The Christmas tree began as a German tradition, but was popularised in England and the United States when Queen Victoria, whose mother was German-born, married German Prince Albert. Their Christmas tree was featured in the Illustrated London News in 1848 as well as in the U.S. circulated Godey's Lady's Book. The first trees in the U.S. were sold in 1851.
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Decorate with Toys and Treats
Victorian Christmas trees initially were decorated with toys and treats. Hang small, wooden toys as ornaments or look for toy-themed ornaments. Hang gingerbread men, marzipan candies, fruit (fresh and dried), nuts, berries, windup toys and tin soldiers on your tree. Place stocking stuffer treats in the tree instead of the stockings to surprise the little ones. Stuff paper cones with candies, nuts and fruits if they're too small to tuck into the branches themselves.
Victorian trees were lit with hand-dipped candles carefully placed on sconces connected to the branches. Since real candles are a fire hazard, you can find electric candles to place on your tree. Otherwise, use simple white Christmas lights to imitate the ambience of a lit tree before coloured lights. Add clear and silver ornaments and fake icicles to reflect the light and give an ambient glow. Icicles and silver were also common on the Victorian tree.
Before the advent of commercially manufactured ornaments during the late 1800s, most Christmas tree decorations were handcrafted. Create the look of a Victorian tree by searching for vintage Victorian Christmas images, then printing them on card stock, cutting them out and hanging them on your tree. Cut gold and silver cardboard into shapes of animals, stars and shapes for Victorian-inspired paper ornaments. Hand-stitched dolls and children's mittens were also commonplace. Allow your children to use their creativity and contribute paper snowflakes or ornaments made from felt.
Victorian trees were known for their elaborate embellishments. Take the time to wrap your tree with a beaded garland, or make one from popcorn with the kids. Cranberry garlands were also commonplace. Top the tree with a large angel or doll rather than an electric star or Santa Claus. A cherub porcelain angel also works well. Tinsel was also a common decoration on Victorian trees, originally made from real silver. Use just a touch on your tree for a shimmery texture.
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