Placer museums in Auburn and Penryn exhibit traditions of Christmas past

Published on Nov. 29, 2023


Placer County Museums is decking the halls at four museums in Auburn and one in Penryn with the nostalgic charm of Christmas past, featuring festive exhibits available for viewing until New Year's Day.

Delve into the roots of present-day traditions at the Bernhard Museum in Auburn, and explore practices like baking rings and the placement of coins or thimbles in plum pudding, some of which are no longer observed.

The Gold Rush Museum showcases historical accounts with journal entries and letters from forty-niners on Christmas Day in 1849.

Experience the interpretation of ‘Christmas at the Courthouse’ through exhibits at the Placer County Museum in the Historic Courthouse in Auburn. Replicas of Christmas and New Year’s cards adorn the foyer tree, while the Sheriff’s Office displays newspaper clippings illustrating acts of kindness by Sheriffs George McAulay and Elmer Gum towards Placer County jail inmates on Christmas Day.

The treasury, located inside the courthouse and home to the gold collection, features a display of Christmas trees and a special case featuring toys delivered by Santa Claus.

The DeWitt History Museum in North Auburn presents exhibits on 'Holidays on the Homefront,' showcasing photographs taken during various Christmas parties at the hospital during wartime.

Journey to the Griffith Quarry Museum in Penryn to discover the unique traditions of a Cornish Christmas.

For a family-friendly experience, the Placer County, Bernhard and Gold Rush museums offer kids' scavenger hunts. Complete the search for hidden cards, and children receive a sweet treat.

Entrance to all museums in the Placer County system is free. For detailed information on days and hours of operation, please visit the Placer County Museums Division website at