It’s been only three weeks since Christmas 2012, but already it seems a lifetime ago. The rush of life moves forward and the joy and glow of the holidays can quickly fade. As I was seeking some facts for my post today (all about a monthly collection for gifts- come back the 20th for that) I came upon some lists of events in history for January 15th. I read about the opening of the British Museum (one of my absolute favorites) on this day in 1759. That got me on a quest to find out about any Christmas Museums. Yes, there are many: small, large, seasonal, parts of other museums. You name the type and you’ll likely find a display somewhere, but very few that are full-time, year-round exhibitions of Christmas. There’s the Christmas Story House in Ohio, the Santa Claus Museum in Indiana, the Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum in North Carolina, and the Hallmark Ornament Museum in Indiana. Incidentally that last one houses the only complete collection of every Hallmark Ornament produced since 1973! The one that stuck out as THE one for me was the National Christmas Center, located in Paradise, PA.
The National Christmas Center is one of the sights found on the Travel Channel’s list of the “Most Christmasy Places in America”. Joining this small town attraction on the list were Branson, MO, Las Vegas, the Mall of America, and FAO Schwartz- pretty big deal company! The Center is a family attraction and museum located just off Route 30 in Amish Country in south-central Pennsylvania. Their title includes the phrase “Experience the wonder of the world’s most beloved holiday”. It definitely seems like it lets you do just that. The Center is open to the public weekends in March and April and daily from May through December. Groups can tour the center in January and February. Adult admission is $12 with discount tickets available easily online. The center offers both a local and an online gift shop. There are 15 main galleries covering thousands of square feet and many smaller exhibits of a more personal size. The galleries focus on a particular aspect or historical aspect of Christmas. Yes, Virginia shares a recreation of the story around the famous letter. Santa’s workshop is recreated and you can see scenes from Christmas Around the World. There is a look into Santa History, Christmas Antiques, Tudor Towne, and Train Mountain. A popular draw is the gallery of 1950s Woolworth, showcasing the look and products of that time. My pick would be the life-size recreation of the First Christmas and the collection of hundreds of Nativity Scenes. One gallery has a 3/4 life-size nativity set carved from wood, nearly 100 years old. Take the virtual tour on the center’s website to see a glimpse of each gallery. It certainly seems like a great trip for any time of the year. Check out the review by Skye, a real-life mom of 5, on Real Mom Reviews for some thoughts on taking the kids, seems like a solid plan. Maybe this will make the list for our field trips in 2013!