Christmas Dining Rooms in Victorian Style
The holiday season can be a time filled with festive gatherings
of families and friends. We all enjoy meeting relatives, friends and neighbors and
laughing at each other's stories over a holiday table brimming with fine foods and trimmings. For the
history enthusiast, the holidays offer opportunities to share your love of the past by decorating your home in authentic
historical fashion. The Victorians were particularly fond of the Christmas holiday, and began many of the
traditions we enjoy today. For example, Victorians began the custom of exchanging Christmas cards with friends, and invented
Christmas crackers filled with small gifts. Moreover, the economy of the times allowed for grand celebration of the holiday like never
before. The wealth generated by the new factories and industries of the Victorian age
allowed middle class families in England and Wales, in particular, to take time off from work and
celebrate over two days, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Families suddenly found the time and reason for
decorating their homes and enjoying lavish dinners!
This season, don't be afraid to mix and match styles. For your dining table,
try layering on different fabrics--a richly trimmed brocade tablecloth, topped with a sparkling runner or even a
square quilt, and finished off with colorful doilies, handkerchiefs and ribbons for panache. Spruce up your table with a combination of plates (that need not be the same pattern).
Use gold or silver charger plates to create a formal look, and then mix and match a variety of fancy plates, layered atop
one another. Or, for a more subdued and clean look, use tone-on-tone whites this season, and adorn your table with wintry,
frosted poinsettas, berries, and snowball candles. Don't forget to lay a few Victorian Christmas
"firecrackers" on your table for fun after the meal!
And as a final note, no Victorian home is complete during the holidays without a Christmas tree. The symbol of the Christmas tree can, in fact, be traced
back to the 7th century. According to tradition, a monk from Crediton,
Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God to the people. He used the triangular shape
of the local-grown fir tree to describe the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Early Christians
continued the use of the tree as a symbol of the Christian faith. By the 12th century, fir trees were hung
from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe as a symbol of faith. During the 16th century, Protestant
reformer Martin Luther reportedly decorated a small tree with candles to tell the story of
Christ's birth and how the stars twinkled through the dark night. Before long, trees were decorated in
houses all across Germany for Christmastime. Real silver was produced into strands of tinsel and hung on the tree along
with candles and other small ornaments. However, it was not until the Victorian era when the Christmas tree truly
became a holiday staple, after Queen Victoria and her German husband Albert
made Christmas trees all the rage. Young Victorian ladies quilled snowflakes and stars, made paper
baskets, and fashioned bead decorations for their trees. Germany also imported lovely angels to top the tree.
By the early twentieth century, ornaments were manufactured and sold to the masses. Garlands, glass tree ornaments,
glitter and small toys adorned trees that have become more elaborate through the years. If your dining room allows
the space, consider placing a tree in the corner to truly add some holiday warmth. Even a small
tree will do! Your guests will never
forget the experience of a holiday meal by the light of a real Christmas tree.