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What did the Victorians use to decorate at Christmas?

One of the classic Christmas stories, Scrooge, is set in Victorian England, whether you watch the muppets version, Disney’s scrooge or the one made in 1951, the setting is always the same, which plays a big part in the charm of the story. You are casted back to the cold streets of Victorian England, with the characters and styles that are instantly recognisable. So, this got us thinking, what did the Victorians use to decorate for the festive season?

Nature was a large part of the home décor for Victorians, often bringing in evergreens, pinecones, sprigs of holly and mistletoe to add some colour and festive spirit to their homes. The pops of colour hanging by ribbon or yarn around the house help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere to swoop you up from the cold outside!

The Tree

The tradition of a Christmas tree was brought over from Germany by King George the thirds wife Charlotte in the early years of the nineteenth century. It wasn’t until 1840 that the Christmas tree began to pick up with popularity.

Victorian trees were often covered in strings of dried fruit, think apple and orange slices, cranberries, cinnamon sticks and even popcorn. This must have made the decorating process come alive with the scent of these fruits, if nothing it would certainly get belly’s rumbling!

Homemade decorations would be next on the tree, with decorations being made from leather, tin, pinecones, straw, yarn, fabric and paper. You can just imagine fun family afternoons spent making these precious decorations which would go on to be hung with care.

Then the highly treasured glass baubles would be hung with pride. These were often handed down throughout families, becoming decorations that held a lot of sentimental value to each household.

Candles gave the tree that beautiful glow that we all enjoy, however dangerous it was! Luckily, the invention of electricity meant that candles would be replaced by electric lights, now available in many colours, styles and with different functions! Next time your lights are in a twist, give a thought for the risky Victorian candle!

Hidden amongst the branches you could find some small presents. Hung at the last minute and given out to the children, this is probably one of the most exciting touches for everyone! From mother sneaking around to lovingly place them, to the children being handed them! This would have made the tree the centre of the celebration!

Maybe this year could be the year we go back to hiding some small presents in them! If you already keep this tradition alive, we would love to hear what you hide in the tree, get in touch on Facebook or Instagram or tag us in your pictures.


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