The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Beidler House colonial candlelight reception highlights Twelfth Night traditions


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sometimes postponing an event makes for an even better event down the road. Case in point – the German colonial candlelight holiday reception at the Beidler House has been reconfigured to highlight the Twelfth Night traditions and has been rescheduled for Sunday, Jan. 5, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Our annual event has always highlighted the rich German heritage of the area in a setting that offers a living history perspective on colonial-era German-based holiday celebrations. There will be musicians, German holiday delicacies and decorations of traditional fresh greens.
This year our rescheduled event, coming near the end of the Yuletide season, honors the Twelfth Night traditions and its attendant revelries heralding in the New Year.
Twelfth Night is an ancient celebration. Thought to originate in early Anglo-Saxon traditions, it evolved to mark the coming of the Epiphany, and the conclusion of the 12 days of Christmas. It is known as a time of great merrymaking and song. We’ll be marrying this celebration with the traditional Beidler celebration of the season.
In 1783 the Christmastide season at Conrad Beidler’s house featured all the joyous celebrations of the Germans in Pennsylvania. Music and dancing, harpsichord and other instruments, delicious pastries and libations, along with the good cheer of the season, were all an important part of the season’s celebration. The rooms and halls were festooned with decorations of beautiful fresh greens collected from nature’s bounty. In the center of it all, in the formal parlor, was the traditional cedar tree decorated with fancifully shaped cookies, candles, nuts, sweetmeats, and other hand-fashioned ornaments.
Join in the reenactment of this charming holiday celebration by this early Berks County family. Jim Beidler, a direct descendant of Conrad Beidler, will be present as the genial and hospitable host. Lovely instrumental music and period vocal soloists will accompany the Amity Colonial Dancers as they glide through traditional dances of the era at 1:30PM and 3:30 PM. Also enjoy a fashion show featuring styles of the 18th century at 2:15PM and 4:15 PM. Enjoy the scent of fresh greens and other seasonal decorations throughout the house, and savor sweet delicacies such as stollen, traditional cookies, and warm mulled cider. Experience the magic of this historic house as dusk falls and the candles are lit.
The Beidler House and Mill, located at the Allegheny Aqueduct Historical Park in Gibraltar, is one of the earliest industrial sites in Berks County. As early as 1735, there was a commercial saw mill on the property. In the early 1760s Conrad Beidler acquired the site, and built a merchant grist mill. Both the saw mill and grist mill prospered, and in 1783 Conrad built his beautiful Georgian style house of local cut sandstone.
The program is presented by the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department. For more information or directions, call 610-374-8839 or visit our website www.countyofberks.com/parks. The property is part of the Allegheny Aqueduct Historical Park in Gibraltar, located on Old River Road, just off Route 724.