• Swedish American Museum Center
5211 N Clark St., Chicago
• Polish Museum of America
984 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
• Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Travel around the world this Christmas season via the vibrant and diverse museums of Chicago.
Start your journey in Sweden at the heartwarming Santa Lucia procession, sponsored by the Swedish American Museum on Saturday, Dec. 13. The longest day of the year is celebrated with a procession honoring the eponymous saint. Legend has it that not even the lack of eyes could stop Saint Lucy from seeing—and the white candles carried by the procession of children symbolize the fire she resisted when sentenced to be burned. The program begins at 4:45 p.m. at the museum and returns for a 5 p.m. ending ceremony. Be sure to stop at the Swedish Bakery (5348 North Clark St.; 773-561-8919), where you’ll find a fine selection of butter cookies (perfect with hot cocoa).
The Polish American Museum of Chicago offers several programs on traditional Polish Christmas customs. On Sunday, Nov. 16, instructors Maria Grzadziel and Stasia Gasior will teach children and adults how to make Polish Christmas ornaments during the annual Christmas Ornament Workshop from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The annual Wigilia (Christmas Eve Meatless Meal) takes place Friday, Dec. 5. St. Nicholas will visit and the evening will end with Polish and English Christmas carols.
This year, the Museum of Science and Industry celebrates its 60th year of Christmas Around the World, a commemoration that began as a United Nations’ salute to American Allies during World War II. Nearly 50 trees and crèches are on view, each festooned with traditional ornaments and decorations by members of Chicago’s cultural communities. The Holidays of Light exhibit features traditions that celebrate light: Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Visakha Puja Day. Check the museum’s Web site for special programs, including performances by the Royal Scottish Dance Society and the Orpheus Dance Troupe from Greece.