Relive a Civil War Christmas from 1863

Nov 29th, 2011Press Release from Lehigh County Historical Society


Relive a Civil War Christmas from 1863

Re-created at Historic Pennsylvania German Farm

An Event for Visitors of Every Age

Allentown, Pennsylvania Visitors of all ages can experience a Civil War Christmas Eve from 1863 with a Pennsylvania German family.  The event takes place at the historic 1756 Pennsylvania German Troxell-Steckel Farm Museum in Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania.  Special hour-long holiday tours will take place Saturday December 3rd starting at 12:00 noon, with the last tour starting at 5:15 p.m.  The announcement was made by Joseph Garrera, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, the organization hosting the event.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for children and adults to experience Christmas before it became a shopping frenzy,” said Garrera.  “Our goal is to let the public relive early Pennsylvania German Christmas customs, many of which are now modern holiday traditions.”  Museum curators will re-create a Christmas Eve in the home of a Pennsylvania German farmer, who will greet visitors as he explains why Christmas is important to his entire family and how much they miss family members away at war.  In another room, the family’s teenage daughter will compare some of the earliest images of Santa Claus created by the famous illustrator Thomas Nast with the traditional Pennsylvania German Belsnickel, also known as Nicholas in furs.  Santa Claus and the Belsnickel will both be present to give treats to all visitors.  Visitors will also meet the hired man as he decorates the family Christmas tree of 1863.  In the same scene, a soldier home on leave will reminisce about Christmases at the front. Visitors will learn how families decorated the earliest Christmas trees in America with simple food items that were readily available.  “We developed this event so visitors can celebrate the historic role of Christmas even during the Civil War,” said Garrera.

Holiday tours of the historic Troxell-Steckel Farm will take place Saturday December 3rd starting at 12:00 noon, with the last tour beginning at 5:15 p.m.  Tours will depart every 15 minutes from the farmstead’s historic barn, where visitors can enjoy cookies and caroling while waiting for their tour.  Tickets will be available in the barn and are FREE to Lehigh County Historical Society members; non-members pay only $6 for adults, $3 for non-member children, children under 5 FREE.  The historic Troxell-Steckel Farm Museum is located at 4229 Reliance Street in the Egypt section of Whitehall Township.  For more information, contact Joseph Garrera, Executive Director, at 484-553-2592 (cell) any time of day or at 610-435-1074. Visit or Facebook.

The Troxell-Steckel Farm Museum is owned by the Lehigh County Historical Society, a teaching institution that attracts a diverse audience.  Its collections of historical Americana, located primarily at its headquarters, the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, 432 W. Walnut Street in Allentown, include over 35,000 three-dimensional objects, 3 million documents and more than 75,000 vintage photographs.


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Photo Captions:

Rolling dough.jpg:  Pennsylvania German reenactor rolls out cookie dough.

Grandma.jpg:  Pennsylvania German reenactor knits homemade holiday gifts as she tells stories of Christmas past.

Troxell-Steckel.jpg:  A Civil War Pennsylvania German Christmas from 1863 will be re-created at the historic Troxell-Steckel Farmhouse, built in 1756 in Whitehall Township

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