Last year before the unexpected early birth of my daughter, I had been reading a book entitled Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines compiled by Dulcie M. Ashdown. The Victorians essentially created Christmas as we know the holiday today. The notion of the traditional Christmas, from the Christmas tree to the food served at Christmas dinner, that many of us still nostalgically long for today was created by the Victorians.
While reading Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines, one of the articles that caught my attention was “How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time.”
I string up lights and garland, hang up wreaths, and deck out multiple Christmas trees. Although a lot has changed since the Victorian era (electricity and plastic, just to name two changes), many of the ideas for decorating that I still use today have been around since the time of the Victorians.
For example, the Victorians used to decorate their homes with evergreens and other Christmassy plants:
“According to an old and poetical belief, the sylvan spirits flock to the evergreens in our houses, and remain unnipped by frost. In England we depend chiefly for the greenery of our decorations on ivy, holly, and mistletoes; the bilberry playing its part sometimes.”
Even though homes lacked electricity for lights during the era, the Victorians still wanted to see the holiday season sparkle. According to “How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time”:
“A hall should have plenty of light in it, therefore when evening closes in such decorations sparkle and glisten…”
In my house, I like to drape sparkly garland around the windows. The Victorians, too, delighted in wrapping garland throughout the home:
“Garlands round pillars, up staircases, and suspended from each corner of a room or hall to the centre, will repay the trouble of making …. Archways and doorways should not be left unadorned.”
Although some of the exact details have changed over the years, decorating during the Christmas season is still fairly similar (at least in my home) between now and during the Victorian era.
For more tips from the Victorians for decorating for the holidays, check out the complete “How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time”:
A Victorian Guide to Decorating at Christmas Time: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nevadacity/11353336634/ (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time 1 The Parenting Patch
How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time 2 The Parenting Patch
How to Decorate the House at Christmas Time 3 The Parenting Patch