Oh Tannenbaum!

treeSo today we put our Christmas Tree up in true Victorian style….Hope you like it.

According to History.Com 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.

My father can remember putting candles in special holders on the tree and lighting them….must have looked great if not somewhat dangerous!

How to make Christmas Paper Flowers

Paper flowers were very much en-vogue during the Victorian Era because generally speaking people made their own decorations.

So instead of popping down to the shops to buy some decorations why not give this a go.

The Holly and the Ivy!

Here’s a rather old and somewhat cheap idea to help decorate the festive home. Good old Ivy, it grows just about anywhere.

Follow Ruth Goodman’s idea for this great decorative idea.

Wrapping…and wrapped!

If you are going to give Christmas gifts or gifts at Christmas the wrapping paper is usually in there somewhere, for us it’s quite cheap and readily available.

However Victorians had to make their own as nothing was capable of the mass production needed.

Victorians presents might well be wrapped in white tissue paper decorated with bows snippets of ribbon and lace that could be found lying around the house, in those days very little was wasted.

Sometimes people paper pictures from a greeting card were added as extra decorations for wrapping.

Even a piece of outside greenery was added to the gift box.

So why not try it for yourself…

How to make Christmas Ornaments

A well dressed Christmas tree is a beautiful thing, a grand sight to behold where as a tree that is dressed like a dogs dinner is an affront to all humanity!

During the Victorian era (not unlike today) trees were decked with tinsel, silver wire ornaments, candles, strung beads, finely painted glass baubles and the first electric lights were patented in 1882, before that it was candles!

When Queen Victorian took to the throne all decorations were still hand made, you had crocheted snowflakes, stars, paper baskets for sugared almonds, paper flowers in all colours with twists of candy, candles, gingerbread shapes and figures molded from wax.

Of course nowadays you can pretty much buy what you want but here is Ruth Goodman to show us how to make Christmas Ornaments.

How to make Christmas Crackers

Ah Christmas Crackers…what would a Christmas meal be without a pop, poor joke and an ill fitting paper hat!

The origins of the cracker or ‘bonbon’ is somewhat murky. The tradition tells of how Thomas J. Smith of London invented crackers in 1847. He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper the fore runner for sweet wrappers.

Of course bon-bons are still sold and were certainly wonderful for removing my fillings what I was younger.

Anyway sales of bon-bons hit a down ward spiral so motto’s were added as a promotional gimmick, and a little later with the ‘crack’ (inspired by the crackle of his fire) and the bon-bon eventually replaced by a small and usually a small gift, I doubt if Smith could ever of foreseen the rather poorly made, and excuse the phrase ‘crap’ gifts we get today!

So that’s the basic tradition, however it appears that may not hold water because a letter dated 1817 by Lt. Colonel Felton Hervey, he tells us

The night before last Arthur Hill desired me to give a letter to the Duchess of Richmond, which I did very innocently. It contained one of these crackers, called Cossacks, which are sold in the fair here. It went off, and the duchess also, into one of the most violent fits of laughing hysterics ever witnessed. I am happy to say she does not think me guilty. I wonder it did not kill the old woman.

Anyway we join the most excellent Ruth Goodwin in a masterclass on cracker making.

How to dress your Christmas Tree

Having discovered that I can add video by URL I have found to find so great video’s from the BBC.

Ruth Goodman is a free-lance historian working with museums, theatre, television and educational establishments. She has presented several Television programmes but the Victorian Farm and more so in this instance the Victorian Christmas Farm which is fascinating viewing, not only that but is really very helpful in understanding how the ordinary Victorians celebrated Christmas and made their own decorations.

So the first in a series of video’s is How to dress your Christmas Tree