By: Megan Filak
The holiday season brings out more than trees, lights and tinsel here in Northeast Pennsylvania. In an area with a proud heritage where family ties run strong, this time of the year brings out traditions that make coming home all the more special.
From November through January those traditions perhaps can best be seen (or smelled) in the area’s kitchens as poppy seed rolls bake, latkes are fried, pizzelle cools and tamales are steamed. Food and fun are staples of the season and the Luzerne County provides plenty of opportunities to find both.
Start the season sipping tea and sampling homemade cookies and other holiday treats in a Victorian country “cottage” at The Lands at Hillside Farms. Travel farther back in time to experience the cooking and customs that took place in the kitchens of Wyoming Valley’s earliest European settlers during the Luzerne County Historical Society’s Festive Traditions at the Swetland Homestead. Keep warm with cocoa and listen to carolers while visiting the homes of former coal miners and their families during Christmas at Eckley Miners' Village.
All throughout the season memories are made as festivals and celebrations bring people together. The family fun kicks off when Santa Claus cruises into town during the Wilkes-Barre Christmas Parade and Tree lighting. On the first night of Hanukkah gather with the community for an outdoor menorah lighting and share a Hanukkah dinner with family and friends at the Friedman Jewish Community Center.
Even finding the perfect present turns memorable in Luzerne County. The weekend after Thanksgiving the Red Cross Craft Show takes over the Kingston Armory with unique and handmade gifts, while the Old Fashion Holiday Market opens for the day on Public Square in Downtown Wilkes-Barre with a live nativity and horse-drawn carriage rides. In Downtown Hazleton a special Holiday Night Market celebrates Christmas in the Caribbean. When you’re shopping is done, sit back and take in the sights and sounds of the season during one of the many performances that grace area stages, both large and small, from the Christmas Carol to The Nutcracker to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
No matter how you celebrate or where you go throughout Luzerne County this holiday season, you can be sure to find the traditions that make this area shine. You can see a whole list of holiday happenings and things to do on the Visit Luzerne County Events Calendar.