Eighty years ago this month, (1942), World War II was raging across Europe and Asia. Back home in Chicago, to honor the brave spirit of soldiers ‘across the pond,’ at Hyde Park’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, curators decorated a single tree with ornaments representing celebrations around the world. The tree was newly decorated every day for 12 days to represent the countries fighting alongside America during World War II.
It was a unifying gesture during a time when nations were divided, and the exhibit proved popular enough to return year after year.
Today, ‘Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibit,‘ features more than 50 trees highlighting a variety of countries and cultures, offering insight into the holiday customs celebrated by families around the world. These trees and displays are decorated by volunteers from around the Chicagoland area to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe.
According to MSI’s website, the centerpiece surrounded by this dazzling display is the four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree in the Museum’s Rotunda. You and your family can also explore Holidays of Light, a celebration of global holidays throughout the year that honor light and enlightenment.
“What makes it so special, is it brings different communities together to actually celebrate holidays and actually be able to understand how each culture celebrates their holidays,” said Chevy Humphrey, MSI President and CEO, to ABC7Chicago at its opening last week.
For its 80th Anniversary, museum visitors, young and old, will experience a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree surrounded by more than 50 other trees and displays. Each surrounding tree is decorated to represent holiday traditions in other cultures around the world. Holidays of Light celebrates holidays and cultures that use light, like Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Saint Lucia Day.
“Perhaps most notable is the grand 45-foot tall tree with more than 45,000 lights!” wrote Kidlista fewyearsago. “While observing the tree on the main floor, guests can be a part of a “snowfall” that takes place every 30 minutes during the holiday season. It’s especially exciting for little kids, so be sure not to miss it! My kids loved seeing the pretend snow falling from the ceiling and it created a magical ambiance for them.”
For the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the museum will host special hours. Closed on Thanksgiving, they will reopen on Friday, November 25 – Sunday, November 27 from 9:30 am–5:30pm.
For the rest of the holiday season, they’re open 9:30am-4pm daily through January 4, 2023. ‘Christmas Around the World’ is free with museum admission; $21.95/ages 12-plus, $12.95/ages 3-11, free/2 and under. To purchase tickets and learn more, click here.
Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season to all! At Dean’s Team Chicago, we’re thankful for you!!
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago