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Old Sturbridge Village captures the Spirit of the Season in December
Visitors invited to explore when ­ and from where ­ Christmas came to New England


STURBRIDGE, Mass. ­ December is Old Sturbridge Village's "fifth season," the time when the re-created 19th-century Village is transformed by exhibits that tell when ­ and from where ­ Christmas came to early New England. Research shows that early New Englanders, descendants of the Puritans, did not celebrate Christmas, but long-standing visitor curiosity about the history behind today's traditions is addressed throughout the month at the history museum with a program entitled Spirit of the Season (Dec. 1- Jan. 1).

The festively decorated Village, open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., glows with candlelight on six Friday and Saturday evenings (Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17, 5 to 9 p.m.) for Christmas Traditions by Candlelight, featuring holiday music performed by area groups, samples of some of the foods long associated with the holiday, fireside readings of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," and Father Christmas himself.

Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides are offered during the day on weekends as well as the special evenings, and visitors are invited to bring skates and ­ weather permitting ­ take a spin around the ice-skating area on the Common. Daytime programs also falling during Spirit of the Season include Family Vacation Week (Dec. 26-31) and First Day (Jan. 1), each featuring special hands-on activities.

A New Year's Eve celebration with a historical twist is offered at Bullard Tavern in the museum Village (Dec. 31), and New Year's Day Brunch at Oliver Wight Tavern at the museum's entrance (Jan. 1). Reservations for New Year's events may be made by calling 508-347-0395. Museum admission is not required to dine at Oliver Wight Tavern.

Daytime admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (age 65 & up), and $5 for youths (ages 3 to 17); with admission free for children under 3. Evening admission for Christmas Traditions by Candlelight is $12 per person, with admission free for children under 3.

Old Sturbridge Village is located just off Route 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., at the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and Interstate 84. It is one hour west of Boston, 3 hours northeast of New York City, and under one hour from Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Springfield and Worcester, Mass. More information is available by visiting www.osv.org or by calling 800-SEE-1830.

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