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Culpeper Times • December 13-19, 2018

HISTORY More Christmas Traditions….The tree, decorations and presents ZANN’S PLACE

The role of the evergreen tree, in its natural form or a facsimile, as a focal point in the celebration of Christmas was the brainchild of the Germans, even before they were known as Germans. Snippets of early records indicate such activity as early as the mid -1700s in German settlements in Pennsylvania. However, without mass communication, pockets of activity did not translate into the development of widespread traditions. The idea of the Christmas tree languished during the early 19th Century, but the popular ruling family of England was about to change the world. In the 1840s, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria introduced

Zann Nelson

leaving the branches to display only strands of cranberries lacing the to the British a novel idea, albeit a decorations. Decorating the tree boughs. Of course, not yet having traditional one from his homeland of became an art and in many instances access to electricity, the tree was Germany. He brought an evergreen was very competitive. adorned with burning candles. You tree inside Windsor Castle and Germany remained the leader in guessed it; a serious fire hazard. In covered it with decorations for the production of beautiful handfact, Christmas trees catching fire Christmas. Pictures of the royal blown glass ornaments. Popular in was so common that for practical family happily enjoying the festive the 1870's, they were an expensive purposes a bucket of water was tree were published in newspapers prize that could only be attained placed next to the tree in hopes of throughout England and America. directly from England or Germany preventing a disaster. Not to be outdone, the very next and were quite the status symbol, Whether it was a large tree that year, Dr. Minnegerode, a professor both for size and quantity. stood on the floor in a bucket filled at William and Mary College began By the 1880s, the F.W. Woolworth with coal or a smaller version atop a the same tradition in his home in department store was selling them table, the children’s gifts were likely Williamsburg, VA. It was a grand to the masses. The first artificial tree tied directly to the branches. idea and became widely fashionable. was invented in Germany in 1880 The giving of presents, especially Traditionally, the home would and electric Christmas lights were to children, was historically not what have been dressed with evergreens patented in America in 1882. throughout Advent, the four weeks we practice today. The gifts received Until next week, be well. preceding Christmas. The Christmas came unwrapped, usually from tree was not “put up” until Christmas parents to children and consisted of Zann Nelson is a researcher Eve and would remain the center of small handmade toys and articles of the holiday decorations until January clothing. Stores began to aggressively specializing in historical investigations, public speaker and award -winning 6th, the 12th day of Christmas. advertise their wares and the virtues freelance writer and columnist. She Popular decorations included of gift-giving flourished. can be reached at M16439@aol.com The custom of placing the gifts fruits, cookies, homemade ornaments, Flooring Specialists and More on the tree was soon abandoned, a sparkling star on the top and Flooring Specialists and More or www.facebook.com/ZannsPlace.

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Culpeper Times - Dec. 13, 2018  

Thousand Points of Light | Wreaths Across America | Holiday weight gain tips

Culpeper Times - Dec. 13, 2018  

Thousand Points of Light | Wreaths Across America | Holiday weight gain tips