Winter Wonderland: Illuminating Traditions

In 2020, since we couldn’t safely hold our annual Winter Wonderland celebration in person, we decided to bring the holidays to you! Each week for seven weeks we featured an educational video and craft on a different holiday or tradition that features light. Additionally, we created stories and crafts on the same traditions for younger kiddos. Preschoolers can follow along with those through our Drop in Art, Jr. series.

For a complete supply list for all the crafts click here.

Week 1: Diwali

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists around the world–including right here on the Eastern Shore! Learn how this festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, through local families interviewed as part of the Ward Museum’s Lower Shore Traditions folklife program.Thank you to our community partners and sponsors!

Week 1 Craft: Rangoli

After watching the video on Diwali try your hand at making your own beautiful rangoli pattern! Rangoli are images made from rice, rice powder, or grains–often during the festival of lights, Diwali. You can see two examples in the video here.

Week 2: Advent (Christmas)

Many Christians around the world, including on Delmarva, celebrate the season of Advent–the four Sundays leading to Christmas (December 25)–by lighting purple and pink candles. These candles bring light to the darkness, and signal a time when the days will begin to grow longer. Learn about Advent from Father Chris LaBarge of the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Salisbury, MD.

Week 2 Craft: Advent Wreath

After watching the video on Advent above, try your hand at making your own beautiful Advent wreath! The making and display of these wreaths is a tradition that symbolize the passage of the four weeks of Advent, in the build up to Christmas. Consisting of four distinct candles, they represent hope, faith, peace, and joy.

Week 3: Hanukkah

For week 3 we’re learning about Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the eight-day, wintertime festival celebrated by Jews around the world – by lighting candles in a menorah, saying special prayers, and eating special foods. Learn more about this “festival of lights” from Rabbi Estelle Mills of Temple Bat Yam in Berlin, MD. 

Week 3 Craft: Dreidel

After watching the Winter Wonderland Hanukkah video above, follow along with Madison to make your own dreidel! Then, try playing the dreidel game; you can find rules here:…

Week 4: Light Displays (Christmas)

From candles on trees, to LED lights strung around homes, lights of all sorts have long been a favorite way to usher in the warmth and joy of the Christmas season. So for week 4 of our “Winter Wonderland: Illuminating Traditions” series, we will look at some of your favorite Christmas light displays around the Eastern Shore. Every year, people and go to great lengths to put on these truly spectacular displays of Christmas cheer. So join us as we visit and learn a bit about Ocean City’s Winterfest of Lights; the City of Salisbury’s Christmas tree, lit during 3rd Friday; and Winter Wonderland on Morris Rd – a private residence in Pittsville, MD, that attracts thousands every year.

Week 4 Craft: Light Up Christmas Card

After watching the Winter Wonderland Christmas lights video above, follow along with Madison to make your own light-up Christmas card! Along the way you’ll learn all about how to create a circuit from a battery, copper tape, lights, and creativity! Don’t forget to be creative and send us photos of your design! We will be picking best design for a special prize as well as our weekly raffle on December 14, 2020! Send us your photos to @WardMuseum on Social or email

Week 5: Yule

Yule is a Pagan festival celebrated by millions each year, on the Winter Solstice. It is a time to mourn and release that which weighs you down, and to welcome the return of light. In this episode of Winter Wonderland: Illuminating Traditions, we meet Jim Dickinson, High Priest of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel in Georgetown, DE. Jim walks us through Yule rituals, and explains the importance of these winter traditions to celebrants.

Week 5 Craft: Yule Garland

After watching the Winter Wonderland Yule video above, follow along with Madison to make two unique Yule crafts! You’ll make strands of popcorn garland, and dried apple tree ornaments. Throughout the video, Madison will share with you how these crafts relate to Yule, and how these special tree decorations are actually good for the animals in the cold of winter. Send us your photos to @WardMuseum on Social or email

Week 6: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa began as a way to celebrate and support African American culture and heritage. It lasts from December 26 – January 1, and is based on understanding and living out seven principles, or nguzu saba. They’re usually named in Swahili: umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (Creativity), and imani (faith). These principles are celebrated by lighting candles, coming together for food and festivity, and giving hand-made gifts. Learn more about Kwanzaa from Demetria and Matthew Leonard, of the Salisbury (MD) Kwanzaa Club.

Week 6 Craft: Kwanzaa Mkeka Mat

After watching the Winter Wonderland video on Kwanzaa, above, follow along with Madison to make a mkeka – a traditional mat used in the celebration! You’ll weave together pieces of black, red, and green felt to make your own mkeka as you learn about the 7 principles of Kwanzaa.

Week 7: Tres Reyes Magos (Christmas)

Tres Reyes Magos–the three wise men, or three kings–celebrates the day (January 6) that three magi were said to visit the baby Jesus after his birth on Christmas (December 25). They were guided by a massive star that, to them, foretold the coming of a new king. In this, our final installation of the “Winter Wonderland: Illuminating Traditions” series, learn about the tres reyes magos story, and related Mexican and Panamanian traditions, through the Eastern Shore’s own Mario Ramirez Castelo and Ismelda Newcomb. Many of these traditions are celebrated throughout Latin America and Spain, and right here in the U.S.

Week 7 Craft: Star of Bethlehem

After watching the Winter Wonderland video on Tres Reyes Magos above follow along with Madison to make the Star of Bethlehem! You’ll attach coffee stirrers together in the shape of a star and weave straw around the star in a decorative pattern.

Winter Wonderland: Illuminating Traditions is supported in part by grants from Chesapeake Utilities, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Maryland Traditions, and the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation. Thank you!