MSU museum displays Christmas traditions from across the world

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—If you’re a history buff and love Christmas then its time for you to check out a very special collection at Michigan State University’s museum.

The “Val R. Berryman Christmas Traditions Collection” has 5,000 artifacts related to Christmas customs that are celebrated worldwide. The oldest piece in this collection is from 1854.

“It’s fun to see the cultural diversity of Christmas customs,” said Lynne Swanson, The Cultural Collections Manager at Michigan State University.

Swanson loves showing people the “Val R. Berryman Christmas Traditions Collection.”

She says it brings so much insight ​into unique Christmas customs.

“It covers many countries and many cultures. Europe, North and South America and even Asia, and even Africa,” Swanson said.

The collection was compiled by Val Berryman who was MSU’s curator of history for 50 years. When he passed away, the collection was gifted to MSU’s museum. It’s been used in many exhibitions, and it’s available on loan to other museums

“It is massive. There are cases that line an entire wall, and you really don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Berkley Sorrells, a student research assistant at MSU.

Sorrells writes online collection spotlights for the MSU Museum.

“While there are so many classic depictions of Santa Claus [that are] challenging the ideas of what we see as traditional Christmas materials and what that can look like around the world was something that was really important to me,” Sorrells said.

Some objects include Krampus figures that are famous around central Europe. Krampus is known for traveling with St. Nick and disciplining naughty kids, and it features Father Frost who is a famous Santa figure from Russia.

“I really value this collection because of the amazing diversity in the age of the pieces,” Swanson said, “the way we put stockings out on Christmas Eve in the Netherlands, they use their shoe they put that out to be filled with candy and treats.”

The collection is available for people to see all year long, only an appointment should be scheduled prior to visitation.

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