Displaying Christmas from around the world


Gregory D. Cook

A Christmas tree decorated with Chinese ornaments represents one of the 40 countries on display.

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

Experience Christmas from all over the world and learn how Christmas customs from 40 other countries have been woven into American culture to make Christmas in the United States what it is today.

Christmas Around the World opened Nov. 25 and will run until Dec. 30 on the second floor of Timeless Furnishings located downtown at 1918 Chester Ave.

Sherrie Lewis along with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter started this event four years ago to educate people on how traditions from different cultures have come together in America to create our own holiday traditions.

“What we do here is have tours, but people can go through on their own,” said Lewis.

The tour starts with a display about Germany, which has 800 nutcrackers, and goes around the world from Japan to France and ends with the Czech Republic.

There are storyboards explaining the legacy of Christmas within each country of the tour and each country displays décor that represents their Christmas heritage.

Lewis said in Belgium they decorate their trees with chocolate, lace and fruit, key items that represent some of Belgium’s biggest markets.

The displays show the different aspects of Christmas celebrations around the world.

“Africa gets up early to watch the sun rise,” she said.

The Ireland display tells the story of how “The Twelve Days of Christmas” came to be and explains how each symbol of the 12 symbols represent a spiritual being.

There’s an art gallery that features a Christmas tree decorated entirely with ornaments made from paper nativity scenes and also has hundreds of framed Christmas cards depicting nativity scenes. There was a sign that read: “paper nativities were once known as the nativities of the poor.”

Lewis and her family spent countless hours getting everything set up.

The night before her interview she said they stayed until 3 a.m. decorating and getting everything just right. “A few of our friends have stopped by and volunteered,” she said.

Lewis does all the research and said she shops “all year long at yard sales and estate sales for the decorations.”

They utilize the information the Internet has to offer, read books, as well as conduct interviews with people from other countries to get a firsthand account of how Christmas is celebrated abroad. “We want to be accurate,” said Lewis.

It’s not just about lights, trees and decorations. It’s about educating adults and children alike about where the legacy of Christmas came from and how all aspects of Christmas in the United States really represent the melting pot that we are. We pull traditions from other countries and meld them together and make them our own.

“It’s a cultural event. It’s worth people’s time. It’s fun,” Lewis said.

All around the world people are celebrating Christmas their own way and Lewis and her family plan to show Bakersfield that Christmas is just another common interest.

“There’s a very beautiful spirit about it,” said Lewis.

Christmas Around the World is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tickets are $8 per person, $7 for seniors, $20 for a family of four, and children five and under are free.

For information, contact Sherrie Lewis at 661-747-4316.