Christmas in Nauvoo commemorated with Education in Zion exhibit

Attendees sing “Silent Night” at the Christmas in Nauvoo event hosted by the Education in Zion gallery. The Family Home Evening event is held yearly at the beginning of December. (Makenzie Gudmundson)

Christmas in Nauvoo, a yearly Family Home Evening event hosted by the Education in Zion gallery, was held Monday, Dec. 4. Attendees celebrated Christmas through singing, dancing, crafts and games that would have been familiar to early Saints celebrating Christmas in Nauvoo.

The evening’s program began with singing Christmas hymns and a lesson in historically accurate line dancing by employees of the gallery. The music was chosen for its historical accuracy.

Other activities included making small ribbon-and-twig Christmas trees, creating scrap cloth angels and dolls and participating in pioneer games.

Because the early Saints had to make do with limited resources, the event featured simple crafts and games similar to the ones early Saints would have participated in around the Christmas season.

Stories of food enjoyed at Christmastime by the early Saints, as curated by the Education in Zion gallery. The posters will remain up until the end of finals week. (Makenzie Gudmundson)

“I love how crafty they were with their gifts. They didn’t have a lot, but they still cherished each other and wanted to show each other through gifts. Not forgetting the importance of handmade gifts and things that come from the heart,” Natalie Rasmussen, student supervisor at the Education in Zion gallery and art history major, said.

Rasmussen said the event has been happening for years.

“The idea of Christmas in Nauvoo came from that interest in history and the early Saints,” Rasmussen said.

Stories of the early Saints and their Christmas traditions were displayed on posters along the gallery wall.

Heather Seferovich, curator at the Education in Zion gallery, said the event has gone through many iterations since it began in 2010.

“The pioneer games are always fun,” Seferovich said. “The early pioneers valued manual dexterity since they were laborers by and large, so we have some fun replica pioneer games.”

Lincoln Pedersen, a student who attended the event with his family home evening group, said he was there for the Christmas spirit.

“My FHE group decided it would be fun to do some Christmas activities”, Pedersen said.

He said his favorite game was the bean-bag-catch game.

The available pioneer games included paddleball, dominoes, bean-bag games and more.

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