Do Johnstown Things to do in and around Johnstown, PA.


Immigrant Christmas Traditions at the Wagner-Ritter House & Garden

On December 10-11 and 17-18, 2011, at noon and 3pm, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association will be sponsoring “Immigrant Christmas Traditions” at the Wagner-Ritter House and Garden. This year, the Immigrant Christmas will focus on crafts, stories and treats from Germany, Hungary, Italy and Wales in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Shelley Johansson, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, explains, “This is our third year of offering this program, and it’s already become a tradition. We see a lot of families with older children, many who are part of one of the ethnic groups featured in the tour, and adults with older parents.”

The Wagner house was built in the 1860s by German immigrants, of whom three generations resided before the house was donated to JAHA in the 1990s. The house survived the Johnstown flood, was restored to its original appearance, and opened as a museum in 2004.

The Immigrant Christmas Traditions tour begins at the Heritage Discovery Center with a presentation. Coffee and confections from the four represented countries will be available for the guests to sample.

Several children’s crafts will be featured as well, including the Italian “Urn of Fate” and a “Calennig”. Hungarian crafts (as well as a discussion) will also be available, including “Betlehemzes” and “Lupa Nap”.

Ms. Johansson also notes that, ”People are looking for meaningful ways to spend time together at Christmas, and looking back at the ways Johnstown’s ethnic groups might have celebrated is a great way to do that.”

After the conclusion of the tour and crafts at the Heritage Discovery Center, attendees will walk to the Wagner-Ritter house, which will be decorated this Christmas as it would have been for Christmas in the 1800s. Once at the house, there will be a presentation on German Catholic traditions, as well as a guided tour.

The tours will be offered at noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10-11 and 17-18, and will begin at the Heritage Discovery Center. Tickets for adults are $10 for JAHA members and $12 for non-members; for children aged 3-17, $5 for members and $7 for non-members. Reservations are recommended, as many tours sold out in 2010 – call 814-539-1889. Click Here for more information on the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

Click Here for directions to the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center.