Gallery: Experience the Holiday Splendor of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms

  • Three tinsel trees on top of a carpet
    In one recent year, the African Heritage Committee used décor that highlighted the scholars who have studied abroad, under the Committee’s scholarships. The names of the scholarship recipients are highlighted under the glittering trees in the African Heritage Room. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A Christmas tree with crosses in a corner
    People in Armenia, the oldest Christian country in the world, celebrate Christmas on January 6. Pitt’s Armenian Room, the only all-stone Nationality Room, was dedicated in 1988. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Sheet music for "Silent Night"
    In the Austrian Nationality Room, a music sheet of “Silent Night, Holy Night” tells the story of how the symbolic melody was born on Christmas Eve in 1878 in a small village near Salzburg. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Red Chinese decorations hanging on a wall
    The Chinese Nationality Room celebrates the Lunar New Year. Inside the room, rich with golden details, laughing lions guard the door to symbolize good fortune. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A nativity scene
    This intricately detailed nativity set is featured in the Czechoslovak Nationality Room; another is displayed in the Italian Room around the corner. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A room with two chairs against a wall and a long table in the center
    The Early American Room fits two levels into its space but is accessible only with a guide—who can not only show visitors its secrets, but also share stories of the room's purported spirited inhabitants. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A Christmas wreath hanging on a window
    This wreath is hung in the English Room—whose tree is the largest of those decorated and on display during the holiday season. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A model of the Eiffel Tower on top of a Christmas tree
    A gilded Eiffel Tower tops the tree in the French Nationality Room, celebrating a Joyeux Noel. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A wreath hangs around a light on the ceiling
    In Germany, the holiday season generally begins on Dec. 5, when Saint Nicholas and Krampus visit. Wreaths, angels and gluehwein (a mulled, spiced wine) are among other traditions enjoyed throughout the season. The German Room was dedicated in 1938. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • An icon sits on a windowsill underneath a wreath
    Iconography is common in the Greek Orthodox Christian tradition; these are just some featured in the Greek Nationality Room. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A chair with an intricate carving on the back rest
    Boldog Karácsonyt! Or, Merry Christmas in Hungarian! Chairs in the Hungarian Room are decorated with carved tulips, representing the national flower of Hungary. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • An orange, green, red and white wreath on an iron gate
    The Indian Room has followed the traditional custom of decorating with multi-colored garlands, twinkling lights, bright paper stars and streamers. Many of the ornaments and other decorations are handmade. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A red and green fabric sign with Scripture written on it
    Among the decorative archways in the Irish Room, visitors will find this sign adorned with the angelic words delivered to the shepherds in Luke's gospel. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A menorah next to a dreidel
    In the Israel Heritage Room, a menorah and dreidels add a festive touch in honoring Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A nativity scene in front of a red couch
    In the Italian Room, you won't find a Christmas tree. This Nationality Room displays a nativity scene in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who first adopted the tradition. (Monica Maschak/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A wooden room with desks and chairs
    Items on display in the Japanese Room are rotated seasonally, featuring elaborate badminton paddles in the case, as it's common for families to play a rousing game to celebrate the new year. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A piece of paper with board game pieces on top
    In Korea, many play the traditional board game Yut Nori to celebrate Seollal, the first day of the Korean Lunar New Year. This game can be found in the Korean Heritage Room. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • White star-shaped ornaments on a tree
    In the Lithuanian Room, geometric ornaments made of drinking straws adorn the tree, a tradition started by Lithuanian Americans. According to custom, many also enjoy smoked herring on Christmas Eve. (Monica Maschak/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A straw figure with a small wreath on the front
    According to Norwegian folklore, on Christmas Eve a bowl of porridge was left out in the barn for the elves to enjoy and many trees were decorated with straw figures. Here's how the Norwegian Room pays homage to that tradition. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Two brown trees with a wreath in between them
    A star-shaped parol lantern made of capiz (center), adorns the Philippine Room, emanating a warm tropical glow of red, orange, yellow and blue. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Small light colored ornaments with a tree in the background
    The Polish Room features dozynki, colorful harvest wreaths embellished with flowers and stars that are hung from the ceiling. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A tree draped in ornaments including red bows and white crosses
    In Romania, holiday festivities can last into early January, but the tree is generally decorated on Christmas Eve in anticipation of a visit from Santa, whom many call "Old Man Christmas." The Romanian Room was dedicated in 1943. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • Wooden chairs around a rectangular table by wreath-decorated windows
    Because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on January 7. The New Year is not only celebrated more grandly but also twice: first on January 1 and then on January 14. The Russian Room was dedicated in 1938. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A plaid bow on a mantle covered with green
    On the fireplace mantle inside the Scottish Room, guests will see a portrait of Robert Burns—widely remembered as being "a poet of the people." (Monica Maschak/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A doll in white next to green decorated trees
    The Swedish Room features a porcelain doll wearing a St. Lucia crown. The room's design is reminiscent of a country cottage. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A gold colored round ornament on a tree
    An ornament hangs from a tree in the Swiss Room, which was designed with inspiration from the 16th century. The room’s ceiling has a design that pays homage to nature. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A tea set on a round table in front of cushioned seats
    Tea sets like this one found in the Syrian Room are common in Syrian celebrations of Christmas, which take place on December 6. In January, Syrian tradition holds that the smallest camel of the Wise Men brings children gifts. (Don Henderson/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A brown and red room with wooden seats along the walls
    During this time of year, Turkey does not have a holiday that is officially observed or recognized. For this reason, the Turkish Nationality Room Committee chooses not to decorate their space for the holiday season. (University of Pittsburgh)
  • A loaf of bread beneath a brown ornament
    A loaf of kolach, or Ukrainian holiday bread, is on display in the Ukrainian Room to symbolize the culture's Christmas tradition. (Aime Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A green wreath with pinecones along a blue wall
    While its origins are not uniquely Welsh, passing the wassail bowl—often filled with sugar, spices and warm beer—is among the country's Christmas traditions. The Welsh Room was dedicated in 2008. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)
  • A tree with red ornaments in front of a classroom
    The Yugoslav Room features a tree decorated with walnuts, pinecones and ornaments depicting bells and lily of the valley—the country's flower. (Aimee Obidzinski/University of Pittsburgh)

Pitt’s 31 iconic Nationality Rooms are usually decked in holiday splendor this time of year, attracting thousands of visitors. Since the pandemic prevents an in-person Holiday Open House this year, Pittwire invites you to enjoy this gallery of past years’ decorations, all based on the individual rooms’ ethnic heritage.

And if you still want more, this year’s Virtual Holiday Open House offers close to 100 videos prepared by each room’s committee. Several new videos will be added each day to the Pitt Global Hub website. They represent a wide array of international performances, folklore, lace-making, music, cooking demos and much more. Enjoy!

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