My husband and I went to "Christmas City" in Bethlehem this weekend with friends.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a city of 75,000 people in the Lehigh Valley in the eastern portion of the state. On Christmas Eve in 1741, David Nitschmann and Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, leading a small group of Moravians, founded the mission community of Bethlehem along the banks of the Monocacy Creek by the Lehigh River in the colony of Pennsylvania. They named the settlement after the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of Jesus.
Until the 1850s, only members of the Moravian Church were permitted to lease land plots in Bethlehem. The historic Brethren's House, Sisters' House, Widows' House and Gemeinhaus (Congregation House) with the Old Chapel are remnants of this period of communal living. The Moravians also ministered to regional Lenape Native Americans through their mission in the area.
Bethlehem became a center of heavy industry and trade during the industrial revolution. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation (1857–2003), founded and based in Bethlehem, was once the second-largest steel producer in the United States, after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based U.S. Steel. The now closed steel mills area is slowly being redeveloped with an arts center and a Sands Casino Resort.
The town was declared "Christmas City" in 1937, and during this season all of the historic Main Street is decorated festively. There are many scheduled holiday events and activities, as well as a German inspired outdoor Christmas Village market that offers traditional German Food, crafts and music.
While my friend and I window shopped on Main Street, our husbands did what most husbands seem to do when they don't particularly enjoy shopping -- they sat on a bench and chatted.
The Hotel Bethlehem was built in 1922 on the site of the first building in Bethlehem – a two-room log house – where on Christmas Eve 1741, the original settlers conducted their evening worship. The hotel is beautifully restored to its past roaring twenties grandeur, and was also adorned with many historical holiday decorations.
The Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem is a holiday marketplace that was established in 1993 and has welcomed more than 950,000 people through its doors over the past 19 years! The market has more than 200 different vendors during its six-week run, with artisans coming from 20 different states to sell their wares. It also offers delicious German and Austrian foods for sale, such as bratwurst, German roasted almonds and strudel.
There was a large array of handcrafted items and decorations for sale in the Christkindlmarkt, including Germany’s Käthe Wohlfarht, with its amazing collection of handmade ornaments, nutcrackers and collectibles.
Musicians from Moravian College played Christmas music and hymns for the diners and shoppers in the market.
There were also glass blowing and ice sculpture demonstrations, as well as photo opportunities for the children with St. Nicholas.
We really had a nice time visiting Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and enjoying a littler bit of German holiday flair in the US!
I'm adding this post to the following blog events:
Our World Tuesday
Alphabe Thursday --the letter this week is "C"