A Look Back at Festive Traditions

WYOMING, Pa. -- One organization in Luzerne County is giving folks a different look at Christmas this year, one that hasn't been around for centuries.

Oversized Christmas lights and brightly colored presents can be found in front yards around Wyoming, but folks with the Luzerne County Historical Society say holiday spirit like this wasn't always on display.

“No, no, Christmas as we know it is a very recent phenomenon. Up until the turn of the century, that's the 1700s into the 1800s, we didn't even celebrate Christmas in America, the vast majority of individuals,” Mark Riccetti of the Luzerne County Historical Society said.

The holiday spirit is a little simpler at the Swetland House, a historic house on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming.

“You didn't really decorate until Christmas. That's where it comes from. You had the 12 days of Christmas. So, these months and months in advance would be very, very foreign as would a lot of the commercialism,” Riccetti said.

And that's the theme for this weekend's 'festive traditions' event where guests will travel through time and see what Christmas was like beginning in the 1790s. Actors dressed in period costumes will fill each of these rooms and give fun-spirited history lessons while interacting with the crowd.

“You're going to start to see the seeds of Christmas as a celebration some early decorations some early traditions,” Riccetti said.

The entire experience inside The Swetland House takes about an hour, and new this year will be a festival of wreaths silent auction.

“So, after you come and learn about Christmas if you see a nice handmade wreath that you're interested in, you can put a bid on it and maybe take it home,” Riccetti said.

But Riccetti says when you see him at the event, don't ask him for gift-giving advice, it will be foreign to the character he'll be playing.

“Gift-giving did not happen really until the Victorian era on any level, and even then, it was very limited to family and maybe somebody you were trying to court or date,” Riccetti said.

If you would like to find out more about this weekend's holiday event at the Swetland House in Wyoming, check out their Facebook page.

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