Victorian Holiday Decorating

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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1880 Stick Victorian
Posts: 833
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:35 am
Location: Lyons, NY

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by 1880 Stick Victorian »

Melissa.... if you have an inch of window ledge you can get the elec. candles that could fit on your ledge..i know wal mart was carrying them early this season..the bases look like brass or pewter...and they actually have a little more weight that the all plastic ivory elec candles that you can find everywhere... the all ivory plastic candles i have to slide the base of the candle under the sash lift to make sure it doesn't move...they are so light the cords are kind of stiff that they slid easily.. but they do make the smaller bases...i'll get a picture of mine when i take them down in a week...and show ya...

jade.... i think movies sway my idea of how things should look to get an idea... from what i have seen of local photos of the decorations in the 1800s....i don't believe the victorian folk decorated as much as we do know..... maybe the upper end of society could swing it but not your everyday people... i have one picture of our parlor mantle taken during the holidays...seems that swags of pine, fir, evergreen and pine cones were used... on top of picture frames, mantles,etc...there were no electric lights... in fact i just saw a program on the history channel.... when electric christmas lights first came on the scene at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s...they ran about 12 dollars for a string of ten or something like that... translate it into todays dollars and it was approx. $285 back then.... :shock:
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Theo. & Alice Fries House
Lyons, New York - 1880

eperot
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:26 am
Location: Garden State

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by eperot »

....i don't believe the victorian folk decorated as much as we do know.....
You mean they didn't have big inflatible Mickey-Mouse-as-Santa-Claus, huge plastic lighted snow globes, or plastic illuminated candycanes, nutcrackers, and palm trees (!) to junk up their lawns? :lol:

I'm gonna keep it simple...i'm actually installing an electrical outlet under every window as I redo each room so I can have a candle in each..that plus swags of pine garland with white lights draped on the (eventual) porch and a wreath on the door.

Eric
Jacob Beaty House - c.1874
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1880 Stick Victorian
Posts: 833
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:35 am
Location: Lyons, NY

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by 1880 Stick Victorian »

eperot wrote:
....i don't believe the victorian folk decorated as much as we do know.....
You mean they didn't have big inflatible Mickey-Mouse-as-Santa-Claus, huge plastic lighted snow globes, or plastic illuminated candycanes, nutcrackers, and palm trees (!) to junk up their lawns? :lol:

I'm gonna keep it simple...i'm actually installing an electrical outlet under every window as I redo each room so I can have a candle in each..that plus swags of pine garland with white lights draped on the (eventual) porch and a wreath on the door.

Eric
each year... the same woman in our village wins the contest.... she throws some spiral white plastic trees in her front yard....some lighted candy canes in front of some evergreens by her porch and icicles lights... it must take her... an hour to put everything up...nothing in the rest of her house..and yet she wins every year...

i like eric's idea of a outlet under every window...dang i bet i have 25 ext cords in the house for the candles...but under every window i have a radiator :cry:
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Theo. & Alice Fries House
Lyons, New York - 1880

melissakd
Posts: 3468
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:29 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by melissakd »

Yes, not much doing until closer to time. As a girl I loved Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Here's the bit I always remember from the Christmas chapter:

"Birnam Wood has come to Dunsinane, Rosy," said Dr. Alec, as he left the breakfast table to open the door for a procession of holly, hemlock, and cedar boughs that came marching up the steps.

Snowballs and "Merry Christmases!" flew about pretty briskly for several minutes; then all fell to work trimming the old house, for the family always dined together there on that day.

"I rode miles and mileses, as Ben says, to get this fine bit, and I'm going to hang it there as the last touch to the rig-a-madooning," said Charlie, as he fastened a dull green branch to the chandelier in the front parlor.

"It isn't very pretty," said Rose, who was trimming the chimney-piece with glossy holly sprays.

"Never mind that, it's mistletoe, and anyone who stands under it will get kissed whether they like it or not."

So evidently they didn't decorate until that day; but then it could form part of the festivities, which is kind of nice too. "Birnam Wood has come to Dunsinane, Rosy" always stuck in my mind because I didn't know what the heck that meant. I'm sure I had read that book six or seven times by the time we got to Macbeth in high school lit class and the light finally dawned. {For the less enthusiastic Shakespeare fans: an army disguises itself as a forest, to launch an attack on Dunsinane Castle.}
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The Thaddeus W. Bayless House
Built between July 1863 and January 1865, major add/reno between 1890 and 1902
Style = Mutt

artfox
Posts: 695
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 4:24 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by artfox »

Melissakd, those lines by Louisa May Alcott really brought back memories! I loved "Eight Cousins" too and re-read it many times, but my copy disappeared a long time ago.

Maybe people used to wait until just before they celebrated Christmas to decorate so the fresh greenery didn't dry out. I've read that, in well-to-do Victorian households, children were kept away from the parlor during the day on Dec.24th while the tree was secretly brought into the room and decorated. After Christmas Eve dinner, the doors to the parlor would be thrown open and the tree, with lighted candles and presents beneath, would be revealed in all its glory.

That's a far cry from putting up an artificial tree and other decorations on Thanksgiving weekend, as many of us do now. Or, perhaps having a "permanent" Christmas tree that stays decorated and when the holidays are over, simply covering it and shoving it in a closet, all ready to use again with only a bit of fluffing up.

avjudge
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:29 pm
Location: Somerville MA

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by avjudge »

1880 Stick Victorian wrote:i like eric's idea of a outlet under every window...dang i bet i have 25 ext cords in the house for the candles...but under every window i have a radiator :cry:
My dad is quite enthusiastic about some battery-powered LED candles he got a couple years ago - no cords, and they come on at a set time & go off X hours later so you don't have to remember to run around and switch on/plug in/screw in (whichever is your preferred on/off method) each night - you don't even have to be home!

I'm not sure how they'd compete against our city street lights, though. I should test one out when he's ready to put them away. They do look great in the country.

Anne
Anne
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eperot
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:26 am
Location: Garden State

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by eperot »

They do have some higher quality incandescent candle lamps that plug in and yet have a light sensor that will turn them on during the dark hours and off again at sunrise. ...
http://www.brookstone.com/window-candles.html
I like the pewter finish. :wink:
Eric
Jacob Beaty House - c.1874
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melissakd
Posts: 3468
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:29 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: Victorian Holiday Decorating

Post by melissakd »

artfox wrote:Maybe people used to wait until just before they celebrated Christmas to decorate so the fresh greenery didn't dry out.
By gum, I'll bet you're right. Many times I try to think of reasons for the customs of the past, but when I find the answer, the real reason is much simpler than anything I came up with.

I had Eight Cousins, Little Women and An Old-Fashioned Girl when I was a child, and read them all many times (as well as many other books that had been my mother's either when she was young or when she was a fourth-grade teacher). As an adult I love them still, and also have grown to love Louisa May Alcott for being such a Victorian---she's not afraid to bring the narrative to a screeching halt to deliver a lecture---yet such a good writer that she gets away with things that would be cliches in less capable hands.

MKD
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The Thaddeus W. Bayless House
Built between July 1863 and January 1865, major add/reno between 1890 and 1902
Style = Mutt

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