The Indiana Insider Blog

Conner Prairie by Candlelight is an educational part of Holidays at Conner Prairie

I never thought about how we celebrated Christmas 163 years ago. (I mean, who does? Seriously, 163 years exactly?) But I was reminded that while America may have been a “Christian nation” back in the 1830s, that doesn’t mean we all did the Christmas thing the same way.

I took my family to the Conner Prairie by Candlelight visit, courtesy of my friend Angela Tuell, Public Relations Manager at Conner Prairie. CPBC is a 60-minute guided tour of a few of the Prairietown homes, where visitors get to meet different families, and hear how they celebrate Christmas.

While we were there, we met a widow and her family running a small inn in Prairietown, where we could get a spot on a bed for 12.5 cents, but we would end up sharing. Then we visited a Jewish husband and wife who were emigrating to Terre Haute; they had just finished celebrating Hanukkah. Then off to a Presbyterian family — who addressed each other by Mr. and Mrs. — that believed Christmas was a sinful pagan holiday and that Christmas trees were idolatry, a Presbyterian woodworker who said he didn’t celebrate, but would be happy to take Christmas orders from those who did. We then met a family who celebrated Christmas together by reading Washington Irving’s Santa Claus poem, then off to Dr. Campbell’s house for a Christmas party. (The hot chocolate was excellent, and I got to have a second sugar cookie.)

I never realized that we celebrated Christmas so differently in this country. I’ve always taken it for granted that everyone did Santa Claus, that Christmas was a holy time of the year, and that everyone stuck a Douglas fir in their house. I always somehow knew there was a time we didn’t do Santa Claus, and that Christmas trees weren’t widely accepted at one point, but I never really thought about it.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children ($10 and $8 for members, respectively). The event will run on December 11 and 12, and 18 and 19. We attended the December 4th event. And you’ll be outside or in cold buildings, so be sure to bundle up.

Although they weren’t flying that night, Conner Prairie will sometimes fly the 1859 Balloon Voyage during Candlelight so guests can soar 350 feet above ground and see the city lights at night. Tickets for the Balloon Voyage are extra, but if you have/can get a coupon from any AM-PM/BP gas station, they’re still valid.

There is also a holiday-style candlelight buffet in Conner Prairie’s Overlook Room. Guests can dine on country ham, chicken, maple mashed sweet potatoes and warm cherry crisp. Tickets are extra.

Reservations are required for Conner Prairie by Candlelight and Candlelight buffet. The balloon flies when the weather permits.

If you want to mix education with your holiday celebration this year, stop by Conner Prairie. Be sure to call ahead for reservations because they fill up fast.

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