Christmas celebration taking participants back to 1862

December 03, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. — A Dec. 15 Christmas celebration in Blue Ridge Summit will harken to the holidays 150 years ago when the region’s men were headed to battle in the Civil War.

Living historians associated with the Monterey Pass Battlefield will gather in the battlefield’s future interpretive center off Pa. 16 across from Happel’s Meadow from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There, they will get together around a fire and talk about families being separated by war in 1862.

“There are a couple different scenarios we’ll be playing out,” said John Miller, historian.

At 7:30 p.m., Miller will do a presentation about how the township’s citizens spent their Christmas with loved ones away on the battlefield. That will be in Blue Ridge Summit Plaza after a 6:30 p.m. performance by the Appalachian Wind Quartet and a 7 p.m. Victorian-era church service at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.

All the events are tied to the community’s tree-lighting ceremony, which will occur at 6 p.m. near the library. This year’s ceremony will be dedicated to the late Matt Lamer, a veteran who served on the library’s board.

“Matt was well-known around the community,” said Duke Martin, one of the event’s organizers.

Also on tap are sleigh rides and firetruck rides from 4 to 6 p.m., crafts, singing and a visit from Santa Claus.

“Everything is free,” Martin said.

Miller said Christmas traditions in the 19th century in many ways mirrored the ones today, with much of the holiday focused on family and friends.

“They spent the time together, along with going to a couple small pageants or church services,” he said.

The ladies of the house prepared care packages for the men on the front lines, Miller said. Some of those packages even included turkey, he said.

“It was a very difficult time on everybody on all sides,” he said.

For many Civil War soldiers from this region, 1862 was the year they first missed Christmas for battle, Miller said.

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