This time of year, it’s all about reliving traditions. So why not celebrate like they did in past centuries?
Hill House Holidays (first three weekends in December): On Summit Avenue in St. Paul sits the former home of railroad baron James J. Hill, where you can see a Gilded Age Christmas brought to life as costumed actors portraying the family’s servants prepare for the holidays using a script based off of letters and oral histories of the actual workers.
Victorian Christmas Stories (December 15): Actors will also be at the James J. Hill House to tell these stories, including works by Mark Twain, O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, and excerpts from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Victorian Christmas Carols (December 20-22): Taking place in the art gallery at the Hill House, costumed singers, a pianist and narrator will perform period songs.
Left: James J. Hill House, RIGHT: ALEXANDER RAMSEY HOUSE. photos courtesy of the Minnesota historical society
A Victorian Christmas (through December 8): Tour the home of our second governor, Alexander Ramsey, listen to music played on the family’s Steinway piano, and see their original ornaments and gifts.
A Swedish Christmas (December 12): Many of the Ramsey family’s servants were Swedish immigrants, which is why there they celebrate Christmas as such, learning about native customs, hearing stories, and tasting treats.
An Eventually Christmas: Holidays at the Mill (December 7, 8, 14 & 15): A different part of history is displayed at Mill City Museum where, on a Flour Tower elevator ride, “the ghost of mill city past” will guide you through a look at the 1920 Washburn Crosby holiday party, based off of real stories from the company’s employee newsletter.
Toy Making Workshop (December 7): Head to the Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River and pretend you’re a 19th-century elf by making toys to give out as gifts, including a ball-and-cup game, buzz saw, pick-up sticks or corn husk dolls.
Christmas on the Farm (December 14 & 15): Tour the Kelley Farm, along the way stopping inside the historic farmhouse, visiting livestock pens, taking a horse or oxen-driven bobsled or wagon ride, and learning about how farmers dealt with season 150 years ago.
For times, costs, and reservations, visit the Minnesota Historial Society’s events calendar.