17 Community Highlights: Colonial Christmas to Taiping Rebellion. Birds of Prey to Honey Bees.

Colonial Christmas to Taiping Rebellion. Birds of Prey to Honey Bees. Domestic Service of the Gilded Age to Culinary Curiosities

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week:  Take a step back in time this holiday season at Sturbridge Village, where you can celebrate  Colonial Christmas during their “Christmas by Candlelight” event. This historical celebration happens every weekend leading up to Christmas including Friday evening, December 6th.  Families can experience life in the 1800′s through sleigh rides, a recreation of Mrs. Cratchit’s Christmas dinner, Christmas traditions, carolers, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, a puppet show, music, dancing, and much more. This event allows visitors to experience the Christmas holiday as it was in the past in Colonial New England.


Colonial HistoryOrnithologyCultural StudiesLocal HistoryEntomologyAstronomyParent Workshops


Colonial History

The Society of the 17th Century is a group of reenactors that will demonstrate Colonial arts, crafts, and trades at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, November 30th. Families can learn about redware pottery, pottery made by the earliest settlers in New England which reveals the hand of a potter, best of all potting medium. Families can also learn about spinning, wood carving, quill pen writing, basket making, and much more. There may be some opportunities for hands-on activities. Those interested in colonial history would enjoy these demonstrations, which show how New Englanders of the 17th century created useful handmade goods. Free with museum admission. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. $

Take a step back in time this holiday season at Sturbridge Village, where you can celebrate  Colonial Christmas during their “Christmas by Candlelight” event. This historical celebration happens every weekend leading up to Christmas including Friday evening, December 6th.  Families can experience life in the 1800′s through sleigh rides, a recreation of Mrs. Cratchit’s Christmas dinner, Christmas traditions, carolers, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, a puppet show, music, dancing, and much more. This event allows visitors to experience the Christmas holiday as it was in the past in Colonial New England.

Hear seasonal stories and poems read by volunteers in Colonial period costume at the Stockbridge Library on Friday evening. Combining history and literary arts, this reading will get you in the holiday spirit! Stories include The Night Before Christmas, Yes Virginia There Is a Santa Claus, as well as pieces by Pearl Buck, Robert Frost, and others. In addition to these stories and poems, thank you notes from local soldiers (thanking the town for Christmas presents) during WWII will be read during this free event, giving listeners a first hand account of holiday history in the Berkshires. Best for adults and older students.

Ornithology

Wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi will be at the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in South Deerfield on Saturday afternoon, November 30th, with three of his birds of prey show. See live raptors upclose, learn about their adaptations and the importance of local habitat preservation for their survival! This exciting live show will be great for the whole family and will give kids a chance to get up close to these incredible birds.

Cultural Studies

Historian Stephen R. Platt will discuss his book, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War at the Jones Library on Tuesday evening, December 3rd in Amerhst. China’s 19th-century Taiping Rebellion, which is one of the largest civil wars in history, was responsible for over 20 million deaths from 1850-1864, as a result of both warfare and subsequent famine and pestilence. This event is an amazing opportunity to learn about the Rebellion and how it might have changed China’s fate in the modern world. Older students interested in history would benefit from this free lecture.

Local History

Celebrate the holidays at The Mount in Lenox on Saturday, November 30th at their “Backstairs” tours. These tours will highlight the roles, relationships, living conditions, and working expectations of the 20 servants who staffed the house and property each summer.  Taking a Backstairs Tour will allow families to learn about the story of the home and Edith Wharton’s place in literary history; more importantly, however, it will shed light on the class divisions that existed during the Gilded Age in the United States. Students can ponder the ethics of keeping servants, and can think about fair working conditions and wages when they consider the servants’ employment.

Jennifer Pustz, museum historian and author of Voices From the Back Stairs, comes to the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield on Tuesday evening, December 3rd, for a free illustrated lecture on the lives of servants in historic homes. Pustz’s lecture tells of the diversity of domestic service in New England using period domestic manuals and ephemera.

Join the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke on Monday, December 1st, as they continue their fall lecture series, “Historical Culinary Incidents: An Exploration of Food and Culture in the Pioneer Valley.” This week, Barbara B. Blumenthal presents “Culinary Curiosities at Smith College.” Blumenthal will talk about the many cookbooks, housekeeping and etiquette manuals, books with culinary themes, and food-related oddities in Smith College’s Mortimer Rare Book Room and in her own collection. The books and manuscripts offer fascinating looks at the history of food from the 16th-20th centuries and this lecture gives community members an opportunity to learn about these resources.

Since the days of the daguerreotype in the 1850s, photographers have been photographing Northampton and its residents. Many of these photographs are housed at Historic Northampton and the Forbes Library in Northampton and will be featured in the new book, Hampshire County Memories: The Early Years. Photographer Stan Sherer, along with Faith Kaufmann and Dylan Gaffney of Forbes’ Library Information Services, will present samples from the collections at Historic Northampton and the Forbes Library and discuss important moments in Northampton throughout history at Forbes Library on Wednesday evening, December 4th

Entomology

Do your children know where their sweet sticky honey comes from or the danger bees across the globe are currently facing? Bring older students to see a screening of “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us” at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls on Tuesday evening, December 3rd.  This is an award-winning documentary about the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive. This is Buckland Energy Committee’s second film in the committee’s fall series providing inspiration on topics of the environment, sustainability, and energy use. The film will be followed by discussion with two beekeepers from the community, Dan Conlon and Daniel Berry, who will share their unique experiences with bees in the Pioneer Valley.

Astronomy

Join the Springfield Museums for “Stars Over Springfield,” an introductory astronomy talk and star viewing at the Science Museum’s observatory, on Friday evening, December 6th. Astronomy educator, Paul Cardone, will present a talk titled, “What’s New in Our Solar System?” The event is recommended for kids 8 and up, but younger children are welcome. If it is cloudy or rainy, a planetarium show will be presented in place of the live star viewing.

The Milham Planetarium at Williams College in Williamstown will be open to the public for a free planetarium show on Friday evening too. Families can learn about the motions of the planets, the phases of the moon, comets, and much more!

Parent Workshops

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

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