“The Museum of Science and Industry’s 75th Annual Christmas Around the World” by S.M. O’Connor

 

The Museum of Science and Industry’s 75th annual Christmas festival, Christmas Around the World, and its 23rd annual companion festival,  Holidays of Light, opened for the 2017-2018 Christmas season on Thursday, November 16, 2017, and will run through Sunday, January 7, 2018.  As early as 1941, the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) had a physics demonstration called “The Science Behind Santa,” but the M.S.I. began hanging flags and celebrating Christmas Around the World during World War II in support of the United Nations (then an alliance against the Axis Powers) in 1942.  According to Herman Kogan, author of the first official chronicle of M.S.I. history, A Continuing Marvel: The Story of the Museum of Science & Industry, Christmas Around the World began at the suggestion of Martha McGrew.  For twenty years, this lady had been the right hand of Major Lenox Lohr (1891-1968), the President of the Museum of Science and Industry from 1940 until his death in 1968.[1]  In 1942, the Museum of Science and Industry hung the flags of twenty-nine countries from the North Court balcony and Christmas trees were trimmed by Chicago-area members of the ethnic groups represented.[2]  It began with Greek Day on December 11, 1942.[3]  The next year, Miss McGrew received help from Chicago Tribune readers when she wanted to find a white horse for a group of Dutch-Americans from Holland, Michigan mark Sinter Klass Day.[4]

In 1988, Christmas Around the World was augmented by the exhibition of thirteen life-size dioramas representing Santa Claus in popular art at different times in European and North American history that has been made by artist-housewife Vanessa PeGan of Lafayette, Indiana over three years.[5]  In 1990, Christmas Around the World was augmented with the exhibition Coca-Cola Christmas Collection, which celebrated paintings of Santa Claus the Coca-Cola Company had commissioned from Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976) in 1931 to illustrated advertising.  If you would like to learn more about Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, Herman Kogan recounted the story of how and why Major Lohr started Christmas Around the World in A Continuing Marvel: the Story of the Museum of Science and Industry, published by Doubleday in 1973, as did Jay Pridmore in Inventive Genius: The History of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, published by Museum Books in 1996. Erin Okamoto Protsman wrote two books about Christmas Around the WorldSeason of Celebrating: A Cookbook From the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” Festivals, published by MSI in 1997 and Traditions: A Guidebook from the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” Festivals, published by Favorite Recipes Press in 1999.  In Museum of Science and Industry President David Mosena’s “Forward” to Traditions, he explained that in 1994, the M.S.I. added an ancillary exhibit, Holidays of Light, bringing attention to Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Saint Lucia Day, and Shogatsu.[6]

 

Nov212015_MSIVisitors_0690Figure 1 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This family is seen at Christmas Around the World looking at the Native American Christmas Tree on November 21, 2015.

Christmas Around the World, and Holidays of Light 2016 Opening DayFigure 2 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This woman was photographed as she photographed a Christmas tree at the opening of Christmas Around the World in 2016.

23621507_10156168482017437_7377272334230569413_nFigure 3 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: All of the doors that lead from the subterranean garage structure (under the Museum of Science and Industry’s front lawn) now have welcoming Christmas Around the World-themed signs.

The Burlington Zephyr is decorated with a red-and-silver Christmas wreath for the 75th Christmas Around the World.  The exhibit All Aboard the Silver Streak is between the two wings of the three-story underground garage.  Visitors who enter the Museum of Science and Industry by parking in the garage and enter at street level after getting off a C.T.A. bus out front or a Metra train at the 55th – 56th – 57th Street Station at Lake Park Avenue and walking eastward, pass All Aboard the Silver Streak as they enter the Entry Hall (formerly the Great Hall), where they can purchase tickets, pickup pre-purchased tickets at the Will Call desk, or purchase souvenirs at the Great Idea gift shop before ascending to the Lower Court.

23622477_10156168478892437_6450316901223609287_nFigure 4 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: The Burlington Zephyr is decorated with a red-and-silver Christmas wreath for the 75th Christmas Around the World, as seen at a night event on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

23559650_10156168483762437_7786301329191295826_nFigure 5 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: Notice the miniature Burlington Zephyr inside the Christmas wreath on the real Burlington Zephyr.

As guests ascend the escalators, stairs, or elevators from the subterranean Entry Hall (formerly the Great Hall) to the Lower Court, they will encounter the new “msi” logo with the addition of Christmas tree lights.  As I mentioned in “Upcoming Events at M.S.I., Lincoln Park Zoo,” the Museum of Science and Industry increasingly stylizes its name the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry” or “msi: museum of science + industry chicago.”  If they hang left, visitors can delve into the history of Christmas Around the World with a small exhibit on the annual Christmas festival along the eastern wall of the Lower Court.

23561279_10156168484972437_1205043873217561928_nFigure 6 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: The new “msi: museum of science + industry chicago” logo, with the addition of Christmas tree lights, greets visitors in the Lower Court as they ride up escalators or walk upstairs from the Entry Hall.

23622167_10156168488632437_4787572136951505194_nFigure 7 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This Christmas tree, visible in the previous picture, in the Lower Court has 75th Anniversary Christmas Around the World medallion ornaments.

23559819_10156168486337437_9123784407300521988_nFigure 8 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: Two parts of the eastern wall of the Lower Court, seen here on Thursday, November 16, 2017, are currently devoted to the history of Christmas Around the World.

23621276_10156168487382437_3645261153938668734_nFigure 9 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: Notice the picture in the top left corner alluding to Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!   The Museum of Science and Industry hosted There’s Fun to Be Done!  Dr. Seuss & The Art of Invention! from October 13, 2011 to January 8, 2012.  Notice the picture on the right of Miss Piggy kissing Kermit the Frog in front of the Chicago Theatre.  M.S.I. hosted the exhibit Jim Henson’s Fantastic World from September 24, 2010 to January 23, 2011.

Before heading up stairs (from the Ground Floor to the Main Floor), some visitors may want to see the Swiss Jolly Ball, which is set along the southern wall of the Lower Court.  Fans of Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) contraptions and pinball machines are delighted by this fifteen-foot-long flipper-type pinball machine that is a tribute to Swiss culture with a pinball that runs through or past a ski lift, a bank, a train, a mountainous field of cows, and a giant Toblerone chocolate bar.  Others may wish to take a detour through the Red Stairs and the Farm to visit Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle before heading up stairs, or may wish to see the Fairy Castle after seeing Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light).

Colleen Moore Fairy Castle @ the Museum of Science and IndustryFigure 10 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.  The nine-square-foot castle has 1,500 miniatures.  Built at a cost of $500,000 by silent film star Colleen Moore (1900-1988), who made a second fortune as a Wall Street investor, she used it to raise money for charity before Major Lohr convinced her to put it on display at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Colleen Moore Fairy Castle @ the Museum of Science and IndustryFigure 11 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the chapel from Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.  Helga Brabon designed the stained-glass windows with Biblical stories beloved by children. Bayard de Volo designed and carved the ivory floor, which was inspired by a mosaic floor in an Italian palace. The papal seal is real.  It was a lost in an insurrection in 1870 and Colleen Moore purchased at auction.  The organ truly plays music (by remote control).

Between 1928 and 1935, approximately 100 people worked on Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.  The miniature Bible in the Fairy Castle’s chapel is a real book was printed by David Bryce (1845-1923) in 1890.[7]  [Many of the books in the Library were printed by Bryce.]  The Russian icon above the pulpit was fashioned from a brooch Colleen Moore purchased in an antique shop.[8]  Behind the altar is a miniature copy of Correggio’s Holy Family.[9]  An ivory-and-glass vial Colleen Moore’s parents acquired in Italy contains a 300-year-old crucifix.[10]  David Webb designed the gold monstrance which contains a shard of the True Cross that Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) donated in honor of her late daughter and only child, Ann Clare Brokaw (1924-1944), who had died in an automobile accident at the age of nineteen.[11]

Bedecked with approximately 30,000 twinkling lights and hundreds of Christmas tree ornaments, the Grand Tree stands at the center of the Grand Rotunda in the Central Pavilion on the Main Floor of the Museum of Science and Industry.  The Grand Tree is forty-five feet tall.

The Grand Tree is surrounded by a veritable of over forest of fifty Christmas trees decorated by volunteers.  One represents the United States of America.  The others represent the cultures of foreign countries, the homelands of Chicago residents, from Armenia to Wales.  This year, there are fifty-four Christmas trees.  Of course, the Christmas tree is very much a European (specifically German) thing.  There are many parts of the world where Christians have no tradition of bringing pine trees into their homes at Christmastime, or have only recently adopted the practice.  People come to the U.S.A. generally and Chicago specifically from all over the world and adopt a tradition that came to the U.S. directly from Germany or indirectly by way of England (where the Hanoverian kings brought the tradition).  In many cases, when Chicago area residents decorate Christmas trees to represent their ethnic groups or homelands for Christmas Around the World the decorations we see on representative trees would be displayed in other ways in the countries concerned.

In addition to the Christmas trees, there are also other displays, including an Italian crèche, as well as displays stands for other holidays under the umbrella of Holidays of Light.  Most of the Christmas trees and other displays are in a circle surrounding the Grand Tree, within the Grand Rotunda.  This year, there are sixteen Christmas trees in the Transportation Gallery (East Court), and another two trees in the space leading from the Grand Rotunda to the Transportation Gallery.  There are six trees in Farrell Court, roughly between the Green Stairs and Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, and another three in the space leading from the Grand Rotunda to Farrell Court.  There are sixteen trees in Rosenwald Court (North Court), twelve of which surround the temporary Holiday Shop and the escalators and stairs that lead up to the Main Floor from the Lower Court on the Ground Floor.

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Figure 12 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the Grand Tree, as seen here on December 2, 2009, from the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual festival Christmas Around the World, is decorated with 30,000 lights.

Christmas Around The World @ The Museum of Science and IndustryFigure 13 Credit: J. B. Spector Caption: The Grand Tree, seen here on November 13, 2013, was decked with more than 30,000 lights and hundreds of Disney-inspired ornaments.  That year, the theme was inspired by D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s temporary exhibit Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, which the Museum of Science and Industry displayed from Wednesday, October 16, 2013 to Sunday, January 4, 2015.

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Figure 14 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Christmas Around the World had a Disney theme two years in a row.  The Grand Tree is seen here on November 14, 2014.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, ChicagoFigure 15 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Christmas Around the World had a Disney them two years in a row, but the color scheme changed from red to blue.  The Grand Tree is seen here on November 14, 2014.

_MG_0203Figure 16 Credit: Alison Neidt Toonen, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The 45-foot-tall Grand Tree is decked in more than 30,000 lights, as well as festive trimmings and ornaments. Ms. Toonen took this photo of an M.S.I. employee decorating the Grand Tree on November 11, 2014.

MSIVisitors_Dec042015_0372Figure 17 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: At the annual Christmas festival Christmas Around the World, over fifty 12-foot-tall Christmas trees surrounding the 45-foot-tall Grand Tree represent national and ethnic traditions from around the world.  This is the Grand Tree as seen on December 4, 2015.

CATW-2016-Trees-KC-6Figure 18 Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the Grand Tree in 2016.

Christmas Around the World, and Holidays of Light 2016 Opening Day
Grand Christmas Tree @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 19 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This picture of the Grand Tree, as seen in 2016, includes a magnificent view of the Central Pavilion’s Grand Rotunda.

CATW-2016-Opening-KC-19Figure 20 Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: David Mosena, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of Science and Industry, opens Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on November 17, 2016.

23621446_10156168611747437_6161255561762919121_nFigure 21 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Grand Tree as seen on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

23561566_10156168532732437_8409570156281975057_n

Figure 22 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Grand Tree as photographed from a darkened Transportation Gallery at night, as seen on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

The Snow Show takes place every half hour.  This takes place in the space between the Grand Rotunda and the Rosenwald Court.

Nov212015_MSIVisitors_0353Figure 23 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Visitors like these children seen on November 21, 2015 can enjoy indoor snowfall every half hour.

Across the Main Floor, visitors will find fifty-four twelve-foot-tall Christmas trees that will have been decorated by volunteers representing Chicago’s diverse ethnic communities.  In 2017, guests may notice three new Christmas trees representing Assyrians, Australians, and Nigerians.  Modern Assyrian Christians are direct descendants of the ancient Assyrians who established two empires in Mesopotamia.  They can be found in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran and are sometimes called Syriac Christians and Chaldean Catholics.  [Note that members of another ethnic group, Arameans, are also described as Syriac Christians.] Brotherhood is the theme of the Assyrian Tree.  Photos and Christmas tree ornaments represent khigga, a folk dance.

23519260_10156168492637437_3016216632631213058_nFigure 24 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Assyria Tree, as seen on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

The Australian Tree decorations include hand-made paperchains, decorations that represent sheep and native flora and fauna, and ornaments produced by Australian Aboriginal artists.  The Nigerian Tree is decorated with handmade Nigerian lace, garlands with black-eyed peas, and beaded jewelry.  Christians comprise 40% of the Nigerian population, and Muslims comprise 50%, with the remaining 10% being animist or belonging to other indigenous religions.

Christmas Around The World @ The Museum of Science and Industry

Figure 25 Photo Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities decorate over 50 Christmas trees. Mr. Spector took this photo on November 19, 2013.

23519361_10156168525812437_6666740968725368173_n

Figure 26 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: These are (from left to right) the Lebanon Tree,[12] the Germany Tree,[13] and the India Tree[14] in Rosenwald Court, as seen on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

23658397_10156168524282437_7470243793054284393_n

Figure 27 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: These are (from left to right) the India Tree, the Finland Tree, and the Hungary Tree.

23561646_10156177259637437_9033834215333319838_nFigure 28 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This Christmas wreath is on a window of the loggia vestibule, the old main entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry. One can see reflected in the glass some of the sixteen Christmas trees in Rosenwald Court on the Main Floor of the Museum, seven of which are facing the vestibule.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 29 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Local Chicago families who want to honor their children adopted in Russia decorate the Russian Christmas Tree every year.  We see two of the Russian children decorating the Russia Tree here on November 13, 2014.  The ornaments include Russian nesting dolls, pinecones, and dolls dressed in traditional Russian clothing.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, ChicagoFigure 30 Photo Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Volunteers, dressed in traditional Ecuadorian clothing, decorate the Ecuadorian Christmas Tree on November 13, 2014.

CATW2014_DecoratingTrees_0028Figure 31 Photo Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: A volunteer decorates the Norwegian Christmas Tree on November 5, 2014, which is adorned with handmade ornaments that feature traditional Norwegian art of rosemaling as well as yard depictions of Nisse, similar to Santa Claus.

Decorating trees for the Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights exhibit @ the Museum of Science and Industry
Decorating trees for the Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights exhibit @ the Museum of Science and Industry

Figure 32 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This woman is a volunteer decorating one of the dozens of Christmas trees at Christmas Around the World in November of 2015.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 33 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is Tree #22, the Puerto Rican Christmas Tree, at Christmas Around the World, as seen in 2016. Special Masses called Misa de Aguinaldos are held at dawn from the 15th to the 24th of December.  They are sung with musical accompaniment using traditional Puerto Rican instruments rather than being said.  Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve will include Nativity plays. The last day of Christmas, the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th), is a bigger deal in Puerto Rico than in the U.S.A. It is called Día de Reyes (“Day of the Kings”).  Devout Catholics will go to church to pray the rosary on Epiphany Eve (January 5th). Children may receive gifts from the Three Kings/Three Wise Men.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 34 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These are decorations on the Puerto Rican Christmas Tree at Christmas Around the World.  The cuarto (Puerto Rican lute) Christmas tree ornament is a reference to the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling, called Parranda or Asalto.  A version of this custom can be seen in the movie Nothing Like the Holidays (2008), which is set in Humboldt Park on the West Side of Chicago.

23658515_10156168501192437_5490804137211249246_nFigure 35 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is volunteer Elizabeth Rivera, who oversees the decoration of the Puerto Rican Christmas Tree, as seen on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

23621298_10156168901277437_5077445225458693530_nFigure 36 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is Elizabeth Rivera, a schoolteacher, who oversees the decoration of the Puerto Rican Christmas Tree.  Her family band also performed songs at a special event at the Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America like the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Guam, and has its own tree separate from the U.S.A. Christmas Tree.  Volunteer Elizabeth Rivera, a schoolteacher, has a heartwarming story about how she and her family assumed responsibility for decoration of the Puerto Rico Christmas Tree from Rosa Amaro, who decorated it for twenty-three years. Rosa’s husband handmade the flat musical instrument ornaments. Two years in a row, Elizabeth led students on field trips where she saw Rosa at work, and offered to help. The second year, she saw Rosa at work with her husband and a three-year-old. The next year, Rosa called and asked for help. She was getting ready to retire from her job with the City of Chicago. Elizabeth’s two sisters flew in from all over the world to help that year. After they finished, their father passed away, and they have kept his surname alive with their group, the Bonilla Foundation. Rosa and her husband have moved to Florida. An M.S.I. employee explained to Elizabeth she was lucky to take over a tree because once a volunteer family assumes responsibility for decorating a tee for Christmas Around the World, that family wants to maintain the tradition and are loathe to give it up. Elizabeth has changed the star up top but kept Rosa’s theme and the star-shaped ornaments Rosa made. She repainted the flat musical instruments Rosa’s husband made and acquired three-dimensional instruments to compliment them. Elizabeth made the ornaments that reference parranda (Christmas carols). This year, she added capias (ribbons) that are normally worn on lapels for special occasions like weddings and baby showers for the 75th anniversary of Christmas Around the World. Her family also dedicated the tree to the people of Puerto Rico. Many people back home in Puerto Rico are going to have to wait for months before utilities are restored in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 37 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is Tree #41, the Kenya Christmas Tree, at Christmas Around the World, as seen in 2016.[15]

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 38 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These are decorations on Tree #41, the Kenya Christmas Tree, at Christmas Around the World, as seen in 2016.

CATW 2012 Tree DecoratingFigure 39 Credit: J. B. Spector Caption: Volunteers help decorate the Kenya Christmas Tree on November 10, 2012. 

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 40 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is Tree #42, the Japanese Christmas Tree, at Christmas Around the World, as seen in 2016.[16]

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Figure 41 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These are decorations on Tree #42, the Japanese Christmas Tree, at Christmas Around the World as seen in 2016.

BoliviaFigure 42 Credit: The Museum of Science and Industry Caption: M.S.I.’s Bolivian Christmas Tree, seen here on November 17, 2005, is adorned with Cholita dolls–representing the native dress of Bolivian women.

During Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, cultural organizations in the Chicago area that represent ethnic groups who settled in this region will perform songs and dances from their homelands or traditional to their cultures in the Main Auditorium in the M.S.I.’s West Pavilion.  Performances will take place this weekend; next weekend; and the first, second, and third weekends in December. Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light are included in Museum Entry (general admission tickets), as are all cultural performances.

Children can meet Santa Claus on Yesterday’s Main Street.  In a press release, the Museum of Science and Industry stated, “Children can meet Santa before his epic Christmas journey on November 18-19, 24-26. 30; December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, and 21-23.”  Photos with Santa require the purchase of a timed-entry ticket.

Please note that this schedule is subject to change.  Up-to-date information will be hosted at the Holiday Studio.

CATW2011_HolidayStage_0015Figure 43 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These children are dancing on the Holiday Stage in 2011.

CATW2012_preformers_0096 (4)Figure 44 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These teenagers are dancing on the Holiday Stage in 2012.

23659633_10156172889162437_6279820848850175962_nFigure 45 This is an Italian crèche located on the Main Floor, near the Red Stairs and the Holiday Shop, at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Italian Tree is just outside the Transportation Gallery.

23561433_10156173116997437_2985292354326343055_nFigure 46 This is a close up picture of the Italian crèche (also known as a nativity scene or presepio in Italian). Nativity scenes date back to 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi re-enacted Christ’s birth in a manger in Bethlehem with a pageant at the Italian hilltop town of Greccio.

Holidays of Light, now in its twenty-third year, is a multicultural display of holidays that celebrate light or enlightenment. Each year, the display highlights the traditions of the Chinese New Year; Diwali, a Hindu and Sikh festival; Kwanzaa, celebrated by some Black African-American families; Ramadan, celebrated by Muslims; Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday; Visakha Puja Day, a Buddhist holiday; and St. Lucia Day, the Swedish version of the saint’s feast day (December 13th) in Advent.  Holidays of Light displays are interspersed amongst the Christmas trees throughout the Main Floor.  This year, there are eight Holidays of Light display stands.

Christmas Around The World @ The Museum of Science and Industry

Figure 47 Credit: J. B. Spector Caption: Hanukkah is one of several multicultural displays featured in Holidays of Light, which highlights holidays that celebrates light or enlightenment.  This display was photographed on November 14, 2013.

23561799_10156168528737437_9214043744928006297_nFigure 48 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Hanukkah display stand for Holidays of Light, as seen on Thursday, November 17, 2017.

23621440_10156168534102437_6021833852277015102_nFigure 49 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr display stand for Holidays of Light, as seen on Thursday, November 17, 2017.

23518882_10156168529587437_1246267562361445572_nFigure 50 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Kwanzaa display stand for Holidays of Light, as seen on Thursday, November 17, 2017.

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Figure 51 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is Swedish volunteer Anna-Maria Adair with the Saint Lucia Day display stand from Holidays of Light, as seen on Thursday, November 17, 2017.  She is a second-generation Christmas Around the World volunteer who showed me a newspaper clipping from 1964 in her scrapbook that included a picture of her at the M.S.I. as a little girl.

Santa Lucia was a martyr killed under the Great Persecution of Emperor Diocletian, which was the last and most severe persecution of the Christians under the Roman Empire.  Swedish volunteer Anna-Maria Adair explained to me that in Sweden there is a Lucia Dagen (the Feast Day of Saint Lucia) tradition of a daughter in every household wearing the Saint Lucia crown of linden berry and candles serving coffee to her parents and Lussekatt (special Lucia Day buns) to everyone in the house.  For the Saint Lucia Day display stand, ivy was substituted for linden berry in the crown.  This crown is inspired by the crown Santa Lucia is said to have worn when she in the dark catacombs when she brought food to fellow Christians who had sought shelter underground.

There is a temporary Holiday Shop on the Main Floor in Rosenwald Court.  It stands roughly where the old gift shop stood in Rosenwald Court before the Entry Hall opened with the Great Idea gift shop before the turn of the century.  The Holiday Shop sells gifts and decorations including Christmas tree ornaments that represent cultures from all over the world and snow globes that are sold exclusively at the Museum of Science and Industry.

23519288_10156168520872437_9221424703757519409_nFigure 52 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Holiday Shop in Rosenwald Court on the Main Floor in the Central Pavilion of the Museum of Science and Industry.  I photographed it after hours on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

23622093_10156168526697437_3519205048237425961_nFigure 53 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a Holiday Shop snow globe display window with the new “museum of science + industry chicago” logo, as seen on Thursday, November 17, 2017.

The Mold-A-Rama souvenir-making machine in Rosenwald Court is now producing red Santa Claus figures. There are very few Mold-A-Rama machines left. Most of them are operated by Mold-A-Rama, Inc. (the second company to have that name) in Brookfield, Illinois.

23519077_10156168521452437_7746332295647383135_nFigure 54 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: The Mold-A-Rama souvenir-making machine in Rosenwald Court, near the Blue Stairs, is now producing red Santa Claus figures.

23659232_10156168522417437_8511157566161938066_nFigure 55 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This particular Mold-a-Rama produces Santa Claus figures. It is located on the Main Floor in the Central Pavilion inside Rosenwald Court. Figures cost $3.

23559421_10156168523167437_4420969927004522903_nFigure 56 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a close up picture of the Mold-a-Rama Santa Claus wax souvenir.

23658784_10156184923842437_7263362415503646260_nFigure 57 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: Season of Celebrating: A Cookbook, published by the Museum of Science and Industry in 1997, was the first of two books Erin Okamoto Protsman wrote about Christmas Around the World.

This year, the sponsor of Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is the GATX Corporation.  Founded in 1898, GATX owns and leases out railcar fleets in North America, Europe, and Asia.   A subsidiary, the American Steamship Company (A.S.C.), acquired in 1973, operates the largest fleet of American-flagged ships on the Great Lakes.

Once can save time waiting in line and $2 per ticket if one purchases tickets online here.  Otherwise, Museum Entry (general admission) tickets are $18 per adult and $11 per child (ages three-to-eleven). Admission to certain exhibits and movie screenings in the Giant Dome Theater require separate tickets.  The exhibits that require separate tickets are Brick by Brick, Robot Revolution, the Coal Mine, Fab Lab, and Future Energy Chicago.  There is no extra charge to walk around the U-505, but separate tickets are necessary to take the U-505 Submarine On-board Tour, as well as the WOW! Tour.

Currently, the Museum of Science and Industry is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Today, Saturday, November 18, 2017, and tomorrow, Sunday, November 19, 2017, the Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  It will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 25, 2017.  The Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 26, 2017; on Saturday, December 2, 2017; on Sunday, December 3, 2017; and on Saturday, December 10, 2017.  Further, the Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Saturday, December 16, 2017 to Saturday, December 23, 2017.  The Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2017.  As always, the Museum will be closed on Christmas Day, which this year falls on Monday, December 25, 2017.  From Tuesday, December 26, 2017 to Saturday, December 30, 2017, the Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.   The Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on New Year’s Day, which next year will fall on Monday, January 1, 2018.   From Tuesday, January 2, 2018 to Friday, January 5, 2018, the Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  From Saturday, January 6, 2018 to Sunday, January 14, 2018, the Museum will be open its normal schedule from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  On Monday, January 15, 2018, the Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Museum of Science and Industry is located at the northeastern corner of Jackson Park in the neighborhood of Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.

 

 

[1] Martha McGrew became Major Lohr’s assistant in 1922, while he was still Captain Lohr.  At the time, he was publisher of The Military Engineer, a bi-monthly publication of the Society of American Military Engineers, and advertised he needed a civilian assistant.  She was a coed who sold insurance to put herself through college.  In 1929, Major Lohr resigned his commission rather than accept a post in Alaska and she went with him to Chicago.  General Charles Gates Dawes (1865-1951), a financier, former Vice President of the U.S.A., and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, had given Lohr a grand alternative, to help organize Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress (1933-34).  Lohr became Vice President and General Manager of A Century of Progress Corporation, where he worked for Rufus Dawes (1867-1940), a banker and younger brother of General Dawes.  [From 1934 until his death, Rufus Dawes was simultaneously President of A Century of Progress Corporation and the Museum of Science and Industry.]  Miss McGrew went with Major Lohr to New York City, where he served as President & Director of N.B.C. from 1935 to 1940, and then returned with him to Chicago when he succeeded his mentor as President of the Museum of Science and Industry.

[2] Herman Kogan, A Continuing Marvel: The Story of the Museum of Science & Industry. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company (1973), p. 111

[3] Kogan, p. 111

[4] Kogan, pages 111 & 112

[5] “Santa Artistry,” Progress, November/December, p. 4

[6] Protsman, p. 5

[7] Terry Ann R. Neff, Within the Fairy Castle: Colleen Moore’s Doll House at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Chicago: Museum of Science and Industry (1997), p. 40

[8] Neff, p. 40

[9] Ibid

[10] Neff, p. 43

[11] Mrs. Luce was a short story writer, playwright, editor, journalist, essayist, orator, congresswoman, and diplomat who was married to Henry Luce (1898-1967), the founder and publisher of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated, from 1935 until his death.  An adult convert to Catholicism (who had been received into the Church by the famous Bishop Fulton Sheen) and former Republican Congresswoman, she was a natural pick for President Dwight David Eisenhower to appoint as American Ambassador to Italy, a post she filled from 1953 to 1956, during which time Pope Pius XII gave her the shard of the cross inside a gold medallion.  See Neff, p. 43

[12] Most Lebanese Christians are at least partly Assyrian.  There is a large Lebanese diaspora in the Americas.  American television star Tony Shaloub’s father was a Lebanese immigrant and his mother was the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.  Mexican movie star Salma Hayek’s father is of Lebanese descent.  Argentinian model Yamila Diaz-Rahi is half-Lebanese.  Mexican multi-billionaire industrialist Carlos Slim Helú, was born to Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon.

[13] Christmas trees are a German invention.

[14] Christians have never been the majority in India, but Christians have been in India since the Apostle Thomas (a.k.a. Doubting Thomas) brought the faith there.

[15] Christians make up 83% of the Kenyan population, with 47.7% being Protestant, 23.4% being Catholic, and 11.9% belonging to other denominations.  In Kenya, many Christians will leave big cities to return to their hometowns and villages to be with their extended families by Christmas Eve.

[16] There are large numbers of Japanese Catholics in South America but Christians are a distinct minority in Japan and Christmas is not a national holiday there.  The Portuguese Jesuit priest Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) brought Christianity to the Japanese Empire in the 1540s, but emperors and shoguns attempted to eradicate Christianity in Japan from 1565 until the Meiji Restoration.  Catholicism survived as an underground movement.  A group of twenty-six Catholics were martyred by crucifixion on February 5, 1597.  About 30,000 kakure kirishitan (“hidden Christians”) came out of hiding in the 1870s when Catholic priests returned to Japan.  Today, there are over 500,000 Catholics in Japan and they make up about .5% of the population.  With other denominations, Christians as a whole make up about 1.5% of the Japanese population.  Quite a lot of people in Japan decorate their homes and have special dinners that include chicken and cake.  Many Japanese couples make it a point to have dinner together on Christmas not unlike a Western couple’s celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day.

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1 thought on ““The Museum of Science and Industry’s 75th Annual Christmas Around the World” by S.M. O’Connor

  1. Hey there ,I only have found this website thank you

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