Holiday moods

Visit the Grand Rapids area for variety and action.


Christmas in the Grand Rapids area

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Following is a picture essay of the holiday season in the Grand Rapids area, Michigan. From big events such as the annual Christmas party for the ABC Undercar employees in  Amway Grand Plaza counting 400 people to a small pioneer one-room school house in Fallasburg Historic Park. That all happened in one day on Dec. 13, 2014. I was overwhelmed by the disparity of both events. One was like a magical kingdom, the other inviting like a tiny cottage in the woods. Enjoy.

Holidays in Grand Rapids The lobby of Amway Grand Plaza was decked out for Christmas.

The humble one-room school house, home to the Fallasburg Historical Society.

Fallassburg Park The annual Christmas fundraiser for the Fallasburg Historical Society.

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Gold Sunday in Czech Republic

The Three Sundays of Christmas in Czech Republic.

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Gold Sunday ushers in Christmas

Note: This is the last part in the “Three Sundays of Christmas” series.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Gold Sunday is the  last Sunday before Christmas which this year falls on Dec. 21. By then all good housewives have their baking & cleaning done according to Czech traditions. Before I started writing and blogging,  I could make up to 10 different Christmas desserts including vanilla crescents, “nutty baskets” and chocolate “rohlicky” and” Ischel mini-cakes.”

As a student at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin, we would even get time off for baking.

“As long as you’re keeping the tradition going,” Russian professor Chudarkova used to say.

Czech nutty baskets Christmas nutty baskets

That reminds me of the opening day of the hunting season here in Michigan where some schools get the day off. I always baked long into the night, and I filled the pastries on Christmas Eve…

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Silver Sunday traditions

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Silver Sunday ushers in Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Silver Sunday is the second Sunday before Christmas that literally makes the Christmas holiday fever rise by several degrees even though it is usually cold outside at this time of the year. It is also the third Sunday of the advent in the catholic religious year.

Outdoor Christmas markets in most European cities on major squares, are in full swing by now, and they will be open until Dec. 23rd & some on Dec. 24th. The rush is on for everything from nuts and poppy seeds for baking purposes, wooden toys and other crafts, apples and dried fruits, ornaments and keepsakes.

Christmas markets in Czech Republic Christmas markets in Czech Republic. Photo by Adela Kobylikova

It’s also time to get a Christmas tree. Although back in Czech Republic most families decorated their tree on Christmas Eve, here in US our family has…

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Celebrate Christmas by lighting of your hometown tree. Pictured is the lighting ceremony of the tree in Frydek- Mistek in Czech Republic.

European Christmas markets also start around this time with the Three Sundays of Christmas.

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Christmas at Brunswick Museum

Celebrate Victorian Christmas

By Sarah Harmon

Writer EW Sarah Harmon
Sarah Harmon
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The tiny railroad town of Brunswick, Maryland has a certain irresistibly quaint charm, and never more so than at Christmas time. November 29 and 30 the Brunswick Heritage Museum hosted a wonderful opportunity for families to experience what their great-grandparents did to celebrate the holidays. Guests were greeted on the first floor by a volunteer in beautiful period costume then ushered up the stairs to begin their journey back in time. On the second floor, a table beckoned visitors to sample a traditional Victorian Christmas cake. A far cry from the cakes we’re accustomed to in this century, it has relatively little sugar and no frosting. Much of the flavoring comes from molasses and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. After examining the many display cases showing life in the area one hundred years ago, you are welcome to stand in front of the American flag and take the Oath of Office to become the Mayor of Brunswick. A few of the items that can be seen include antique baseball jerseys, an old barber’s chair, and a Victorian wicker body basket-a grisly homage to the danger of working on the railroad tracks. Children can’t resist the rack of clothing in which they are invited to dress up so they can be properly attired for sitting in the Victorian parlor. Especially for the Victorian Christmas event, kids were able to make a paper cornucopia decorated with holiday stickers and filled with hard candies to hang on their Christmas tree at home. The third floor was focused completely on an enormous model train display with signs declaring the distance of various local towns from Washington’s Union Station.

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Brunswick Museum

Visitors to the museum on Saturday were treated to a bit of traditional Victorian entertainment as well. Punch and Judy shows were commonly seen on the streets of England in the seventeenth century, though they moved to the beaches during the nineteenth century. The Victorian era saw them migrate indoors to the parlors of patrons, at which point most puppeteers altered the script of the shows to focus on more family friendly material as opposed to mocking public executions and the like. Professor Horn’s performance, as seen at the Brunswick Heritage Museum, included a short magic show and a delightful musical performance using a box that when wound sounded much like an old fashioned calliope in addition to the puppet show itself. One thing that sets Punch and Judy shows apart from the average puppet show is that it requires audience participation. For instance, the Policeman puppet asked the children to call out if they saw Punch hiding. The children thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the puppets while the adults laughed at the Clown puppet calling a Devil puppet a “tobacco lobbyist.”

After enjoying the museum, the perfect place to stop for lunch is a few doors down at Railroaders Coffee and Tea. Prices are very reasonable, and the sandwiches are positively delectable. The International sandwich includes guacamole, brie cheese, and apple slices heated on a panini press. The coffee is delicious and the staff are delightful. When it comes to Christmas celebrations in western Maryland, the town of Brunswick takes the (Victorian) cake!

Links: (Brunswick Heritage Museum) (Professor Horn’s Punch and Judy) (Railroaders Coffee and Tea)

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