RSS

Tag Archives: Vintage

The Origins of the Christmas Tree

How It All Got Started

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.


A Christmas tree for German soldiers in a temporary hospital in 1871

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims‘s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Center tree is located at Rockefeller Center, west of Fifth Avenue from 47th through 51st Streets in New York City.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree dates back to the Depression Era days. The tallest tree displayed at Rockefeller Center came in 1948 and was a Norway Spruce that measured in at 100 feet tall and hailed from Killingworth, Connecticut.

The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931. It was a small unadorned tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights. These days, the giant Rockefeller Center tree is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights.


Rockefeller Center’s Chrismtas tree is all lit up. Credit: Jason DeCrow, AP

Read more at this link.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Few Vintage Christmas Ads

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Art, Christmas, History, Holiday, Vintage

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Vintage Thanksgiving Cards

Love these old postcards from early 1900’s.  I wanted to share a few.  More here.

Click on images to enlarge!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Art, History, Holiday, Paintings, Vintage

 

Tags: , , , ,

Vintage Art


Absinthe Bourgeois

Click on image for link and purchase info. Enjoy!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Art, History, Paintings, Vintage

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Greetings from Carmel

Greetings from Carmel, originally uploaded by *Gracie.

Photography by Gracie – © All rights reserved

Textures by Pink Sherbet Photography

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 6, 2010 in Art, Gracie, Nature, Nikon D60, Photography, Photoshop

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Good Wife’s Guide

This is a magazine clipping from Housekeeping Monthly, May 13, 1955. I stumbled upon this guide for being a “good wife” but had totally forgotten about it ’til now!

Are YOU a good wife?

*Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

* Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

* Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

* Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

* During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

* Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

* Be happy to see him.

* Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

* Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

* Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

* Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

* Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

* Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

* Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

* A good wife always knows her place.

Original below – click to enlarge

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2008 in People, Women

 

Tags: , , , , ,