WEST BRANCH — Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, toys and cards will be hanging out from Saturday (11/17) to Jan. 6 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.
They’re part of the museum’s annual Christmas tree exhibit, so they’ll be hanging out on the trees, as old-fashioned ornaments. Theme for this year’s display is “Holiday Traditions.” It features 17 decorated trees, each one showcasing a different holiday tradition, from the 12 Days of Christmas to wooden toys and Christmas cards.
They reflect the way the holidays have evolved into a time to share traditional rituals with family and friends, through gift-giving, caroling, tree decorating, baking cookies and hanging stockings. All of these traditions begin with stories, some fact and some fiction. The decorated trees tell these stories.
The exhibit will show how Christmas in the United States has been made richer by incorporating holiday traditions and customs from all over the world. Americans have embraced these traditions and added their own special rituals to them as they have passed them on to their families down through many generations — beginning with the Christmas tree.
Fir trees had been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years, and the exhibit credits Germans with introducing the Christmas tree to America. They had been decorating their houses with evergreens, believing that these trees represented life and immortality and would protect their homes from evil. They decorated their trees with edible things, like gingerbread and gold covered apples, as well as glass ornaments, paper flowers, apples, wafers and sweets. Tinsel was created in Germany, too, and was originally made from thin strips of beaten silver.
Santa Claus — also known as Saint Nicholas, Kriss Kringle, Father Christmas and Papa Noel — is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture. The modern version we know today was created from the writings of Clement C. Moore, Washington Irving and the drawings of Thomas Nast.