Construction of the Considine’s Christmas of the Past Center has been recently completed at 201 10th Ave., in Fulton, Illinois just east of the Windmill Museum in Fulton.
I will be open Sunday, Dec. 26; Monday, Dec. 27; and Friday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve Day from 3 to 5:30 p.m., allowing area residents viewing of the current 12-foot community-sized putz (stable). Several other 17th and 18th Century smaller putzes, (crib) scenes, are also on display.
Let’s go “putzing” is one of the highlight of the day after Christmas and into January for much of Christian Europe, and in many parts of Pennsylvania.
The customs of using hand-carved figures along with flora, rocks and moss, and whatever else the countryside afforded, has already been a Third Century custom there!
Earlier, this Medieval-era custom was originally brought here by the Hessian soldiers during the Revolutionary War in 1776. That practice has continued to flourish throughout that region.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has at least seven very large Moravian community putz displays, bringing about 100,000 viewers each season during the 12 days of Christmas and even longer, and adding warmth of hearts into the January days!
In European cities, Krippen, or putz walks, (visiting cribs) are highly organized events allowing visitors to go on bus-walking tours to view these truly marvelous creations of Olde World customs and artifacts from city to city, and country to country. There the practice of children carrying small cribs to the shut ins of the community is often still done. The children announce: “We are bringing Jesus to you!” as they open their suitcase “box-type” crib and show the figure of the Infant.
Personally, some of my fondest memories of my life were viewing crib scenes during winter trips taken to Europe over many years. On one of the trip, relatives, through the Holdgrafer-Wubben’s ancestral lines, drove me to many elaborate church, home and civic displays. These krippen putz scenes remained much of January, giving viewers a longer reflection and enjoyment time after just celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Christ.
Visitors will be able to view the putz in the inner gallery along with viewing many smaller stables from the 1500s to the 1950s – hopefully annotated by the 26th, time permitting. This perhaps putz (rhymes with roots) may be the only community-sized one to be displayed in the Midwest.
Both galleries at the Considine Center will eventually preserve and display the holiday handmade arts primarily of Christmas, Easter, Valentines etc. created before the 1950s when holiday wares became primarily machine produced.
I hope to explain the legends, stories, about the displayed creations to anyone who may not be aware of them. The rest of the “bubbles” of Christmas and other holidays past are not ready to be viewed until perhaps Spring time. The entrance gallery is still in the formative stage. However, the inner gallery is ready for visitors! I’m prematurely opening, because the visiting of the stable (putz), is better shown on these two days during these 12 days of Christmas time.
A nurse/artist from Preston is lending her wonderful talents and oversights to this project. Geralyn Scheckel-Evans and myself have always been interested in the creation of these hand-crafted Christmas items that have given so much pleasure to centuries of families. We are hoping the area residents are also interested in seeing these delicate “masterpieces” that once adorned the home, and churches in centuries past. Also thanks to the True Construction firm of Fulton for a mighty fine job. Gratitude to all others that helped with this monumental task at my advancing years! Special thanks to my ingenious brother Matt Rose for his wisdom and carpentry skills, along with Bill Empen for the same.
There is no charge for this opening, but hope looms that visitors will want to return at a later date to see the finished displays in both galleries.
May the spirit of Christmas live in the stable of our heart always! .