Have you ever wondered what the first Christmas was like — the shepherds, the star, the wise men, the manger?
The real Christmas wasn’t exactly what you see pictured on greeting cards, as you’ll learn if you take a Follow the Shepherd Walk at the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Ga.
Did Mary ride a donkey, even though the couple was so poor they only offered two turtledoves as a sacrifice after Jesus’ birth? Was Christmas in December or was it earlier in the year? And was the inn as the word is translated in the Bible really a hotel in the modern sense?
These are just a few of the questions your guide, dressed as a shepherd, will explore as you walk from house to sheepfold to stable.
Along the walk, you’ll be able to see several life-size recreations of Palestinian artifacts. Stand under a goat-hair tent, walk inside a first century house, turn a donkey millstone and see a well, grape press, Cannaanite altar and Israelite altar, threshing floor, tomb and Roman cross, among other items. The replicas are based on archeological discoveries in the Middle East.
The walks are offered every Friday and Saturday through Christmas. They begin at 6 p.m. and last about 45 minutes. At 7:30 p.m. each night, excluding Christmas Eve, the Christmas Sound and Light Show is shown. It’s a collage of art and nature set to the sounds of classical and holiday music. A screen is set up inside with the same show for those who want to avoid the cold.
Speaking of cold, dress warm. There are log fires throughout the garden, but it gets chilly after dark.
At least one walk follows the show. If you go for the show or the walk, admission to the other activity is included. The cost is $10 per person, with discounts available for children. Active-duty military are free.
For more information about the walks or the center, call 706-885-0363 or visit www.explorationsinantiquity.com. The museum is also open for daytime tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.