In 1741 a religious group, members of the Moravian Church, purchased land where the Monocacy Creek flows into the Lehigh River. While worshipping in a stable their first Christmas Eve, they named their settlement “Bethlehem.” Many colonial-era structures they built still survive, and they are considered the finest examples of 18th-century colonial Germanic architecture in America. Historic Downtown Bethlehem has been designated a National Historic Landmark District.
On our trip, we will experience Christmas in Bethlehem, where the historic downtown will be beautifully decorated for the holiday. Our first stop will be the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, where our guide will introduce us to the early history and unique culture of this community. We’ll discover remarkable stories behind the city’s founders and their traditions, including their communal living, missionary work and Christmas observances. Next, we’ll walk around the corner to the Central Moravian Church for a tour of the “Putz,” a uniquely Moravian holiday tradition in which the community works together to display the entire Christmas story using figures, many of them antiques, set amid live moss, driftwood and rocks. Next, we’ll take in the decorations along Main Street while we walk to the restaurant where we’ll enjoy dinner. Finally, we’ll re-board our bus where a costumed step-on guide will describe traditions past and present as we ride in comfort through the city streets and up to the site of the Christmas Star atop South Mountain.
Cost includes transportation, entrance fees, guided tours, dinner and tips.
Bus leaves Cheltenham High School promptly at 1:30 p.m.