About Christmas Decorations from Family Christmas OnlineTM
This page will eventually contain links to many pages that provide ideas about decorating your home for Christmas. But we're starting with a few notes to get you thinking about Christmas decorations in general.
A Quick History of Christmas Decorations
Would it surprise you to know that some of the ways that we decorate for Christmas today go back to before the birth of Jesus? Or that the earliest European settlers in North America hardly decorated for Christmas at all?
- Long, Long Ago - People have been bringing evergreen branches inside during the longest nights of winter for at least 2000 years. Wreaths are even older.
- Early Americans - The early Puritans and Pilgrims in North America thought Christmas decorations seemed too "Catholic." "Early American Christmas Decorations" would have been the exception rather than the rule.
- Other Immigrants Sneak Christmas in Anyway - French- and German-speaking people brought their feast days and Nativity sets and Christmas trees with them. Eventually the Americans celebrating Christmas outnumbered the Americans who didn't.
- Christmas Trees Become "Mainstream" - In the mid-1800s, Christmas became more of a "family holiday," and decorating the Christmas tree became a central part of the family's celebration. For several decades, most people, even in wealthy households, made most or all of their own Christmas tree decorations, often from paper or from recycled products such as pie pans or tin cans.
- Christmas Decorations Become an Industry - Back in Europe, German-speaking craftsmen began supplied North Americans with a steady stream of Old World products, including nutcrackers, nativity figurines and blown-glass Christmas tree ornaments. Craftsmen in other European countries, such as France, Italy, and Poland, also began making decorations to sell abroad. In 1880, when Woolworth stores began importing these decorations, demand for them exploded. Although most of today's "store-bought" decorations are made in China, the majority are still inspired by those traditional hand-made European offerings.
- Christmas Decorating Grows in All Directions - In my youth, most families (and even most stores) started decorating for Christmas about December tenth. If nothing else, live trees and cut greenery only lasted a couple of weeks or so before they started becoming unsightly fire hazards. Today, of course, artificial trees and greenery can last indefinitely. Families have more time to put up more decorations, and more kinds of decorations, inside and out.
Decorating Today, Inside and Out
Today, folks have many options for decorations. One way to divide those options is by where they are displayed.
Of course, this is a sort of arbitrary breakdown, as you can have Christmas trees outdoors, and so on. You can also sort out Christmas Decorations by period (Victorian, modern, retro, etc.) or whether they are home-made or "store-bought."
- Outdoor Decorations tend to be set up for people driving by to see. As a rule, they are large, and attention to detail is not critical.
- Entrance-Way Decorations provide a cheery welcome and a transition from outdoors to indoors. These may include a wreath, a bow tied to a doorknocker, or decorations on the front porch.
- Inside Decorations include
Why Do People Decorate for Christmas?
People decorate their homes (and sometimes their personal space at work) for all kinds of reasons. Here are a few:
- Some decorations help us feel more "Christmassy" - they remind us of better times or rekindle our appreciation for the holidays.
- Some decorations are meant to help other folks feel more "Christmassy," friends and strangers alike.
- Some decorations express how we feel about Christmas.
No matter if, how, or why you decorate for Christmas, we hope you have the very best of holiday seasons this year and every year!
Eventually, we hope to have some good ideas to share about all of these combinations. In the meantime, here are some articles that may get you thinking about certain kinds of decorations to use (and not to use).
- Bag some Fine Art This Christmas - Some of America's most popular living artists have licensed merchandise that you can buy and frame for a few dollars if you shop carefully in the gift bag department of Dollar Tree or other discount stores. Well known Western, wildlife, landscape, and devotional artists have all contributed. New for 2010!
- Traditional Home-Made Ornaments - When you think about Victorian Christmas trees, forget about glass ornaments - they didn't exist during most of Queen Victoria's reign. What did people use? Found and recycled materials, and home-made ornaments. Here are a few examples that might surprise you.
- A Brief History of Christmas Trees
- About Nativities
- A Brief History of Christmas Villages If you enjoy setting out a holiday village of any kind, we think you will enjoy learning about the deep roots of this multicultural tradition.New for 2009!
Simple Paper Ornaments - Kid-friendly patterns and instructions for making classy home-made paper ornaments
- Don't Try This at Home (Anymore) - Dangerous Decorations People Used to Use
- Outdoor Decorations - A look at some of the things folks have done to make their house and front yards say "Christmas," including:
What is a Glitterhouse? - From a related site, Big Indoor Trains, comes a discussion of the original "Christmas Villages," the kind made of cardboard, celophane, and glitter. Includes free downloadable instructions and patterns for several unique projects.
- Tribute to Tinplate - Also from Big Indoor Trains, free downloadable plans and patterns for making cardboard stations, houses, and accessories that look just like the tinplate buildings that populated Christmas-tree railroads a century ago. New for 2009!
If you've been reading our pages, you know that we have big things planned, and a lot on our plate, so keep checking back.
us with any questions or suggestions you have in the meantime.
Paul and Shelia Race
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