Christmas Traditions in the Osage and Beyond!

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By: Roseanne McKee

It goes without saying that many decorate their homes inside and out with lights, Christmas trees, wreaths and pine garlands. Christmas parties and attendance at the Nutcracker Ballet and Handel’s Messiah choral performances are very enjoyable during the Christmas season. Donating to an angel tree is a lovely way of remembering those in need this time of year.

In this article, I’d like to highlight some less common traditions. If one resonates with you, I hope you’ll add it to your Christmas traditions this year!

A couple in Perkins, Okla., Darrin and Allison Harris, give their children new pajamas and a Christmas DVD on Christmas Eve. The children put on the pajamas, enjoy a movie on Christmas Eve, and are ready for photos on Christmas morning in the new pajamas.

Enjoying special foods is a delicious Christmas tradition!

My sister’s in-laws in Pennsylvania gather with the extended family on Christmas Eve, and serve homemade perrogies, which are dumplings filled with a savory filling and boiled. Perrogies have Eastern European origins, but made their way to the U.S. with immigrants who settled here.

Wisconsin residents enjoy kringle pastry, which became the state’s official pastry in 2013. Kringle was originally made in Denmark in a pretzel shape without any filling. However, a bakers’ strike in 1850 in Denmark changed that. Bakers from Vienna, Austria were brought to Denmark to fill the need for skilled bakers. The Austrian bakers used their knowledge of dough folding to create new types of pastries — kringle with fruits, nuts and other fillings was born! The O & H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin, carries on that tradition with oval shaped kringle in flavors such as: almond filling with cherries, brandy, chocolate, cranberry, pecan, cream cheese and cinnamon.

I still recall fondly the Christmas stockings of my childhood, which traditionally held: an orange, an apple, whole walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, candy canes and other wrapped candies.

Reading Christmas short stories to groups is one of my new favorite traditions. Last year I read a story from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas edition books at my son’s school Christmas party that I got from the library.

The story I chose was about prisoners creating ornaments out of the limited materials they had, and decorating a Christmas tree in the common area. The writer tells of how this effort brought him a measure of happiness during that difficult time in his life.

This year at their Christmas luncheon, I read to the members of the Alpha Delphians’ book club in Hominy. My short story selection was from the newly released Chicken Soup for the Soul book, A Book of Christmas Miracles. I recommend this book, the proceeds of which go to Toys for Tots.

My story selection was about a man who always gave up attendance at the church Candle Light Service on Christmas Eve, so that he could get the coffee and cookie time after the service prepared. One year he was unavailable and a young woman was asked to fill in for him. She was resentful at first, but found that giving in this way had several unexpected blessings.

After I read the short story, I tell my own experience of Christmas magic, which happened many years ago, while I was in college at the University of North Carolina, and working for a local family in Chapel Hill, N.C.; I met a sweet older gentleman at the family’s Christmas party.

The gentleman, who had a Dutch accent, told me of his family’s childhood tradition of Father Christmas knocking at the door after Christmas Eve supper and handing out candy and treats to the children. One year, during World War II, he said that the men were away at war and he wasn’t sure if the tradition would continue. After supper, there was a knock at the door and Father Christmas did appear. However, when he received his gift and candy, he thought he saw Tanta’s pearls under the Father Christmas’s beard.

Tanta means “aunt” in Dutch. Strangely enough, no one else at the party recalled seeing him and the family did not know who he might be. His identity remains a mystery, but nonetheless, telling this story (a story within a story) brightened my Christmas during a year when I would be unable to travel home to be with family, and retelling the story has become part of my own Christmas tradition.

I digress — back to Christmas traditions.

At the Dick Connors Correctional Facility in Hominy, Okla., the prisoners always create a float for the Hominy Christmas Parade, which often wins top prize.

I like the practice by one Hollywood couple, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, of doing puzzles at the dining room table while listening to books on audio. When I read this, I decided to add this to our family traditions at Christmas this year.

One of my neighborhood friends, Katrina Eash, does a Jesse Tree with her daughter to bring attention to the meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.

“A Jesse Tree is a decorative tree used during Advent to retell the stories of the Bible that lead to Jesus’s birth. Since Advent is a season of waiting, a Jesse Tree will help to build joy and anticipation as you wait for Christmas,” according to https://www.myjessetree.com.

“Jesse Trees have three main parts: A tree, symbolic ornaments, and passages or scripture readings to go along with them….They are designed to lead children through the entire story of the Bible during Advent in a simple and fun way. They also introduce important religious concepts to children and show how key Bible stories connect to Jesus. Each day during advent, you will hang a new ornament on the tree and read a passage (https://www.myjessetree.com).”

According to Wikipedia, “the word “tradition” itself derives from the Latin tradere literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.

I hope that these examples inspire you to add to your existing Christmas traditions and I wish you blessings, peace, prosperity and health this Christmas season!

Osage Nation Museum to hold Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop

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By: Hallie Winter, Osage Nation Museum Curator

Pawhuska, OK—The Osage Nation Museum is happy to announce the award of a Charitable Grant from the Osage Nation Foundation. This grant will be used to fund the 1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop.

The ONM will host their first annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop during the month of December. Starting on December 1st the ONM will have their Imagination Station set up with materials for visitors to make a holiday ornament. The Imagination Station is an engaging, interactive area in the museum’s exhibit gallery that is geared towards our youth visitors. However, visitors of all ages are welcome to participate. The ONM staff select activities that correlate with current exhibits and special programming to facilitate the hands on participation of visitors in a meaningful, creative and educational way. The activity for the month of December will be a simple paper cut out ornament with Osage designs. By using Osage themes and motifs this will help visitors learn about Osage culture while connecting with the Museum’s collection. Visitors can either take their ornament home or leave it with museum staff for inclusion on the ONM’s Holiday Tree.

Another station will be set up in the museum’s gallery that will tie into the Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. We ask visitors to add to our paper chain garland, using the theme: #weloveonm. We invite visitors to write down what they love about the ONM, these written comments will make up the paper chain garland that will decorate the ONM holiday tree.
On Saturday, December 10th the ONM will host a 6 hour pop in event, no registration required. The event will be held from 10:00am – 4:00pm. This will be open to the public and all ages are welcome. The ONM will be collaborating with Osage Artists, the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM department to produce unique, thoughtful and educational ornaments. We will have four craft stations set up, each with an Osage artist and teaching assistants to help visitors create one of a kind holiday ornaments. Each of the four stations will have a holiday ornament craft that is geared towards youth and easy to make.

The ONM will have two ornaments that visitors can make which tie into the Museum’s collection and mission statement. The Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education STEAM program will also have tables set up with one ornament each for visitors to make. We will ask the patrons to leave their ornament at the museum when it is complete. Participants will also be able to leave their hand print for the ONM’s Holiday Tree Skirt. We will be procuring enough materials to produce 200 of each ornament.

On Friday, December 16th from 5:00-7:00pm the ONM will host the first annual Creative Community Holiday Tree Lighting. Visitors will be able to come and see our holiday tree that has been decorated with the ornaments produced throughout the month of December. Santa will be at the museum for a photo op.

Participants will be able to pick up their hand made ornaments the following week from the museum.

Hallie Winter, Curator at the Osage Nation Museum said, “The staff at the ONM would like to thank the Osage Nation Foundation Board for approving our grant application to create the1st Annual Creative Community Holiday Ornament Craft Workshop. This workshop will engage and enhance relations with our local community while providing a fun filled, ONM collections related activity. While the target audience for participation is the youth in our community this event is all-inclusive and we hope to connect with a multitude of individuals of all ages. This workshop and resulting event will not only engage the youth but their parents as well, leading to return visits and reinforcing the museum’s “brand” as a welcoming, engaging and educational resource for our community and tourists alike. We are happy to be collaborating with the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center and the ON Education Department on this endeavor. ”

About the Osage Nation Museum:

The premiere destination to experience Osage history, art, and culture
Visit the Osage Nation Museum (ONM) in historic Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Our continuously changing exhibits convey the story of the Osage people throughout history and celebrate Osage culture today. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, and traditional and contemporary art. Founded in 1938, the ONM is the oldest tribally owned museum in the United States.

Admission and parking is free.

Contact Information:

Phone: 918-287-5441
Fax: 918-287-5227
Email: museum@osagenation-nsn.gov
Website: http://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/museum
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OsageNationMuseum/

Location:
819 Grandview Avenue Pawhuska, OK 74056