Winter Holidays in 2020 and Happy New Year

December 16, 2020

As with everything this past year, the winter holidays are going to be celebrated a little bit differently because of the pandemic. Museums are continuing to offer virtual programs, tours, et. cetera to help us all engage with and keep our spirits up during the holiday season. While we are figuring out how we are celebrating this year, I thought I would do a short examination of the history of holidays that take place during this time of year.

There are many holidays celebrated in December around the world, and the ones I mention in this blog are only a sample of what holidays are out there. I have included in the list of links a link to the December holiday calendar that shares various holidays celebrated this time of year (even some that secular holidays). The holidays celebrated in December include but are not limited to Yule, Christmas, and Hanukkah.

Yule is a celebration, practiced by pagans, neo-pagans, and other individuals who incorporate witchcraft practice in their lives, which involves gathering together to enjoy meals and gift giving, and activities like feasting and wassailing (where the tradition of singing carols comes from) are sometimes regarded as sacred. Also, it is one of the celebrations from the Wheel of the Year acknowledging the change in seasons; Yule represents the celebration of death and rebirth in nature, and the eventual return of the sun from its weakest point in the year, faced during the winter season. Some of the traditions that are practiced during this Yuletide time are but not limited to decorating the Yule tree, lighting the candles on the Yule log, making and hanging wreaths, and telling stories.

This celebration corresponds with the astrological change of the Earth tilting away from the sun, known as the Winter Solstice. The amount of sunlight on Earth during this time varies, short day and long night to long darkness, depends on which part of the globe one lives on. In the Northern Hemisphere, it also marks the first day of winter. In Mary Kate Hagan’s article “Winter Solstice Celebration”, she pointed out that

Winter Solstice is a time to pause, with the restraints of winter, to perceive the seeds of our future growth. It is an invitation to align ourselves with the turning of the seasons and the natural world, experiencing ourselves as being woven into the sacred web of life, acknowledging the mystery of the Divine creative presence pulsating through all. (185).

Yule is linked to a number of religious celebrations and spiritual traditions that coincides with the Winter Solstice which occurs on December 21st this year in the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the most common examples of Yule’s connection with other religious celebrations and spiritual traditions is Christmas. A lot of the traditions that have been adopted into Christmas traditions came from pagan celebrations. Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday is one of the examples of books written about the history of Christmas and its roots in paganism. Nissenbaum used documents and illustrations in his book to share Christmas’s carnival origins and shows how it was transformed, during the nineteenth century, into the celebration we know now. His book also shared the origins of Christmas traditions from St. Nicholas to the Christmas tree and the practice of giving gifts to children.

Christmas is the celebration in the Christian religions to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and, especially in the secular world, gather with loved ones by giving presents and having meals together. There are many customs that vary in different countries, and in the United States Christmas traditions are celebrated together with many customs from other cultures and countries. Families around the world decorate the tree and home with bright lights, wreaths, candles, holly, mistletoe, and ornaments. Some individuals attend church on Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts; in other parts of the world, Santa arrives on other modes of transportation such as in Hawaii he arrives by boat and in Ghana he comes out of the jungle.  Another holiday celebrated in December is Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday.

Hanukkah is celebrated by the Jewish people honoring the Maccabees’ victory over King Antiochus who forbade them from practicing their religion. They celebrate over eight nights to remember how the oil in the temple was supposed to last for one night ended up lasting eight nights. To celebrate Hanukkah, they start with a prayer, the lighting of the menorah, and food. The menorah holds nine candles, eight candles to be lit on each night and the nineth is used to light the other candles. Also, children play games such as the dreidel, sing songs, and exchange gifts. Unlike Christmas, the days the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah changes each year because the holiday follows the lunar cycle. This year Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 10th and ends on December 18th. As I am writing this blog post, it is the sixth night of Hanukkah (when this is posted, it will be the seventh night) and will be lighting the menorah with my husband and his family.

All of the celebrations that I mentioned above and the ones I share within the links section have in common is the focus of celebrating with loved ones whether we are in person or not. While celebrating the holidays this year will be different, technology will be able to help us connect with family members as we focus on getting a better control of the pandemic.

I am taking a break from posting on the blog for the holidays. I will be working on the campaign and more posts on the blog for the upcoming new year. Stay tuned for more posts and exciting developments in the new year! Thank you all for your continued support, and I hope all of you have a fun and safe holiday.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

Related Posts:

Blog Campaign:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/lbmfmusedblog

Happy Holidays! Museum Education during the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year: Ready for Museum Education

Links:

Holiday Calendar List

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/winter-celebrations/

https://religiouslife.princeton.edu/religious-holidays

USA Today: “Hanukkah 2020: When it is and what to know (no, it’s not the ‘Jewish Christmas’)” by David Oliver

F. C. Conybeare, “The History of Christmas”, The American Journal of Theology, Jan., 1899, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan., 1899), pp. 1-21, Published by: The University of Chicago Press.

Jan M. Ziolkowski, “The Yuletide Juggler”, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity, Volume 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century, Open Book Publishers.

Mary Kate Hagan, “Winter Solstice Celebration”, The Furrow, Vol. 61, No. 3 (March 2010), pp. 185-188 (4 pages), The Furrow.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/12/winter-solstice-2017-first-day-winter-definition-space-science/

The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday by Stephen Nissenbaum

America’s Favorite Holidays: Candid Histories by Bruce David Forbes

All About Yule

Holidays Calendar: Yule

James Buescher, “Wiccans, pagans ready to celebrate Yule”, Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster County, PA, Published: Dec 15, 2007.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 20, 2020

As a way to observe the holiday, I am honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by taking a moment out of my day to remember his work for racial equality and the dream he shared with the country. This past weekend I have come across some resources that help educate children about his legacy, and the lessons that we all can take away from his work and legacy are still relevant today.

The following are links to resources to help educate and share the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

https://www.education.com/resources/martin-luther-king-jr-day/

https://www.education.com/blog/whats-new/5-ways-families-can-honor-martin-luther-king-jr-and-his-legacy/

https://sharemylesson.com/collections/martin-luther-king-lesson-plans

https://sharemylesson.com/blog/kindred-spirits-beyond-dream-mlk-classroom

One of my previous blog posts addressed race, dialogue, and inclusion discussed in an online conversation with other museum education professionals, and how we should continue to strive to improve how we connect with all visitors. I included the link to the post here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/06/16/edcomversations-and-journal-of-museum-education-race-dialogue-and-inclusion/

What are important lessons do you believe we should take away from Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy?

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2020

It is officially 2020, and there is so much to look forward to this year. I hope for more progress in the museum field, especially in providing salary information in job descriptions and equity. I also hope to incorporate more self-care into my everyday life to maintain a work/life balance. And finally, I hope to read more books this year (this will always be my new year’s resolution).

Normally in the past blog posts, I provided a list of books I would like to read in the new year. This year, I ask all of you to share with me what books you are either hoping to read or have already read. It can be history and museum related, or any book in any genre. Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for continuing to read my blog. I wish you all good health and happiness in the new year. Stay tuned for more posts this year.

What books have you read or have already read? What do you hope to accomplish this year?

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year: Ready for Museum Education 2020

December 19, 2019

2019 has gone by so quickly. There is so much that have happened in the past year, and I hope there will be more accomplished in the upcoming new year. I took a look at the first blog post I wrote in 2019 to take a look at what I have accomplished since the post. In the post “A New Year: What Needs to be Accomplished in the Museum Field”, I stated that

One of my goals for 2019, for example, are to gain and develop my skills as a leader in the museum education field. To accomplish this goal, I hope to take more courses and other professional development programs that will help myself move forward in my career. At the beginning of my career, I have developed skills as a museum educator. After a number of years in the field, I knew that in order to move forward I need to gain and develop new skills to challenge myself and make more impacts on the museums I work for and the field in general. Within the past few years, I focused more on professional development programs and courses, and sought opportunities that focus on administration, leadership, program development, and other related opportunities. I recently completed a course through the AASLH’s online program called Small Museum Pro!, and in the course Museum Education and Outreach I work through the basics of museum education, how to implement programming, training staff, and partnering with the community for outreach. For 2019, I will continue to seek similar professional development programs and opportunities to accomplish my career goals.

As 2019 comes to a close, I can see that I have continued to seek professional development programs and opportunities to accomplish my career goals and I plan to continue this main goal in 2020.

One of the examples was attending the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) conference for the first time. While I have attended conferences before, this past year’s AASLH was the first time I attended an in-person professional development conference with AASLH. In the past I was not able to attend AASLH conferences because I was not able to financially afford to travel to the cities they were located in and the conference fee at the same time. This past year’s conference was located in Philadelphia where I attended sessions, presented at a poster session on the Founder’s Day program the Three Village Historical Society won a leadership award for, and explored the city.

Also, I attended a webinar hosted by AASLH called Beyond the Spreadsheet: Finance and Organizational Priorities and the instructor for the webinar was Becky Beaulieu, who is the author of Financial Fundamentals for Historic House Museums (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). Designed for staff, volunteers, and board members, the webinar was designed to help participants foresee and tackle challenges of incohesive financial planning, such as fragmentation within the institution, lack of proper fundraising strategy, and potentially weak and even uncompliant organizational management. Beaulieu also addressed building buy-in amongst internal and external stakeholders to best position your organization for financial stability and strong partnerships. I participated in a Twitter discussion that focused on our goals as museum educators and on a personal level from the past year and for the new year.

In the MuseumEdChat, there was discussion about endings and beginnings in honor of the new year and museum education. The first question we answered and talked about was: Q1 What’s something that ended *well* for you this year (ideally #MuseumEd related)?  What made it end so well? #MuseumEdChat. I mentioned the leadership award that was earned for the Three Village Historical Society’s Founder’s Day program, a local history program that teaches fourth grade about the founding of the town of Setauket, diversity, and inclusion.

Then the next question we addressed was: Q2 We’re ending a *decade* – so tell us about “good endings” you’ve had in the past 10 years. #MuseumEdChat. Since a lot has happened in the past ten years, I decided to give a small highlight of what the “good endings” were in the past. My highlight was that I graduated college, attended and graduated with a Master’s in Public History, moved to Long Island, and stopped working in a job that underappreciated and underpaid me.

The third question we answered on Twitter was: Q3 What are you personally looking forward to starting next year in #MuseumEd? (Maybe goals you are striving for, a new initiative, a work anniversary?) #MuseumEdChat. To answer this question, I stated that I look forward to expanding my skills so I could have more well-rounded experiences as a museum education professional, and I strive to present at professional development programs. Also, I said that I hope to start a new position in the museum education field that will financially and equitably support me.

I also delved into the skills I wanted to expand upon which were leadership, lesson planning, digital learning, and financial. The financial skills are especially important for me to develop because in my educational background finances were not covered enough in my courses, and I believe that it will help me learn more about how to develop a budget for education programs.

The fourth question we addressed in the conversation was: Q4 Any trends you see that could have a *positive* effect on #MuseumEd in 2020? #MuseumEdChat. I believe that having salaries shared in the job description will have a positive effect on museum education in 2020 because it will help job seekers understand what the museum can afford for salary and make the decision on what will fit their needs the best.

The final question was: Q5 Finally… clink your glass virtually with someone who had an influence on you this past year to you want to wish “Buona fina e buon principio” (good ending and good beginning). Pay it forward! #MuseumEdChat. There are too many to list since my colleagues, both in the museum I work with and online, are the ones that had an influence on me this past year. My colleagues and their journeys inspire me to pursue more in professional development for my own career. I am also inspired by all of you who continue to read these blog posts and share your experiences, especially in museum education.

On a personal level, there was a lot that happened in 2019. For instance, I got married to my love and best friend that I have known for over eleven years. Also, I have a new niece who is growing up so fast and she is not even a year old yet.

I wish everyone has a happy holiday and a new year. Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts this year and in past years. I am looking forward to what is in store for 2020!

Buona fina e buon principio!

Relevant Posts:

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/01/10/a-new-year-what-needs-to-be-accomplished-in-the-museum-field/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/09/05/aaslh2019-conference-recap/

Thanksgiving: How We Are Changing the Way We Teach Kids Why We Celebrate

November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving is a few days away, and we reflect on how we teach the next generation about its history. Children in the past began to dress up as Pilgrims and Native Americans for school pageants, make Turkeys in arts and crafts, create headbands with feathers and clothing out of shopping bags, design hats with buckles on top, and listen to stories about the first Thanksgiving. When I was a child, I was taught these lessons and since I grew up in Massachusetts, I made a number of trips to Plimoth Plantation to interact with the living history interpreters. We were taught at a young age that Native Americans and the Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving in 1621 when they shared food and learned to get along. This story was reinforced especially in the media, and rarely did the media challenge the story.

In the 1993 film Addams Family Values the camp Wednesday and Pugsley Addams attend put on a play based on the first Thanksgiving. Wednesday and other kids considered outcasts of the camp were assigned to portray Native Americans and the rest of the kids were cast as food and Pilgrims. The play began with the typical depiction of what our society has taught children about the first Thanksgiving including the Pilgrims finding common ground with the Native Americans. As one of the characters invited the Native Americans to their table, Wednesday breaks from the play and delivers this speech:

You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the roadsides. You will play golf and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, “Do not trust the Pilgrims…”

Wednesday’s speech painted a different picture from the play attempted to tell, and is closer to the reality Native Americans face since their land was taken over. And now? The more we learned about Native Americans, the more we are moving away from this myth we were taught for generations.

I was introduced to the truth about the first Thanksgiving during one of my college History courses. Before we left for Thanksgiving, our professor assigned readings from the book The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz. The Deetzes pointed out the myth of Thanksgiving which opened my eyes more to how this myth was used as a credible source to teach Early American history and the disservice it does to representing the true nature of the Pilgrim/Native American relationship. In recent years, we have started to move away from teaching children the myth.

Time magazine released an article, which will be in the December 2nd through 9th edition of the magazine, focusing on the change in the way American children are learning about the first Thanksgiving. Their article covered a workshop in Washington D.C. called “Rethinking Thanksgiving in Your Classroom” in which teachers learned a better way to teach the Thanksgiving story to their students and to do so they did a lot of studying to learn about the story. The teachers were part of the movement to change the way Thanksgiving is taught in schools that had been stuck in the 19th century’s nostalgic interpretation of the past. While the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, it was not a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln declared it to be so to unite a country torn by the Civil War. The late 19th century saw a number of instances of rebranding people and events in the first Thanksgiving to fit the idyllic narrative, and by the 1920s Thanksgiving was the most talked about holiday in classrooms while leaving out details that made the settlers look bad. It was assumed that the Native Americans have disappeared which was why non-Native Americans feel comfortable dressing children in costumes; the reality is there are 573 federally recognized tribes today, and the active Native American culture and communities can be found across the country. The 1960s and 1970s civil rights movement, with the growth of the American Indian Movement, made the difference between reality and the story of Thanksgiving harder to ignore.

 Education Week also released an article that covered the turn to a different way to introduce the history of the first Thanksgiving. In addition to explaining the origins of how the celebration of Thanksgiving began and how the myth began to be taught in schools, they discussed when teachers noticed the need for change. Jacob Tsotigh, a citizen of the Kiowa tribe and the tribal education specialist for the National Indian Education Association, was quoted in the article stating that there is decreasingly less focus on the myth as people are made aware of the history being in actuality a myth as well as the realization that there is a different perspective which needs to be considered. While this myth has been shared for approximately 150 years, the Native American perspective has not been recognized in American schools. According to the article, Tsotigh recommended that to help students appreciate colonial oppression of Natives and the violence ensued from it the holiday should be reframed to honor representatives of Native communities who greeted the small number of European visitors at the time with open arms and believed in sharing with those less fortunate.

As we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, we should remember to not only express what we are thankful for but to also learn more about Native American culture and their perspectives about the holiday.

I have included additional resources about teaching Thanksgiving for more information. I am thankful to all of you who have either continued to read the blog since the beginning or have just started to read the blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Resources:

https://time.com/5725168/thanksgiving-history-lesson/

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/11/22/as-thanksgiving-approaches-unlearning-history-continues.html

Deetz, James, Patricia Scott Deetz, The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony, New York: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2000, pg. 22-24.

Additional Resources:

https://blog.nativehope.org/what-does-thanksgiving-mean-to-native-americans

http://www.seattleschild.com/This-Thanksgiving-educate-your-family-about-Native-history-and-culture/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2016/11/27/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving/

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/25/the-invention-of-thanksgiving?fbclid=IwAR3rQIfmcyD29tetwpltW15916fCVsdIoM3dg7V1IAUMgsOyhUe8vywd_wk

The History of Halloween and How Museums Celebrate

October 30, 2019

To celebrate Halloween, it is time to remind ourselves of how Halloween became the holiday we know in the twenty-first century. Halloween’s earliest root is the Pagan celebration and ancient Gaelic festival Samhain (pronounced “saah-win”) which marked the time of year when seasons changed, and many observers believed the boundary between this world and the outside world is at its thinnest to connect with the dead. Margot Alder explained in her book Drawing Down the Moon that Pagans, or Neo-Pagans, are varying religious groups with differing tradition, scope, structure, organizations, ritual, and names of their deities but regard one another as part of the same religious and philosophical movement; they share the same set of values and communicate with one another through a network of newsletters and websites, as well as regional and national gatherings. Her book went into detail about groups that attempt to recreate ancient European pre-Christian religions with leaders who developed key concepts and theories that are now common within the whole of Paganism. In an attempt to keep this post straight to the point, I will share how Samhain was celebrated, how it is celebrated nowadays, and how it led to the Halloween we now celebrate from resources I came across.

Early celebrations of Samhain involved a lot of ritualistic ceremonies to connect to spirits including celebrating in costumes (using animal skins) as a disguise themselves against ghosts, special feasts, built bon fires, and made lanterns by hollowing out gourds. During these celebrations, people would also tell each other fortunes. After the celebration was over, they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them and keep themselves warm during the winter months.

Modern Pagans still celebrate the holiday with death as its central theme. According to Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, she pointed out

Although observances may include merry-making, the honoring of the Dead that is central to Samhain is a serious religious practice rather than a light-hearted make-believe re-enactment. Today’s Pagan Samhain rites, while somber, are benevolent, and, although centered on death, do not involve human or animal sacrifices. Most Samhain rituals are held in private rather than in public.

There are many ways that Pagans today celebrate Samhain. Like people of other faiths, they always honor and show respect for their dead but modern Pagans particularly mark these practices during Samhain. When loved ones recently die, they are remembered, and their spirits are often invited to join the living in the celebratory feast. They also spend time during Samhain formally welcome those born during the past year into the community. Because death symbolizes endings, Samhain is not only a time to reflect on mortality, but it is a time to take stock of the past and coming to terms with it before moving on and looking forward to the future. As Christianity grew, Samhain practices were adopted and branched out into religious holidays celebrating their saints.

When Christians adopted the practices, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve on October 31st, followed by All Saints’ Day on November 1st, retaining the elements of remembering and honoring the dead. All Hallows’ Eve literally means “hallowed evening”, and both All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day paid homage to the holy saints, or “hallows”. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows’ Eve when worshippers prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast. A third holiday, All Souls’ Day, was usually combined with the other celebrations and traditions from this holiday seem to be precursors of the modern Halloween celebrations. In some traditions, children went from door to door begging for soul cakes (or small cakes described as hot-cross buns, current-topped buns, or small round loaves) and state a traditional rhyme on the day: “A Soule-cake, a Soule-cake, Have mercy on all Christen soules for a Soule-cake”. This tradition evolved into trick-or treating that the candy-grabbing concept became part of the mainstream in the United States between early to mid-1900s when families would provide treats for children hoping they would be immune to the holiday pranks. How do museums relate to Halloween celebrations?

As with other holidays celebrated, museums look for opportunities to engage with visitors and participate within their communities. When museums began to focus on visitor engagement to remain relevant, more programs celebrating Halloween emerged. Current examples of Halloween museum programs are limitless so I will share some of the ones I came across.

Of course, the most popular place to visit during Halloween is in Salem, Massachusetts. There is a website about family friendly events that happen in Salem, especially during Halloween, called Haunted Happenings . Events include but not limited to The Salem Psychic Fair & Witches’ Market, Witch’s Brew Patisserie Tea, Black Cat Tales Book Signing and Discussion, Salem Haunted Magic Show presents Hysteria: Ghost Stories, 28th Annual Temple of Nine Wells-ATC Witches of Salem Magick Circle 2019 e.v. For Samhain Night Free Event, and Haunted Dinner Theater presents Clue Live.

Last Sunday, the New York Historical Society had an event called Beyond Spooky: Hallowe’en Family Party to celebrate their exhibition Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere. Some of the activities they had included get a ride on one of two visiting ponies, create your own horse on a stick, listen to spooky stories, craft secret messages with our Living Historian spymaster, and trick-or-treat for candy.

The Museum of the City of New York has a Halloween party on Halloween geared to families with children ages 6–12 years old. Adults and children attending the party can wear costumes to trick or treat on the spooky New York scavenger hunt, make fun Halloween themed accessories, and dance at the monster mash dance party. Not all Halloween celebrations in museums only target families to attend their public events.

In Connecticut, the New Britain Museum of American Art has an event called Spooky Speakeasy: 1920s Halloween Party! On Halloween partygoers will arrive at the Museum to experience the 1920’s-inspired nightclub to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, learn how to do the Lindy Hop and the Charleston from professional dancers, and listen to live music of the period performed by The Cartells. There is an event that is more for adults but kids can participate if they wish to participate in being scared.

On select dates between September 20th and November 9th, the Eastern State Penitentiary is holding an event for the Halloween season called Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary which is America’s largest haunted house. It consists of six haunted attractions included in one admission price: Lock Down (zombie inmates and guards), Machine Shop (interactive attractions with maniacal surgeons, dentists, and nurses), Infirmary, Blood Yard, Quarantine 4D, and Break Out (inmates using visitors to aid in their escape). No matter how you celebrate this year, I hope everyone stays safe and has a wonderful time.

Happy Halloween! Blessed Samhain!

Resources and Additional Resources:  

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America, New York: Penguin Group, 1979; revised edition 2006, pp. 3, 243–99.

Morton, Lisa. The Halloween Encyclopedia, Second Edition, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011.

Skal, David J. Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, New York: Bloomsbury, 2003.

https://www.countryliving.com/entertaining/a40250/heres-why-we-really-celebrate-halloween/

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/holydays/samhain.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/halloween_1.shtml

Halloween Event at the Jack the Ripper Museum, London: https://www.jacktherippermuseum.com/

Hershey’s Chocolate Tastings, Hershey, PA: https://hersheystory.org/hersheys-chocolate-tastings/

My Impressions of Salem Witch Museum: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2018/10/04/patron-request-museum-impressions-salem-witch-museum/

Valentine’s Day Celebrations in Museums

Added to Medium, February 14, 2019

A lot of us had been celebrating Valentine’s Day today in varying ways, and museums have been as well! We as museum professionals recognize that there is potential for visitors to celebrate within our museums so we open our doors and have programs, activities, and many more planned relevant to the holiday. By offering programs and other initiatives, museums have the opportunity to attract more and frequent visitors to come inside its doors to explore what we offer to the community.

The Museum of the City of New York, for instance, had a variety of programs between February 11th and February 14th. There was a love-themed museum wide scavenger hunt that allowed visitors to search through the museum while interacting with the museum and other participants on social media. When they use the hashtag #MCNYVDay on their posts, visitors can be entered in to win a family-level membership. Another example is the Love Yourself Project 10,000 Campaign; according to the Museum’s website:

The Love Yourself Project uses a simple yet beautiful medium, the origami heart, to invite people to participate in the thought provoking experience of asking: “What do you love about yourself?” The campaign encourages people to inwardly explore and discover what they love about themselves. Through this awareness, the Love Yourself Project seeks to plant a small seed and spread the consciousness of self-love.

It is a wonderful reminder that we need to express self-love as well as love for other individuals. As museum professionals continue to remind themselves about the importance of self-care, it is a wonderful reminder for museum professionals as well to be able to love themselves and get the love and care needed.

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan also offered a number of programs for families visiting the Museum. It offered a Stuffed Animal Repair Workshop in which kids can learn how to stitch, stuff, and repair their stuffed animals; they can also sew Valentine hearts onto them if the kids chose to do so. Children could also learn how to make 3D Valentine’s Day Cards using children’s pop-up book techniques.

At the Long Island Explorium, where I work with visitors of all ages, children had the opportunity during the weekend before Valentine’s Day to create messages in a bottle. They used recyclable water bottles and varying materials such as crayons, markers, yarn, ribbon, and stickers to design their bottle. Once they were done with their bottles, they wrote messages on pieces of paper and placed them into their bottles.

Museum Hack, which offers unconventional tours of museums in cities such as New York City, also offered a number of ways couples can celebrate Valentine’s Day. For instance, they offered a private Valentine’s tour for couples to explore a museum and in the city of their choice. The tours can be customized to a variety of interests including Game of Thrones and 19th century French Impressionism. Also, tours are designed to provide a “behind the scenes” look into museums and they include hidden stories about the art and artists, games and activities in the galleries and fun group photos.

Of course I did not list every museum out there that offered Valentine’s Day themed programming since there are so many out there.

Have you visited a museum during the Valentine’s season? Did you visit a museum on Valentine’s Day (this year or in the past)? What did you do in those museums for Valentine’s Day?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Check these Out:

https://museumhack.com/valentines-day-ideas-museums/

https://www.mcny.org/valentinesday

https://westmuse.org/articles/sharing-love-museums-celebrate-valentines-day

https://cmom.org/tag/valentines-day/

Happy Holidays! Museum Education during the Holiday Season

Originally posted on Medium. December 15, 2016.

“It’s the Holiday Season…while the merry bells keep ringing Happy Holiday to you!”

It is that time of year again when everyone prepares for the holiday season by decorating their homes, shopping for gifts, and visiting family and friends. During my over seven-year experience in the museum education field, I found that especially between mid-November and the end of December not many school programs are scheduled and taught but there are plenty of family programs that encourage kids and family members to play as well as create together. For instance, at the Stanley-Whitman House there was a family program that took place around Thanksgiving. At Connecticut Landmarks’ Butler-McCook House, the historic house museum participated in First Night Hartford by allowing parents and kids to create hats and masks for the New Years’ Eve parade. At Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, they have Gingerbread Day in which both kids and adults create miniature gingerbread houses made from fresh-baked gingerbread, icing, and candy. At the Long Island Maritime Museum, the museum has a Dutch Christmas event which includes a lantern-led tour of the museum’s property, ornament-making for the kids to decorate Christmas trees that will be given to families in need, and a visit from Sinterklass (Santa Claus); the museum also hosts a Gingerbread workshop to teach people how to design gingerbread houses. All the events mentioned not only encourage families to visit the museums but they allow families to spend time together, and the holidays are about spending time with family and loved ones. In addition to spending time with family and loved ones, this is also a time to appreciate the time spent on our passions especially if you work in a museum. This is the season when holiday parties are held at various organizations, and museums are no exception.

At the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, all staff members including museum educators and volunteers have pot luck lunch and brought various desserts as well. Also, the staff played trivia games, and played the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The most recent holiday party I attended was at the Long Island Maritime Museum which was a pot luck lunch volunteers and staff gather together to celebrate the end of the year as well as the hard work put into running the museum. In addition to working and participating in these events and holiday parties, I also enjoy reading Christmas themed books. Around the holiday season I always like to refer to Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas ever since I read it during one of my first history courses when I was a college freshman.

Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas discusses the origins of Christmas and the transformation of the holiday into the celebration we know today. His book went into detail about the origins of Christmas by discussing the Puritan’s views on the holiday. The Puritans outlawed Christmas since it was at the time Christmas was known as a holiday filled with drunkenness and rioting. Nissenbaum then discussed the transition from the drunken celebration to a holiday of gift-giving and spending time with family. During the nineteenth century, Christmas became a holiday of domesticity and consumerism, and most of the traditions people partake in during the season started during this time. Some of these traditions include the story of St. Nicholas, the Christmas tree, and giving gifts to children. After I read this book, I came to appreciate the holiday more since I understood how Christmas has evolved over centuries to become the holiday my family and I celebrate, and it also confirmed that my views on Christmas have changed since I was a child. While I was a little more focused on gifts as a little girl but the more I grew up to becoming the museum professional I am today I not only appreciate the time spent with family but I also enjoy seeing the joy in the next generation’s eyes when they experience Christmas. During this holiday season, I am thankful for my family and for the journey my career has taken me. I hope you all take the time to appreciate the people around you this holiday season and to enjoy the little things that come your way. Happy Holidays!!

What are some traditions you enjoy most? Does your museum/organization have their own holiday traditions? If so, what do you like to do at your holiday gatherings?