Decking the Halls

Did you Know…

If you wandered into an area mall in the days before Halloween this year, you might have seen your first Christmas decorations, already up and ready for holiday shoppers. Craft stores seem to have the holiday décor on display even before then – as they phase out the flip-flops and surfboards, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and yes, even Christmas decorations show up on the shelves.

Such a long holiday season may seem like overkill, but is likely preferable to a 1659 Massachusetts law that would fine anyone who hung Christmas decorations at any time (oh, those Puritans!). We’re not sure about decorations, but in 1895 Phoenix, the first ads for Christmas didn’t appear in the newspaper until the beginning of November, and most waited until mid-December before reminding people to buy presents and food for the upcoming holiday. As a matter of fact, to them, the term “Black Friday” would have hearkened back to September 24, 1869, when the U.S. gold market crashed, sending the stock market plummeting. Not a harbinger for a happy holiday season!

During the Victorian era, the Christmas “season” lasted for 12 days (yes – with pipers piping, lords a leaping, and an inordinate amount of diverse fowl all over the place), beginning with Christmas day and ending on January 5th (before the Christian celebration of Epiphany).

Christmas décor consisted of evergreen boughs and small trees, fresh flowers, fruit and other plants (like holly, mistletoe, and ivy). Helpful hints for decorating for the holidays could be found in newspapers and magazines, including these tips from The Ladies’ Home Journal (1892).  Take note of the parts where they instruct readers to place mistletoe and holly (both plants are poisonous) on their Christmas table!

Christmas trees started becoming popular in the United States in the 1850s, with the first trees being sold commercially during that decade, and President Franklin Pierce displaying the first tree in the White House in 1856. Trimming the tree involved using flowers and fruit, delicate glass or ceramic ornaments, though many ornaments were handmade. The first trees were either unlit, or were lit with candles (hello, fire hazard!). Electric lights on trees came later in the century, and were billed as an excellent way to avoid burning your house down for the holidays (find out more about the history of Christmas lights here).

However and whatever you celebrate and decorate, we hope you have fun and safe holiday season!

 

Find more interesting facts about Christmas trees here.

Learn how artificial Christmas trees are made with this video.

Learn where your live Christmas tree comes from with this video.

 

 

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Celebrate the Holidays at Heritage Square! 

November 15th through December 31st – see the Rosson House all decked out for the holidays, have tea, personalize a gift for someone at Handcrafted, attend a workshop, or play turn-of-the-century games during Snow Week. Don’t miss a single thing – catch up with Heritage Square events by checking out our calendar, here.

Exhibits Coming Soon –

Plate Expectations – Victorian Dining, Decorum, and Dishes

Come to the Rosson House Museum to see what the dining experience would have been like at the turn-of-the-century, including artifacts from the archaeological digs in and around Heritage Square in the 1990s, on loan from Pueblo Grande Museum. The exhibit will be on display February through October 2018.

You are Here – Mapping Early Phoenix

Visit the Stevens-Haustgen Bungalow to see this free exhibit (on display in partnership with the Maricopa County Recorders Office) that shows how Phoenix was settled, and who those settlers were.  The exhibit will be on display beginning Summer 2018