Christmas Open House

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Christmas on the Farm, Saturdays and Sundays in December, 1- 5pm.

Also open to the public December 26th- 28th, 1- 5pm.  

Weekdays are reserved for school classes and other scheduled gatherings.   


Merna Baily
Christmas on the Farm at Wessels Living History Farm will recreate what it might have been like to live through the holiday in 1925. This is a particularly important time period in the history of Christmas observances. For instance, the custom of putting up and decorating a Christmas Tree was becoming a national observance. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit the first national Christmas Tree in Washington, DC. The 60-foot balsam fir was adorned with hundreds of electric lights and thousands of Washingtonians gathered at the White House to sing Christmas carols. And while electric lights had been used on a Christmas tree as early as 1882 – by an associate of Thomas Edison – most folks in Nebraska like Merna Bailey still had candles on their trees. Merna talks about seeing a candlelit tree during the 1920s in this oral history interview.

Christmas on the Farm is designed to let visitors see, not only how trees were decorated, but also what kinds of toys kids received, how families furnished their homes and what kinds of foods were used in the celebrations.  For instance, there is a vintage sideboard that still holds a china set from the time. In the 1920s, bananas were a new delicacy, and so the china set includes bowls shaped specifically to hold the exotic new food.

The practice of installing holiday miniatures started in the late 1800s. At that time, it was called “Putz.” What began as elaborate nativity scenes evolved over the years to what we know today.

More and more Christmas trees during the 1920s were lit by the new electric light sets (perhaps like the one at left). The advantages of electric lights were obvious – there was less chance you would burn down your house with an electric set than the open flame candles. So, the name “Matchless” was a big selling point for Christmas tree light sets during the 1920s.