Museums at Christmas
Museums across the country are decking their halls for the holiday season. If there isn’t a museum in your town, there certainly is one just a short drive away!
If you've been meaning to get to your local museum, what better time of year? There will probably be lots of beautiful decorations to admire.
But sometimes holiday decorating isn’t what you'd expect to see. For example, if a historic house was built before the mid-19th century, you won’t see flashy trees and decorations. Christmas was not a major holiday in most ethnic groups at that time.
The Dutch and Germans were the most likely to celebrate, but their decorations would include fresh greens, fruits, nuts, and other treats. The “S of plenty” was popular, which served as both holiday décor and buffet table! Greens were laid out in the shape of an “S,” which was strewn with apples, oranges, lemons, and limes.
Victorian homes are usually lavishly decorated, which is perfectly appropriate for the era. “Victorian” usually implies “over the top.” By the late 19th century, Christmas trees were nearly universal. Intricate paper ornaments and delicate glass bulbs graced the fashionable Victorian Christmas tree.
Invented in Germany, glass ornaments first appeared in 1880. Peasant families would make them year round for export to the United States and other countries. When trade with Germany was suspended in 1939 for World War II, the American ornament business filled the gap.
If a museum’s vintage ornament collection is too fragile to display on a Christmas tree, you might find them on display in cases, like individual works of art!
There are few museums out there that focus exclusively on Christmas. One is the Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum in North Carolina. And the house from the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story is now open as a museum in Cleveland, Ohio. If you live in either of those areas, check them out.
Spend a fun and educational day with your friends or family and visit a museum this Christmas. Post your favorites in the forum!
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