The Season of Christmas
There may not be a more beautiful time of year than that first December snow.
With snowflakes lightly trickling down, breaths of warm air greeting the cold, and layers of fresh powder coating the pavement to create the illusion of uncharted territory, there’s nothing quite like the first glimpse of true winter.
With winter comes holiday shopping, quality family time, and the usual hustle and bustle of Christmas-time traffic. The December rush often finds us scrambling to get everything in order—from holiday meals to travel plans—but we can’t forget to take a minute to stop and enjoy the beauty of wintertime amidst the swirling chaos around us.
Picture this: Driving down the road with close friends or family, safely bundled up and ready to brave the cold, stepping out of your vehicle to see the soft glow of candlelight dancing across the needles of trees, splashing light in the world around you. To your left, Christmas lights illuminate every fine detail in the stained glass of your local church. To your right, groups of people are laughing and taking pictures, soaking in the season with the people they care about most.
Holiday tours to view the splendor of Christmas have been an important pillar of winter in communities across the world for hundreds of years, and Frederick County is no different. Big cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia all offer tons to see each day leading up to Christmas. Fortunately for us, we have a few great options to explore right at home.
Rocky Ridge Holiday House Tour
Walk through true home-town Christmas splendor in seven homes, ranging from historical to new, during the Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Department’s (RRVFD) Holiday House Tour. A fundraiser for the RRVFD, people are really enthusiastic about being a part of the event. A craft and food fair in the Rocky Ridge VFD activities building will take place at the same time the house tour is taking place.
Candlelight Tours Christmas Past
The Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg puts together 1,000 luminaries, sure to light up the night in a way you may not have seen before. This guided tour allows visitors to see where Elizabeth Ann Seton lived and worked, along with stories of her efforts, kindness, and her life, all through the glow of candlelight under the night sky.
Mother Seton’s work in Emmitsburg and in the Catholic church was instrumental in providing avenues for sisters of the church to practice religion in the United States, and the candlelight tour is sure to shed more light on her legacy.
Emmitsburg Christmas Church Tour
Visit eight churches in Emmitsburg to see them decked out for the holidays. This guided tour will start at St. Anthony’s Church and move to another church every half hour, where a presentation is planned. Visit all or visit one or two, but don’t miss the last church visited, Trinity United Methodist Church, where a supper will be held for everyone.
Frederick Candlelight House Tour
The city of Frederick has run candlelight tours through private homes over 30 years, and there is a tremendous amount of rich history to gather on just about every block. These self-guided tours give locals a chance to see and appreciate the lights, decorations, and a holiday spirit that makes this time of year so special.
A candlelight tour is a perfect weekend activity, sure to put a smile on the face of every person participating. You can get your holiday fill the first weekend in December, with tours kicking off December 7.
Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination—Sharpsburg
Over 157 years ago, the Battle of Antietam claimed the lives of nearly 23,000 men in one of the deadliest battles in the Civil War, and the bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history. Since, we have recognized and honored those who gave their lives in various ways, including Sharpsburg’s lighting of 23,000 luminaries across the battlefield to symbolize the casualties.
This driving tour is a five-mile trek through monuments and rolling hills, with each light guiding the way, offering a sobering look at what is a near-inconceivable amount of lives lost. This once-a-year event is set for December 7 and is sure to be not only a gorgeous journey, but also a true dose of historic perspective.
Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship
Frederick hosts its 33rd annual church tour the day after Christmas, giving guests 11 stops to witness the beautifully historic architecture, and to hear the bells, choirs, and holiday music to close out 2019 with a bang. Several stops serve refreshments, so if you enjoy a cup of cider to go with your Christmas songs, this candlelight tour might just be for you.
Museums by Candlelight
Arts, entertainment, and a whole lot of candlelight highlight the itinerary for Frederick’s Museums by Candlelight. Many of these tours provide refreshments and activities for kids, while still providing the opportunity to focus on the history embedded in Frederick County.
Of course, with any proper holiday gathering, music is a big part of what makes these tours so great. Make plans soon, though, as this event is held just once a year. This December’s Museums by Candlelight is held December 14.
There are countless ways to liven up your holiday season, and no right or wrong way to go about it. A cup of cider by the fire is a good start, but a trip through time learning about what history your local community has to offer by candlelight is an even better way to kick off the Christmas countdown.
These tours and gatherings bring people together, and in the spirit of the holidays, joining your neighbors and friends for a night out can help to build lifelong relationships. So, if you are struggling to find something fun and unique to do this December, consider spending a night by the candlelight, and take in all that your local area has to offer.
One of the beautiful homes featured in the Rocky Ridge Holiday House Tour.