A Victorian Christmas is very different from a modern day one. Especially the Christmas tree.
In this article I will talk about what a Victorian Christmas tree is and how to make one.
Christmas Tree History
Here is a little history on the Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree tradition started in the 17th century inGermany. However many ancient civilizations considered the evergreen tree to be a symbol of life during the Winter months and would decorate these trees. In 1841 QueenVictoria’s husbandPrince Albertintroduced the Royal family to this custom.
In 1850 a tinted etching of a Christmas tree inWindsorcastle was published making the Christmas tree must have for every Victorian home. This tradition caught on fast with Victorian England. However it was not yet commercialized.
In 1880 Macy’s inNew Yorksaw the opportunity to commercialize Christmas. They filled their window displays with dolls and toys fromGermany,France,Austria, andSwitzerlandincluding stream driven moveable parts.
With the growing popularity of Christmas, Christmas tree makers started to produce ornaments around 1870. Many of these ornaments where made of cotton-wood around an armature of metal or wood and trimmed with embossed paper faces, buttons. gold paper wings, and diamond dust (powdered glass).
The above is just a quick history of the Christmas Tree.
Victorian Christmas Tree
You may be asking exactly how does a person begin to go about decorating a Victorian Christmas tree? I have outlined steps below on how to recreate a Victorian Christmas tree.
Step 1: Question You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Start.:
- How authentic do you want your tree to be?
- Do you want to create all your ornaments and garland yourself?
- Do you want to make this a family project?
- Do you want to purchase all your ornaments and garland?
Step 2: Picking the Perfect Victorian Christmas Tree.
Victorian Christmas trees are very different from the modern day full round trees. Victorian Christmas trees where real, tall and slender with plenty of space between the branches.
- Improving with a fake tree – To do this all you need to do is leave of a few of the branches and bend them a little so they look less bushy.
- Improving with a real tree – You will need to use some hedge clippers and remove some of the branches so it is less bushy.
Step 3: Choosing Your Color Scheme:
Traditional Victorian Christmas color schemes are not the same red and green as today’s Christmas color schemes.
- Shades of soft pink
Note that things like hot pink and bright colors are not traditional Victorian colors.
Step 4: Choosing Your Lighting:
Christmas trees in the Victorian era where lit with candles attached to the tree branches. This is a major fire hazard and I highly recommend not using this method. Many retails have came up with reproduction candle lighting that are safe to use.
Step 5: Choosing Your Garland:
Traditional Victorian garland was usually made of food or paper.
Here are some of the objects that where used to create garland:
- Paper chains
These can be used in any combination.
Note that many stores now carry artificial versions of these types of garland.
Step 6: Ornaments
Most Victorian Christmas tree ornaments where handmade by the family. Ornaments where usually created with bits and pieces from around the house such as scraps of fabric, lace, ribbon, and paper. Pictures of people where cut our of publications and decorated with ribbon and lace. Snowflakes where cut from paper and used as decorations. Walnuts where painted gold and ribbon added to them for hanging. Children’s toys where also used to decorate the tree.
Step 7: Tree Topper:
Every Christmas tree needs a tree topper. Victorian tree toppers where usually homemade angles.
Simple way to make your own is to get a doll with a long dress and attach some wings to her.
You can also purchase reproduction angles from most retailers.
Step 8: Christmas Tree Skirt:
The Victorians usually used a round piece of fabric. You can use any piece of fabric that matched your color scheme. Folding under the edges will give your skirt a nice finishing touch.
Also add a nativity scene to your tree skirt to add to your Victorian theme.
Interesting Information on Victorian Christmas Decorations.
- Almost all the decorations where made in the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.
- They did not put their Christmas tree up until Christmas Eve.
Following the above steps will help you recreate the perfect Victorian Christmas.
Let us know some of your favorite Christmas traditions in the comment section below.