The Brechet children

The Brechet children with their Christmas in Glencoe, circa 1896.

There’s always something magical about the holiday season in Minnesota. Maybe it’s the snow or the treats we look forward to each year. Or maybe it’s the traditions — some that have been handed down generation after generation.

The Minnesota Historical Society invites the public to learn about what made the holidays special way back when people like Charles Lindbergh and Alexander Ramsey roamed the streets through a series of tours and educational opportunities at various historical sites.

Check out these tours and workshops to learn more about how the holidays were traditionally celebrated throughout Minnesota history:

James J. Hill House: The James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul, will offer guided house tours where visitors can learn about Christmas traditions for the Hill family and their servants. Tours are held Wednesdays-Fridays and Sundays, Nov. 27-Dec. 29. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $8 for ages 5-17 and free for ages 4 and under.

Alexander Ramsey House: Experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a Victoria Christmas in 1875 and discover how the Ramsey family and their friends, neighbors and servants prepared for and celebrated the holiday season at the Alexander Ramsey House, 265 Exchange St., St. Paul during a guided tour. Tours are Thursdays-Sundays, Nov. 29-Dec. 29. During the tours, guests can taste homemade cookies fresh from the wood-burning stove, listen to popular holiday music of the era played on the family’s 1875 Steinway grand piano and view original family ornaments and Christmas gifts. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, veterans and active military members and college students, $8 for ages 5-17 and free for ages 4 and under.

Charles Lindbergh House and Museum: Experience what Christmas was like for the Lindberghs during World War I. Meet costumed interpreters and learn about early 20th century holiday traditions and the challenges wartime presented at the house, 1620 Lindbergh Drive South, Little Falls. Visitors will learn about the impact of food rationing, create a Christmas decoration to take home and write a note or draw a picture for a soldier as Charles Lindbergh might have done. Notes will be distributed to current Minnesota service members at Camp Ripley in time for the holidays. Tours are Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 6-8. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, veterans and active military members and college students and $6 for ages 5-17.

Oliver Kelley Farm: Meet the animals at the Oliver Kelley Farm, 15788 Kelley Farm Road, Elk River, and experience a 19th century Christmas celebration during tours held Dec. 14 and 15. Over this 90-minute guided tour, visitors will walk to the historic Kelley Farm to meet farm animals and explore the historic house. Visitors can discover how farm families and their animals coped with the shorter days and colder temperatures and enjoy snippets of period literature while helping prepare for the upcoming holiday. Tour dates are Dec. 14-15. Tickets are $15.

Mill City Museum: Bake a holiday treat and learn about different holiday traditions in Minneapolis and the people who brought them there in this workshop designed for families at the museum, 204 S. 2nd St. Participants will craft a traditional Swedish recipe and explore holiday traditions from a variety of nationalities through photographs, artifacts, samples and sharing stories. Families will take home recipes and the treats they baked. In addition, each registered family group will receive a Better Batter Bowl as a free gift, courtesy of Nordic Ware. The workshop is for ages 6-14 with an accompanying adult. Adults must be accompanied by a child (limit two children). Dates for the workshop are Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 22. Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors, $23 ages 6-17.

For even more holiday events, visit the MNHS online calendar at


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