The annual run-up to Christmas is so active (often too active) that when it’s over, a post-holiday slump can set in. With no more gifts to open, a Christmas roast devolving into leftovers, and a tree that’s shedding needles by the hour, it’s easy to think: Is that all there is?
But the seasonal opportunities in nearby Lancaster County keep with the once-common view of Christmas: not as the end of a reason to celebrate but as the beginning of one.
The Discover Lancaster call to hop in the car, take a short drive, and dive into a Yuletide experience — perhaps as a repeat, perhaps for the first time — is an excellent way to spend the balance of 2022’s vacation days from work or school.
The Historic Ephrata Cloister, for example, offers unforgettable lantern tours.
Not only is the setting unique (the sharp crispness of a late-Dec. evening) and the lighting quaintly retro (lanterns, of course), the walking excursions have been overlaid with an evolving storyline.
Guests will find themselves in the thick of a significant, impending event: an onsite wedding.
The tour quickly involves them in the preparations of wedding planner “Frau Fahnestock.”
As she readies every element with exacting detail, she also relates the site’s historic past as a 1700s monastic community.
Her tale blends the community’s religious heritage with plenty of detail and humor.
Her saga, enacted by a talented cast of trained high-school performers, involves tour participants in creating Fraktur artwork (a highly embellished lettering tradition), tailoring a suit for the groom, and crafting the best possible wedding cake.
The Historic Ephrata Cloister lantern tours are Dec. 27–30. They run every half hour from 6:00–8:30 PM onsite at 632 W. Main St., Ephrata. Advance tickets are required and can be obtained online or by calling 717.733.6600.
An 18th Century Yuletide
After a two-year COVID-necessitated revision (scaled back for safety), the 18th Century Yuletide Tours at Historic Rock Ford are back in all their in-person glory.
Like the Cloister’s lantern tours, a plotline has been interwoven in Rock Ford’s Yuletide tours.
Estate owners General Edward Hand and his wife Katherine are hosting their annual Twelfth Night Ball.
Twelfth Night is a fifth-century Christian holiday to mark the coming of Epiphany, the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. It’s also the source of the carol The 12 Days of Christmas.
The Rock Ford presentation for 2022 brings back some of its live performers. The Warm Hearth Committee will be demonstrating 18th century cooking over the fire in the mansion’s kitchen, and the Historic Rock Ford Dance Committee will be performing period dances in the hallway. New this year is live traditional music by a harpsichordist and violinist.
But other elements are being retained from the pandemic version, kept for their effectiveness in making the story more compelling.
Edward Hand, for example, will engage attendees’ imaginations as he’s presented in a recorded voiceover. He’ll narrate his Dec. 1776 memories of crossing the Delaware with Gen. George Washington to attack the Hessians in Trenton.
Historic Rock Ford is at 881 Rockford Rd., Lancaster. Its Dec. 27–29 experience has limited guest capacities; therefore, advance ticket purchases are strongly advised. Tour times vary by date.
Warding off a post-holiday slump is even easier when spending a night or two away from home. The Discover Lancaster website has great accommodations of all types to fit visitor needs.