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Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Press Kit

MORE THAN 50 GLOBAL CULTURES COME TOGETHER TO COMMEMORATE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD AND HOLIDAYS OF LIGHT EXHIBITS

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago encourages community to gather ‘round to celebrate different cultures and holiday traditions

CHICAGO, Ill. (October 19, 2017)—Feel the warmth of family, friends and tradition at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s (MSI) 75th anniversary of Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Guests are invited to celebrate dozens of holiday customs with trees and displays, including three new additions, decorated to represent cultures from across the globe. This one-of-a-kind celebration returns to MSI November 16, 2017 and will run through January 7, 2018.

Christmas Around the World began in 1942 as a United Nations Day salute to the Allies during World War II. In its first year, a single tree was newly decorated every day for 12 days to represent the countries fighting alongside America during World War II. Today, the exhibit has grown to more than 50 trees and displays, offering insight into the holiday customs celebrated by families around the world.

Now in its 23rd year, Holidays of Light highlights the holidays that honor light or enlightenment with decorated vitrines containing symbolic objects that showcase these celebrations. Holidays of Light focuses on the traditions of the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Visakha Puja Day, and St. Lucia Day. Holidays of Light is located among the trees throughout the Museum’s Main Floor.

At the center of it all stands the 45-foot-tall Grand Tree, adorned with more than 30,000 twinkling lights and ornaments. Guests can also enjoy festive holiday music and “snow” falling every half hour on the Museum’s Main Floor. 

New Trees and Traditions
This year, guests will notice three additional trees in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Christmas Around the World—Assyria, Australia, and Nigeria:

  • Assyria: Assyrians come from modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. The theme of this tree is brotherhood, and is celebrated with decorations that include photos and ornaments that represent khigga, a folk dance in which people form a line by holding hands.
  • Australia: Guests will see home-made paperchains, decorations representing native Australian fauna and flora, and sheep. Plus, several ornaments are created by indigenous Australian artists which reflect the multicultural nature of the country.
  • Nigeria: This tree will include traditional Nigerian holiday decorations, including handmade, multi-colored Nigerian lace fabric and garlands created from black-eyed peas and beaded jewelry, highlighting the rich family customs shared by all Nigerian people at Christmastime.

These trees join the more than 50 trees and displays in the exhibit, inviting guests to celebrate the rich history surrounding the holiday traditions of cultures from nearly every continent.

Festive Performances and Other Holiday Fun

Guests can enjoy lively performances from all corners of the globe during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Local cultural groups will perform native dances in the Museum’s Main Auditorium inside the West Pavilion. Performances will take place on November 18-19, 24-26; December 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17. A full schedule and times will become available at msichicago.org in November.

Stop by Yesterday’s Main Street where Santa will be making special visits during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Children can meet Santa before his epic Christmas journey on November 18-19, 24-26, 30; December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, and 21-23. Guests are also welcome to take photos with our 45-foot-tall Grand Tree.

Don’t forget to make a stop at the Holiday Shop, full of great gifts and festive trinkets for family and friends, including unique ornaments representing cultures around the world and a one-of-a-kind snow globe sold exclusively at MSI.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light are included in Museum Entry, as are all cultural performances.

Christmas Around the World photos are available for download online. Please credit “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.”

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light are sponsored by GATX Corporation.

Press Photos

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Christmas Around the World features a Grand Tree surrounded by more than 50 trees decorated from volunteers from Chicago's ethnic communities.

[J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago]

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More than 50 trees represent traditions from all over the world, including a Native America tree.

[J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago]

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The Holidays of Light displays represent the celebrations that honor light or enlightenment, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Diwali, and more.

[J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago]

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Volunteer groups representing Chicago's diverse communities decorate each tree.

[J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago]

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Guests can enjoy snow falling indoors every half-hour.

[J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago]

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Images presented here are for the express use for promoting the Museum of Science and Industry. All images must be properly credited. Images may not be reproduced by third parties without express written permission from the Museum of Science and Industry.