Twelve decorated trees, dreidels, African dance and Andean folk music mingle around town as the Smithsonian pulls out all the stops for the holidays.
Festivities include a South American Christmas at the Museum of Natural History, various Christmas, Hanukah and New Year's activities at the Museum of American History, and a week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, the African-American celebration of thanksgiving, at the Museum of African Art. In all, the Institution will be full of "ethnically diverse" good cheer. MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY -- Six days of celebrations, this Friday through Wednesday, focus on the theme of Christmas in the Victorian era (1840-1900), with help from the Mummers of Philadelphia, an actor portraying Charles Dickens, Renaissance dance and music, carol sing-alongs, children's choir, wanderingjugglers, handbell ringers, barbership quartets, Christmas cards and Santa Claus. Hanukah will be represented, too, with Lisi's Bubbatron Theatre of Toronto performing Jewish folklore tales with life-sized puppets, and Fabrangen Fiddlers playing Jewish folk music.
Edible craft demos include making Christmas and Hanukah cookies, marzipan and latkes.
Environmentalists' note: the 12 "Trees of Christmas" are living and will be planted outdoors after the holidays. International hand-craftsmanship is a theme of the ornaments: bread dough, origami, calico, handpainted porcelain and decopage are among the decorations. At 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY -- "South American Christmas" features traditional Andean folk songs and craft demonstrations, this Friday and Saturday from noon to 4. Performances by local musicians, Rumi Sonko, will use a variety of traditional instruments. Christmas craftworks include Mexican pinatas and South American nacimientos (nativity figures). At 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, third floor. MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART -- Kwanzaa (Swahili for ("first") is observed this Friday through Thursday, celebrating the fruits of the year's labor, and to set goals for the coming year. Friday at 2, candle lighting ceremony and libation, bring fruit to share; at 3, performance of the music of Ghana. Saturday at 8, performance of music and dance of Nigeria. Sunday, highlight tours of the current exhibitions featuring Mali, Guinea, Angola, Gabon and Cameroon. At 316-332 A Street NE.