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Christmas Decorating Picture
Decorations on the
exterior facades of colonial homes was not done as it is today, yet we attribute those swags of evergreen and fruits to the people of the 18th century. But do you really think that if fresh fruit were available to the colonist it would be hung on the front doors to rot? Although in colonial America, a Christmas wreath was always left on the front door of each home, and when taken down at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, any edible portions would be consumed with other foods of the feast. The main decorations used consisted of natural material available to the colonist- evergreens, laurel, magnolia leaves, berries, holly, and ivy. Greenery from the outside of their homes certainly gave a wonderful fragrance.

The idea of using fruits on wreaths and swags really had its beginning on wealthy homes in the early 1900's. Yet everyone thinks of Colonial Williamsburg when they see the wreath and swags of pineapples and apples outside. It wasn't until 1936 when Colonial Williamsburg first decorated for Christmas. The greenery was used only on wreaths. Running cedar was also used on the Governor's Palace and Raleigh Tavern. On behalf of Williamsburg, a lady by the name of Louis Fisher drove to the Library of Congress where she studied English and American pictorial examples of decorating. The Colonial Williamsburg Christmas look was launched in 1939 with her wreaths.

The contests and competition began with the best decorating techniques spawned by the continual publicity in decorating magazines over the years. The photos you will view are reminiscent of the Colonial Williamsburg look.

Source: Text & photos by Bryan Wright

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