E. Church St., will also hold a candlelight tour that evening from 4 to 9. Decorations and refreshments in this Federal period town house reflect German and English Christmas traditions. Admission is $1.

For information about either tour, call (301) 663-8687.

Ephrata Cloister tours

Christmas Candlelight Tours will be held Friday through next Sunday at Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pa. First-person interpretive tours are conducted by student historians using scripts based on cloister life of the 18th century. This year's tour will focus on the cloister's founder, Conrad Beissel, whose 300th birthday is being observed this year. Two of the brothers will report on conditions in the cloister at that time and of Beissel's accomplishments. The presentation allows visitors to take part in the scenarios.

Tours are offered on the half hour and last about an hour. Hot chocolate and cookies are served following the tour.

Hours are 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for ages 6 to 17. Reservations are necessary. The cloister is at the junction of U.S. 322 and Route 272 in Ephrata. For information, call (717) 733-6600.

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