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Craft in America: Holiday

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 9:04am -- WCVE

“Holiday” celebrates some of our most important traditions. Nordic folk woodcarver Harley Refsal brings to life the rich history of winter solstice. Clay artist Susan Garson creates fanciful Chanukah menorahs. George Vanderbilt’s opulent turn-of-the-century Christmas is recreated at the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. Daring chefs make lavish gingerbread houses for the competition at Grove Park Inn. Navidad is celebrated in San Antonio with religious processions, tamales and Kathleen Trenchard’s sparkling luminarias. Garcia Art Glass makes colorful ornaments, and Veronica Castillo creates a traditional Mexican Tree of Life.

Watch Craft in America: Holiday December 20 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS.

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Meet Harley Refsal, the acclaimed wood carver and Nordic folk artisan at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. "Many holiday traditions, Christian and non-Christian, come from the winter solstice which was a pagan holiday that marked the start of the solar year and celebrated light and the rebirth of the sun. Santa, the Christmas tree, gifts and special meals all had their beginnings in the winter solstice."

Next, watch the annual National Gingerbread House Competition held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Hundreds of extraordinary entries from across the country are proudly displayed. Watch the excitement build among the competitors and judges leading up to the announcement of the grand prize winner.

The Biltmore House, a magnificent estate with 250 rooms and 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the largest privately owned home in the United States. Built by George Vanderbilt and first opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve in 1895, the grand home is adorned with decorations and mementos that hint at timeless holidays of a glorious bygone age.

In Colorado, artist Susan Garson hand paints fanciful designs on menorahs that she forms from clay. Susan takes us to her congregation for a special Chanukah celebration that includes lighting candles, singing songs, and playing Dreidel, a game of chance.

In San Antonio, Texas, the colorful, creative Mexican influence is particularly evident at Christmas when the city sparkles with 150,000 lights on the River Walk. Follow hundreds of people in the Gran Posada procession as they sing and light candles, walking through the downtown streets, uniting the community through story and song. Garcia Art Glass is an internationally acclaimed glass studio. Watch a magical transformation as master glass blowers Dora Garcia and Gerardo Muñoz coax molten glass into wildly colorful ornaments. To further highlight the Mexican influence on San Antonio's holiday celebrations, ceramic artist Veronica Castillo creates a vibrant Navidad Tree of Life. Meet Isabel and Enrique Sanchez who will show us how they make traditional tamales for the holidays. And finally, Kathleen Trenchard walks us through the steps to make luminarias which when lit, create sparkling illuminations and a festive holiday ambiance.