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JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — An exhibit at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown is pairing history and the holidays together, as local historians explore Christmas traditions from around the world.
“We have, as you see behind me, our German Weihnachtsmann. We have a few displays around that are Christmas around the world. We have the Swedish room, some of their customs. We have some things in the dining room, the various customs. Of course we have our drawing room is decorated. We have our upside down Christmas tree which is a favorite of everybody,” says Jane Babinsky, Fenton History Center Execute Director.
This year, the Fenton History Center is featuring Christmas cultures from around the world by hosting Italian and German displays, which is one of the first depictions of a “Santa Claus” figure from the early 1800s.
“This is what Santa Claus would look like in Germany. He was called the Weihnachtsmann and Germany also was the country where they first started having Christmas trees. Of course that was Queen Victoria in England that popularized it, but the idea of bringing a tree inside the home originated in Germany and Saint Nicholas was the one who would bring the tree,” explains Babinsky.
Before gift giving became a popularized tradition, Executive Director Jane Babinsky explains that the holiday was more about decorating with homemade items, such as cookies, corn husk dolls, and pieces of rags.
“I would like to invite everybody to our Christmas open house on Saturday, December 17. We will be open from 10 to 4, but from 2 to 4 we will have Santa Claus and one of his elves here handing out goodies. And we will also have a pianist here leading us in an old fashioned singalong,” says Babinsky.
Admission for the Christmas Open House is $10 dollars for adults and free for members and those under 18.
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