Tag Archives: Christmas

Recipes to Inspire Your Holiday Baking

It’s the holiday season, and whether you’re baking cookies for a cookie swap or for your family to enjoy, we’re sharing some Amish and Mennonite-inspired cookie recipes to add to your recipe box.

From the seasonal favorite, sand tarts, to the unique Amish cookies, we hope that you’ll find a tasty treat or even a new Christmas tradition!

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Recipes from: Good, Phyllis Pellman, and Rachel T. Pellman. From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. Intercourse, PA: Good, 1984. Print.

Ten Things to Do in November in Lancaster

November embraces fall fun in Lancaster, but also marks to beginning of the holiday celebration. Whether you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit or are still holding on to the excitement of fall, there are plenty of events for you this month in Lancaster!

Gifts Galore:

Start your holiday shopping or find the perfect memento of your visit.

If pottery is what you please, Eldreth Pottery’s 29th Annual Christmas Open House, November 11 through 13, is the event for you. Featuring a great selection of handmade pottery and unique items, this is a wonderful opportunity to find gifts for loved ones or even an addition to your own home décor.

The Artisan Fair at Spooky Nook Sports builds on the tradition of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman, and features crafts and fine art from 80 local and national fine artists and craftspeople. November 12 and 13, the artists gather under one roof to display functional pottery, handmade jewelry, designer clothing, glass art, and more!

For one-of-a-kind Christmas items from local artists and craftspeople, be sure to visit Landis Valley Museum Store’s Holiday Open House on November 19 and 20. Browse items including Belsnickels, ornaments, Pennsylvania German paper stars, books, and more! Visitors can also learn how to make paper stars or punch a tin ornament.

Give Thanks:

Before sitting down to a delicious and filling Thanksgiving meal, take a spin around the county on a scooter or scoot coupe with Strasburg Scooters. Their Thanksgiving Day Tour takes place at 9:00 AM, and is a great way to experience the country side before a hearty family supper.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family over a delicious meal in Lititz. At the General Sutter Inn, guests can enjoy either the Thanksgiving Buffet or Ala Carte menu featuring turkey, beef and seafood in Inn’s elegant dining room. Call ahead to guarantee your place at the table.

Enjoy a comforting meal with family without the hassle and dirty dishes. Lancaster DoubleTree’s Thanksgiving Feast features carved beef and ham, turkey, seafood, traditional sides, and scrumptious desserts. Reservations are required, so be sure to call ahead!

A Dash of Holiday Spirit:

The holiday season is right around the corner, and many theaters begin their winter-themed shows this month. From musicals to heartwarming holiday cheer, you’re sure to leave the theater humming a tune and ready for snow.

American Music Theatre presents The 2016 Christmas Show: Winter Wonderland, November 7 through December 31, for a feel-good holiday event that celebrates music, magic, and the meaning of Christmas.

A hilarious look at family tradition, holiday expectations, and the real meaning of Christmas, Our Christmas Dinner shines on the Bird-in-Hand Stage from November 11 to December 31.

Holly Jolly Christmas lights up the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre stage, November 17 through December 31, featuring dancing, holiday favorites, and a visit from the big guy in red!

Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse presents Green Holly & Gray Potatoes, a Christmas comedy filled with family antics, now through December 28.

So whether you’re enjoying the final moments and events of fall or getting in the holiday spirit, there’s plenty to do in Lancaster. For a complete list of events, visit our complete online events calendar.

Don’t miss Santa’s Paradise Express

I took my daughter and one of her friends to the Strasburg Rail Road for Santa’s Paradise Express. The kiddos, both 4-years old, were very excited about riding the train, but even more excited about seeing Santa himself. We boarded the train and waited about 5 minutes before the train whistle blew and we slowly took off. It wasn’t long before Santa and two of his helpers came aboard our car. It was a joy to see all the children’s eye light up. Santa greeted each child, posted for a seasonal iconic photo, and gave each an old-fashioned train which doubled as a pencil sharpener. After Santa, two tuba players made their way through our car playing happy holiday tunes, then a couple of carolers who insisted that we sing along with them in merriment.

While we had the opportunity to climb aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car, my kiddos wanted to warm up in the heated stationary Caboose while listing to a costumed character read Christmas classics. Afterward, the children made their way to Mrs. Claus who was at the station helping children finalize their letters to Santa.

This experience was wonderfully magical and fun. There’s no way that one can leave this place without a fond memory.

There’s only two days left to ride this train – December 20 and 21. Don’t miss out! Click here to learn more.

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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.

Christmas in Lancaster

My husband and I have an annual Black Friday tradition. Instead of shopping for gifts at crowded stores, we shop for the perfect Christmas tree at our favorite little tree farm. We love to enjoy Christmas decorations for as long as possible; so the day after Thanksgiving, the tree must go up, and all the decorations must come out.

This year we decided to start another tradition. Since our daughter is now a preschooler, we thought that having an activity-based Advent Calendar would be fun. As we thought through ideas, we knew that caroling, making cookies, watching classic Christmas movies, seeing Santa at Park City, reading about the birth of Jesus, and driving through neighborhoods to see Christmas lights were non-negotiable. We also wanted to include fun and unique adventures. After some brainstorming, we came up with some great ideas like going to see a Christmas show at the Fulton Theatre, taking a trip to the National Christmas Center, enjoying Christmas-themed rides and activities at Dutch Wonderland’s Winter Wonderland, ice-skating at the Lancaster Ice Rink, going for a ride on Santa’s Paradise Express at the Strasburg Rail Road, and strolling through the Country Christmas Village at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before we had more than 25 ideas. The hard part was narrowing down the list—there are so many fun Christmas events and activities to choose from.

While my husband and I enjoy all the buzz and excitement that the Christmas season brings, it’s most important to us as a family to create our own traditions and memories. Because of that, we love living in Lancaster County where Christmas feels warm, sentimental and genuine.

Whatever your plans are for this month, plan some time to slow down, reflect on your blessings, and spend time with family and friends. And, when you have a chance, come visit us. We look forward to having you!

Brighten your holiday shopping

From the flickering lanterns on the porch to the scents of pine and peppermint greeting you at the door, The Old Candle Barn is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.  It’s located in the town of Intercourse which makes it so easy to stop by while visiting some of the other great shops in the area like Kitchen Kettle Village, Zooks Fabrics, and Dutch Haven.

I visited on a Saturday and the atmosphere was festive inside with the signs of the season everywhere from Santas to stockings.  Though I had primarily come to look at their candles, I fell in love with the primitive and folk art displays set up in every possible corner of the shop.

In one section of the store, I searched through endless choices of home textiles – rugs, placemats, and other necessities of a well-dressed holiday home.  I was delighted with their selection of potpourri in many scents and sizes since that is an integral part of my holiday gift baskets.  It was so hard to choose which ones to include this year.

Then, tucked away in a corner, I found a line of lotions and soaps with scents so enticing I just had to try a few. The lotion was so beautifully silky and the light scent stuck with me for quite some time that I decided to get a little something for my own stocking. What a treat!

But on to the real reason for my visit, candles.

The Old Candle Barn carries nearly 500 different candle scents to try out so make sure your nose is ready and you have enough time to try them all!  They have scents like Christmas Essence, Banana Nut, Green Tea, Sugar Cookie, Roasted Chestnuts, Red McIntosh, Toasted Coconut, and Winter Wishes.

If you are only used to seeing votives and jar candles at other candle stores, then you will be enchanted with the large variety of candle shapes and sizes from small hand-dipped tapers to large candle blocks.  I was especially fond of the unusual lumpy candles that are so different from a plain barrel candle.

Once you choose your candles, then you can look for the perfect holders.  The selection of black iron holders is wonderful, but there are glass holders as well for a more modern look.

We have several family members with respiratory ailments, so our first choice in candles is always soy.  They are not easy to find in a wide variety of scents.  Thankfully, the Old Candle Barn stocks a full line of their scented candles in soy and palm oil versions for families like mine. They also offer unscented candles if you have people on your gift list who are unable to tolerate the scented ones.

I was surprised to find out that the Old Candle Barn offers many lighting options other than candles as well. You’ll want to check out the selection of Coleman and Dietz products.  With the increasing amount of severe weather in our area, I’m definitely interested in finding other lighting options for my home in times of emergency.  We have small children, so candles are not always the best option in our home.

I had such a great time shopping at the Old Candle Barn for gifts for my family.  Next time you are in Intercourse, Lancaster County, drop on in and try out a few new candle scents for yourself.  Just be sure to allow enough time to shop the entire store, you’ll be amazed at all you will find.

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.

Holidays at Landis Valley Museum with der Belsnickel

I think it is safe to assume that we all know who Santa Claus is. But have you ever heard of the Belsnickel? If you have, give yourself a pat on the back. If you haven’t, well, you’re not alone. The Belsnickel is a character from German folklore who comes around at Christmas time; but don’t compare him to St. Nick. Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will show you why as the Belsnickel comes to town as a part of their Country Christmas Village!

Come enjoy the Days of Belsnickel Dinner Tour. You will experience and learn nineteenth- and twentieth-century Pennsylvania Dutch Holiday traditions and folklore with things like open hearth cooking and holiday decorating. Enjoy a home-cooked meal in the historic 1856 Landis Valley House Hotel/Tavern and be entertained by a famous Christmas character, “der Belsnickel.”

Mark your calendars and make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to celebrate with Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum each year!

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