Wednesday, 4 December 2013

D is for...Decorations

Do you deck the halls with boughs of holly or are you more “Bah, humbug!” about the whole decorations thing? Do you have them up on 1st December and feel sad when they come down on Twelfth Night or is as just a few strands of tinsel for as short a period as possible?

The first Christmas decorations was natural greenery such as holly, ivy and mistletoe. Evergreen trees such as fir or spruce were hung with shiny red apples to represent the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. This has developed into today's modern baubles. It is said that lit Christmas trees came about in the 16th Century when the Protestant reformer Martin Luther was walking in a snow covered forest on Christmas Eve. He was stuck by the beauty of the snow shimmering on the trees in the moonlight and decided to cut a small tree down and take it home. To replace the glittering snow he attached small candles to the branches. The practice of using candles continued for many years until 1882 when Edward H. Johnson had 80 red, white and blue bulbs displayed on the tree at his home on 5th Avenue, New York. Johnson was the Vice-President of the Edison Electric Light Company.
Christmas lights, Bridge Street, Stratford upon Avon
It's now standard practice to bring down all your decorations by Twelfth Night, 5th January, otherwise you will have a year of bad luck unless you keep them up all year (which seems like bad luck in itself). Such silly superstitions aside most people take them by 5th January if only because by the time New Year's has passed and life goes back to normal you end up being sick of the sight of them. Well, I do at any rate. However, you will find in many churches that decorations are kept up throughout January until Candlemas on 2nd February, which signifies 40 days after Jesus' birth.


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