Category Archives: Holiday

Take a Step Back in Time this Holiday Season

Terry w Triunial jpegI am addicted to technology, especially my phone – I will never go anywhere without it. This weekend, I took a step back to a time where there were no phones, televisions or even cars. The Magic Lantern Show, run by the Amish Experience, at Plain and Fancy Farm, let me escape from modern times and enjoy entertainment of the past.

Contrary to the name, a magic lantern is not what you would expect. This lantern is a brass lantern with three lenses to project hand painted illustrations on a projection screen. The magic lantern was developed in the 1850’s and was a precursor to movies. When first developed, the lantern used a candle to project and later, kerosene light.

The theatre is completely transformed to feel as though you are sitting in a barn. Before the show began, the showman, who was the host and storyteller, made sure the entire audience was in the Christmas spirit with a game of Christmas trivia. After we were in the holiday spirit, our showman began the show which consisted of classic Christmas stories, such as a Christmas Carol. My favorite part was the new Christmas stories, including a story about a giant snowball causing havoc on a town! All of the stories were narrated by the showman and accompanied by handmade illustrations and music.

The show lasted approximately an hour. During that time, I completely forgot about my phone and became immersed in a time less complicated. After the show I went to the local town, Bird-in-Hand, for homemade Amish foods and handcrafted goods. This show was a great way to experience a different form of entertainment and get into the Christmas spirit. The magic lantern show will definitely be a new holiday tradition!

Spend Your Thanksgiving Break in Lancaster

In an area that is filled with a tight-knit community of locals and business owners, Lancaster during the holidays lights up with excitement and warmth. It’s the truth, when residents are happy they radiate that happiness creating a magnetic draw to visitors. With this being said, explore Lancaster and feel the magic and energy through the streets and through these events!

When should you start getting into the holiday spirit? The day right after Thanksgiving, of course! No, seriously, when the weather gets cold you must find a way to stay warm with spirit!

On November 27, break your norm of Black Friday Shopping (who wants to wait in all the lines anyways?) Relax, enjoy your time off and go on a family outing! At 6:30 p.m., bundle up and join us at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting and Tuba Christmas. Want a traditional way to view the holiday window displays? Hop on a Horse Drawn Wagon Ride from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.

On November 28, this is where the new norm is put into place. Small Business Saturday! All over Lancaster, business owners open their doors to help you find unique, memorable presents for everyone on your shopping list. When shopping local, you essentially build relationships with the shop owners, so it makes future interactions more personable and helpful. The beauty of shopping local is you have a VERY slim chance of purchasing the same item for someone that they might already have. Give gifts that are genuine and one of a kind!

On November 29, have your eyes light up gazing at Christmas displays. Find the hidden Santa’s on the layout at Choo Choo Barn from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Walk through a Dutch Winter Wonderland from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. Warm up at the National Christmas Center and explore the 14 exhibits they have to offer.

Spend time this Thanksgiving breaking your norm and checking out the unique and festive events Lancaster has to offer.

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The author of this post, Julie Press, is currently the Marketing Intern at Discover Lancaster. She encompasses the Lancaster brand. Growing up in a farm house in Adamstown, she identifies with the rustic, homegrown feel Lancaster brings. Now relocated only minutes away from Lancaster City, she feels a strong connection to the City’s creativity, culture, and innovation. Julie studies Public Relations at Millersville University.

Unexpected Surprise: Lancaster Symphony Orchestra

Lancaster County is known worldwide for the Amish culture. I’ll be honest, when I was moving here for college from Center City Philadelphia, that’s about all that I knew about Lancaster – the Amish, Dutch Wonderland, and Shady Maple. While all of those are true, and are all great to experience, I’ve come to love all of the unexpected surprises that Lancaster has to offer.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this past Saturday evening was the first time that I experienced this particular surprise, but there, I’ve said it. I was invited to see Hollywood Heroes and Villains performed by the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra at the Winter Center for Performing Arts at Millersville University. Let me tell you – the performance was amazing, and our orchestra rivals the only other one I’ve seen live, the Philadelphia Orchestra. The symphony typically offers its classical music events, but this was the start of a new popular music series, POPS.

In this particular show, they performed both the dark side and the bright side of new and old favorite “hero vs. villain” stories like Batman, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Frozen, and Star Wars. The conductor, Stephen Gunzenhauser, set a fun tone for the evening by walking out wearing a batman mask to conduct the first series of songs. Their tech team put together a video that was projected above the orchestra that allowed us to have an experience like you would have had back in the day when a pianist would accompany your movie in the theatre. The best part about this is that you’re overwhelmed by the passion of the orchestra. The sounds that you hear live all around you paired with the visuals seem to swallow you up.

I would highly recommend going to see the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra perform, whether you’re into classical music or not. If you are, you can pretty much see anything this season; if you aren’t, you might want to wet your feet with their POPS series.

Made by hand (and passion)

Eldreth Pottery was started over 30 years ago in a dank cellar by Dave Eldreth, who at the time, was a full-time teacher trying to supplement income to support newly born twin daughters.

Without much money, he was motivated to make things work. His first potter’s wheel was an improvised conversion of a washing machine. His first pottery kiln was borrowed. He dug his own clay from a local Southern Lancaster County quarry. With many years and many fortunate twists along the way, Eldreth’s determination, ambition, and creativity drove his company’s growth.

When it was time to expand into a larger space, he went to see the local banker, who as luck would have it, just started collecting Eldreth’s pottery. The banker believed in the vision, and put money behind the ideas.

Eldreth recounted a few other serendipitous stories including the time he hired a mason to build a salt-kiln. The mason abruptly quit because he didn’t want to do that kind of work. Devastated, Eldreth thought his plans to set up a pottery factory were doomed from the start. Fortunately, his neighbor turned out to be a distinguished engineer who built the kiln, and then wouldn’t accept payment for his work other than “the first four pots that come out of the kiln.”

Now with about 35 talented artists and three locations, Eldreth Pottery is a renowned name in the pottery business showcasing creativity in salt glaze, redware, and stoneware. They’re known for many different items and varying styles sure to fit everybody’s tastes. Their most popular pottery are painted birdhouses, and their annual limited edition carved Santas.

Every piece is made by hand in Lancaster County. All of the pottery is one-of-a-kind as every single item gets hand-painted.

The showroom and factory in Oxford at 902 Hart Road is stocked to the brims with high quality ceramics. You can also get a tour of that factory generally anytime between 10:00-3:00 PM from Monday to Friday. Watch the pots being made or glazed by the studio artists. Explore the studio space, which includes old clay molds, kiln room, potter’s wheels, etc.

If you’re visiting the Oxford location in early May, don’t miss their annual Open House, which includes demonstrations, kids’ pottery wheel activities, pig roast, and more.

Eldreth Pottery also has a showroom in Strasburg at 246 N Decatur Street. If you’re looking for a good time of year to visit there, go on the second weekend of November to catch their annual Holiday Open House to see all of the new limited edition Santa creations.

Either way, seek them out. Reconnect with craft that’s locally made by hand. Eldreth’s passion is contagious, and I think you’ll find his pots as inspiring as his story.

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Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas!

They observe Christmas as a sacred holiday with simplicity and tradition. While some are influenced by the traditions of their English friends, many do not get caught up in the modern-day commercialism as we experience it. Most don’t include Santa Claus, electric lights, flashy tinsel, fancy wrapping paper, or Christmas trees. Rather, they focus on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.

Because Christmas is so important in the Amish community, it is celebrated for two days. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and read Scripture; on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends with festive gatherings, great feasts, and gift-giving.

Because the Pennsylvania Amish have been greatly influenced by German Christmas traditions, they often decorate by lighting candles and hanging stars, angels, greenery, and holiday cards. Most families exchange gifts and usually pick names out of a hat so each person receives one gift each year. Gifts are not always of the old-fashioned handmade variety. Sometimes they give gifts such as Barbie dolls (dressed Amish), board games, and toy tractors. In addition, homemade cookies, candy, and stamped Christmas cards are very popular. Often Amish owned stores sell these homemade items.

At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Amish community enjoys watching the children sing, read poems, and perform Christmas plays.

And, when it happens to snow, the children enjoy playing outside. They race down the hills on their sleds, ice skate, play ice hockey, and of course, have snowball fights and snowman building competitions.

While we, the English, enjoy our traditions at Christmas, the Amish, too, will be enjoying their holiday traditions, but always with Jesus at the center of their celebration.

To learn more about how the Amish celebrate Christmas, listen to Ada’s story.

Get in the holiday spirit with American Music Theatre

The first time I visited American Music Theatre (AMT), it was love at first sight. I was so impressed with the gorgeous lobby, the elegant bathrooms (yes, the bathrooms are really elegant), and the staff in tuxedos, I told myself I had to work there. Five months later, I was fortunate enough to land a position as a member of their management team.

I had the privilege of working at this world-class theater for over two years, during which time I discovered AMT is much more than just a “pretty face.” In addition to the beauty and comfort of this state-of-the-art, 1600-seat theater, the shows they produce are of unparalleled quality. Besides hosting celebrity concerts such as Frankie Valli, Vince Gill, Foreigner, and more, they also write, choreograph and produce their own Original Shows, the most popular of which is the annual Christmas Show.

The 2013 show theme was “The First Noel.” While every year the show has a different storyline, they all have several things in common: top-calibre vocalists and musicians, talented dancers, and beautiful set designs and costumes. The show features both secular and sacred music, and is ideal for guests of all ages, from families with young children to seniors.

This year’s show did not disappoint and had the perfect blend of singing, dancing, and light-hearted moments. The vocals were fantastic, as was the AMT Orchestra. The set resembled a perfect family fireside, and everything from the lobby to the theater was decked out in lively red & green seasonal decor.

AMT’s annual Christmas Show rivals any holiday show you’ll find in a major market. They hire outstanding talent from all of the country (sometimes all over the world), and the scenery, lighting and costumes are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Attending this production is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and spend a quality afternoon or evening with your family or significant other. There are so many restaurants nearby that it’s easy to make a night of it and eat out before you attend. But just in case you don’t have time, AMT does have a fully-stocked snack bar (as well as a gift shop with a wide variety of merchandise for last-minute holiday shopping).

Visit www.amtshows.com for more information on upcoming shows.

Print your free PA Dutch Valentine

I’m always looking for a way to send Valentines Day cards with my son that don’t include candy, because I feel slightly guilty giving chocolate away to small children. I recently saw something that made me recall my days of elementary school, and when we used to play M.A.S.H. and make fortune tellers (also known as “cootie catchers”). Then I thought, why not make one of these into a valentine?

I’ve decided to share my PA Dutch Valentine Printable with you, along with step-by-step instructions, in case you weren’t privy to (or just can’t recall how to) making these paper games. Instead of getting a “fortune” when you choose your final number, you get a PA Dutch Saying about love/friendship!

Here’s how to make yours:

First, print out the PDF, and use either a paper trimmer, or scissors to cut on the dotted line (this is designed to be 8.5″ x 8.5″).

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Next, fold it in half both ways, making a good crease (photo below). When you unfold the second time, your creases will make a cross or an ‘x’ on the paper.

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Put the paper on the table printed side down, and fold each corner in to meet the middle.

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Then flip the paper over so that the PA Dutch icons and numbers are facing the table, and fold each corner again into the middle (photo below). When you are finished, all your numbers will be on one side, and the PA Dutch icons will be on the other side. Your fortune teller will be in a perfect square.

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Next, flip your paper and fold it both ways to make nice creases.

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Finally, slide your fingers into the fortune teller as shown in the first photo below, one thumb and index finger under each PA Dutch icon. Fluff the sides up until it looks like the second photo below.

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Last, enjoy the game! Instructions on how to play below!

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If you’re not quite sure on the instructions to play, you can follow this simple method of the game!

Player A: Asks “choose a PA Dutch icon.” (Holding the game closed so that Player B only sees the four icons)
Player B: Chooses one of the four icons. (for example, Buggy)

Player A: Spell out “Buggy,” holding the game with your thumb & index fingers of each hand, alternate pinching on “B,” pulling on “U,” pinching on “G,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose a number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 3)

Player A: Count to “3” while pinching on “1” and pulling on “2,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose another number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 5)

Player A: Open the flap with the number 5 on it, and read the PA Dutch Saying under the flap to reveal Player B’s valentine!

*If you want to extend the game, you can repeat the middle step a few times (choosing three numbers before opening the flap).

 

Dutch WINTER Wonderland

My wife and I always set aside an evening during the holidays to take the boys over to Dutch Winter Wonderland.  Dutch Wonderland is such a special place for young children during the summer it’s easy to overlook they have special hours during the fall for Happy Hauntings, and then again over the holidays as well.

The main attraction for us is always the Royal Light Show.  DW literally has tens of thousands of lights strung up throughout the hub of the park all synched to a stirring holiday soundtrack.  Make sure to take the sky ride, or take a drive with the antique cars to either get a birdseye view of the show, or drive right through the heart of it.

Of course, many of our favorite rides are open in addition to the holiday specific attractions.  My 2-year-old is a fan of Duke’s Dozers (miniature bulldozers), the Off-Road Rally (nice and tame Monster Trucks!), and of course taking a tour of the light be-decked park on their miniature train, the Wonderland Special!  The older boys (6 and 9 respectively) ride the Twister, hit up the bumper cars, and take a swing on the Space Shuttle (a space-themed Viking ship type ride).

If you have any budding young female royalty in your family, you might want to check out Storytime with the Princess.

With so much to see and do and at a great price, Dutch Winter Wonderland is another budding holiday tradition for the Evans family right here in Lancaster County.

Ready, set, go – the joy of Easter egg hunting

Looking at the numerous options for our three boys ( Ages 1, 5, and 8 ) to hunt Easter Eggs in the area, we decided to head out to Strasburg to Village Greens Miniature Golf. The folks over at Village Greens do such a great job maintaining their grounds, especially the gold course with its amazing landscaping in the summer time, we were sure they would bring that kind of care and attention to the Easter Egg hunt.

We weren’t disappointed. Besides having three separate hunts for three different age groups (fitting our sons’ ages perfectly) with lots of prizes, they had a bunch of different activities for the kids to participate in while they were waiting for the hunts to start. The boys got to visit with the Easter Bunny, pet a real bunny and chick, get their faces painted, chalk the sidewalks, putt for free game, and fish for prizes in a small duck pond.

You could really tell the employees and volunteers at the hunt were truly enjoying themselves and were excited to see how excited and happy the children were. It’s fun local events like this that are run by small-businesses that truly enhance the fabric of our community in Lancaster County, and make it a special place to live and visit.

Village Greens has always been one of our favorite place to go miniature golfing (ever since my wife and I started dating, in fact), and their annual Easter Egg hunt has only solidified that position in our hearts. The boys had a great time, and we’ll be sure to come back soon to hit the links.

Some Amish neighbors enjoying the spoils of the egg hunt.

Mom introducing Emerson to the Easter Bunny

The hunt is on!

 

Christmas cookie tips from Lancaster

Baking cookies is something that I grew up doing around Christmas time – it’s still one of my favorite things to do! As a child, I’m sure my mother practiced lots of patience with us, but my very favorite kind of cookie to make was, of course, sugar cookies. We could decorate them. When I was little, we would just sprinkle the jimmies (or sprinkles, as some people call them) all over the cookie. As I got a little older, I started taking my time with the jimmies, and putting patterns on the cookies.

Here are my top five tips for baking cookies:

1. Get to know your oven. My oven is a hot one, if the recipe calls for me to set the oven on 350 degrees, I know that I should just set it on 325, otherwise it will burn. If you’re not sure about yours, invest in an oven thermometer, you can get one for about 5 or 10 bucks.

The Gingerbread Man2. Use good cookie sheets. If you just have thin ones, the cookies are more likely to burn on the bottom, but to help, you can add a layer of wax paper or tin foil. Also, some of the non-stick pans that are dark get hotter, and also can burn the bottoms of the cookies faster, so it’s best to use a good silver shiny one.

3. Wax paper is your friend. When rolling the dough for cut out cookies, instead of using flour, and more flour, and MORE flour to keep it from sticking to the table and to your rolling pin, put the dough between wax paper and roll it out. It won’t stick, and your dough won’t be as tough from working it so much!

4. Use non-traditional decorations! We all know that chocolate makes everything better, so drizzle some melted chocolate on cookies, mix white & dark chocolate drizzles together. You can also use some icing if you’d like, or you can paint the cookies before you bake them by mixing a few drops of food coloring with an egg yolk. This will give them a glazed look and tint them to be that color!

Springerle5. If you’re not a cooking baking kind of gal or guy, there are some really great places to buy all types of cookies. Head to the Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop or Willow Valley Bakery for some fresh homemade goodies, for gourmet desserts, you can hit up La Dolce Vita Courthouse Bakery in Downtown  Lancaster – they carry fresh baked Italian desserts. For a more traditional German cookie, head to the Springerle House Cookie & Tea Cafe, where they specialize in the traditional German “picture cookies,” and they’ve also made some into ornaments!

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