Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CHRISTMAS DECORATING ...THE MEANING OF....

MODECOR
I feel, as I'm pulling out all my Christmas decorations, that I JUST put them away from last year's celebrations.

Is it possible that a year has gone by already?

 It is occurring to me also that I must ask myself... WHY? ... Why do I do this every year? 

Why do millions of people around the world bring out their Christmas memorabilia every year to decorate surfaces that for 11 months of the year typically see nary a tchotchke? 

I get the tradition and I get the desire to switch things up....for heaven's sake, I'm a decorator, that's what I do.  And let's face it... for a sizeable portion of the planet, this time of year can be a dreary place.  But the frenetic atmosphere, the timelines we impose on ourselves, the dollars spent on the newest Christmas trend. It truly has me flummoxed....has had me flummoxed for a number of years actually. Yet every year I bring out several plastic Christmas containers where each precious ornament has been carefully wrapped in tissue, I then strategically place each item on it's designated shelf, garland, branch or tabletop... for a month, and then carefully reverse the order, wrap each item back in tissue, place delicately back in it's original box and then securely packed into the special Christmas plastic container to hibernate for another 11 months...Curious.

I decided this year as I was unpacking my decorations, some of which I've had for 30 years, to investigate the meaning of these said decorations.

MODECOR

My Christmas wreath is usually the first traditional decorative item I hang up each year.  I try to give it a life span of several months, so November 25th until March is the length of time it hangs at our front door. For that matter, I have several hung throughout our home, albeit, for only a month.  Quite simply, the wreath symbolizes continuity...no beginning no end. Druids wore holly sprigs, believing that holly was sacred and magical  due to the fact that it stays green all year. It must also be noted that holly is accompanied by red berries....the traditional complementary colours of Christmas. It is thought that hanging wreaths on doors originated in Roman times...signalling a 'victory'. When Christianity became the dominant religion in Roman times, the holly wreath morphed into the Christmas wreath, a major symbol and decoration still to this day.

source
The Christmas tree is also an ancient symbol. It is believed that trees and other greenery were used during pagan ritulas to celebrate the birth of the sun in the sky during Winter Solstice celebrations. Christians adopted December 25th, very close to winter solstice, as the symbolic birthday of Jesus Christ.  Martin Luther, a German Protestant Reformer  is thought to have brought the first Christmas tree, a fir, indoors and decorated it with candles. We are seeing the symbolism of fire and spirit in the evergreen, a tree that points to the heavens. Eventually the Christmas tree was decorated with round glass balls, symbolizing the planets and of course the crowning glory of the Christmas tree ....The Star of Bethlehem.

MODECOR
I've always had a hard time with this next one as I'm not a huge fan of Santa Claus. However I'm a huge admirer of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor in the 3rd century AD. He was a devout Christian, most notably known as a secret gift giver, often placing coins in shoes of people who left them out for him. He is revered by many Christian denominations and is honoured as a patron saint of many people and countries throughout the world. He died on December 6th, 343AD.  We in North America have somewhat bastardized the original good works of Saint Nicholas and have a commercialized version known as Santa Claus, adapted from the dutch name Sinterklaas. I prefer to honour the original gift -giver.... Nicholas - 'The Wonderworker'.

MODECOR

Of course there is the ever popular Christmas stocking....which for me when I was little, was my father's heavy wool sock. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas put coins in three sisters' stockings when he learned that heir father had died impoverished, therefore leaving them with no dowery. I have to admit, that my favourite part of Christmas morning are the stockings that somehow, almost magically get filled up each Christmas Eve...by whom...I'm not sure!

MODECOR
Although these traditions are indigenous to Christmas, they are by no means exclusive to Christians. The ancient symbols of Christmas.... continuity, fire, light, sacredness, heaven, giving, love... are perennial and can be shared by all faiths at this time of year.


Happy Christmas decorating! 

There is a reason why we do it!



If you are interested in more information about Christmas check here


17 Comments:

At November 30, 2011 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

Lovely post Maureen! I loved hearing why we do all this craziness every year. I could certainly do without all the commercialism that Christmas has become.

 
At November 30, 2011 at 9:43 AM , Blogger Sheila said...

Wonderful post Maureen, I love all the old traditions that Christmas represents as well. I'm a big fan of paganism (though I am a practicing Catholic) my ancestors came from Ireland all those many years ago. There are little glimpses of these old ways apparent in our celebrating of the holidays. Thanks for reminding us of where it all began...it's important not to loose site of that as we are bombarded with the commercialism of the season.

 
At November 30, 2011 at 10:22 AM , Blogger Donna @ dh designs said...

Great post Maureen! I love hearing about the history behind our traditions, and as Sheila, have long been intrigued by paganism, so loved to see it's glimpses in today's decorating.

I, as you, have wondered year after year why we put ourselves through the rituals of decorating, but as soon as the tree is up, the lights lit, the Christmas music playing, I am filled with warmth, love and happiness - and I understand :).

 
At November 30, 2011 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Kelly @ JAX does design said...

Love your post, Maureen :-) I didn't know the origins of any of these Christmas decorations, so it was fun to read about how it all started :-)

I love, love, LOVE your mantel! You have some of the prettiest Christmas ornaments I've ever seen :-)

I'll probably start decorating this weekend. Although now with the sectional in the family room, I have no idea where the tree is going to go...

 
At November 30, 2011 at 10:41 AM , Blogger TLC_Designs said...

This is such a great post, Maureen! Thanks for clearing up some confusion about holiday traditions and decorations. I was *JUST* talking to Jeff about this - "why do we have a christmas tree? Did Jesus have a tree in the stable??!" haha. I think that we have all lost sight of what Christmas is really about (Not that I'm overly religious) but the commercialism of the holiday can really get me down. Thanks for bringing a tinch of history back to the season this year :)

*Tania @ Passport2Design.com

 
At November 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM , Blogger Maureen @ Modecor said...

Thank you Lisa, Sheila, Donna, Kelly and Tania. I needed to find out these answers for myself and wish I had done it many years ago. Looks like these traditions are steeped in history and are universal as well. Makes for a more incluive holiday. Merry Christmas!!!

 
At November 30, 2011 at 1:34 PM , Blogger Michelle Cortizo said...

Beautiful post Maureen! Always so wonderful and full of meaningful content. Thanks for putting the emphasis where it should be. xo

 
At November 30, 2011 at 2:46 PM , Blogger Pixiesmith said...

I love our Christmas traditions — to the dismay of my family who is sooo tired of Grandma's dressing recipe.

Love the mantel, too — is that real greenery? If not - where did you get it and can you get my some? :-)

Deb

 
At November 30, 2011 at 3:37 PM , Blogger Maureen @ Modecor said...

Thank you Michelle ... was starting to not enjoy Christmas...especailly all of the prep. Had to really get that special feeling back and this certainly helped. Hope ypu post some pics of your Christmas decor.

 
At November 30, 2011 at 3:39 PM , Blogger Maureen @ Modecor said...

I got the faux boxwood at Pottery Barn last year. Would love to have the real deal, but know it wouldn't last very long. I didn't see any there last week when I was in Toronto, but maybe on line?

 
At December 1, 2011 at 5:46 PM , Blogger The Entertaining House said...

I think we all need to step back and tone it down some... i think commercialism has caused some of this much non-needed frenzy. I love stockings the best too! I did not know the legend behind them. Nor did I know how to spell tchotchke - so I learned two things today!

 
At December 1, 2011 at 10:38 PM , Blogger SZInteriors said...

Such a beautiful,meaningful post... and the stockings are also my favorite part of the morning :-)

 
At December 2, 2011 at 7:46 PM , OpenID lynneknowlton.com said...

Fab post Mo ! I loved the 'sock' stockings. Stockings are my highlight of Christmas morning too. So nice to read about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. It helped to remind me of the important aspects of Christmas...having fun with pals and family....and not going TOOooo Crazy! Feels great to slow it all down and just enjoy.
Lynne xx

 
At November 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

Good little history lesson, thanks!

 
At November 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM , Blogger Daniela Duriavig said...

Well I've learned something new. Love that you used your dad's socks as your stockings!

 
At November 21, 2013 at 9:59 AM , Blogger Inspire Me Heather said...

I've thought about that too and I think we decorate because there's not much else to do in December, at least there isn't around here. It gives us something to do and it changes it up in the middle of a dreary Winter (I know, it's still Fall...) I don't go overboard either, we keep it simple and as natural as we can and whatever we make 'new' for decorating involves the kids, so there are memories attached to them Thanks for the meanings and history behind the familiar decorations, very interesting!!

 
At November 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM , Blogger Karen said...

Thank you for reminding me about Saint Nicholas! I will remember to think of Santa in this manner. Stockings are such great fun and my favourite thing about Christmas. I love your Dad's socks, what great stockings! My husband's family used their Dad's socks.... black, nylon, you get the picture... not so much fun! Karen@NourishwithKaren

 

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Maureen at Modecor Muses: CHRISTMAS DECORATING ...THE MEANING OF....

CHRISTMAS DECORATING ...THE MEANING OF....

MODECOR
I feel, as I'm pulling out all my Christmas decorations, that I JUST put them away from last year's celebrations.

Is it possible that a year has gone by already?

 It is occurring to me also that I must ask myself... WHY? ... Why do I do this every year? 

Why do millions of people around the world bring out their Christmas memorabilia every year to decorate surfaces that for 11 months of the year typically see nary a tchotchke? 

I get the tradition and I get the desire to switch things up....for heaven's sake, I'm a decorator, that's what I do.  And let's face it... for a sizeable portion of the planet, this time of year can be a dreary place.  But the frenetic atmosphere, the timelines we impose on ourselves, the dollars spent on the newest Christmas trend. It truly has me flummoxed....has had me flummoxed for a number of years actually. Yet every year I bring out several plastic Christmas containers where each precious ornament has been carefully wrapped in tissue, I then strategically place each item on it's designated shelf, garland, branch or tabletop... for a month, and then carefully reverse the order, wrap each item back in tissue, place delicately back in it's original box and then securely packed into the special Christmas plastic container to hibernate for another 11 months...Curious.

I decided this year as I was unpacking my decorations, some of which I've had for 30 years, to investigate the meaning of these said decorations.

MODECOR

My Christmas wreath is usually the first traditional decorative item I hang up each year.  I try to give it a life span of several months, so November 25th until March is the length of time it hangs at our front door. For that matter, I have several hung throughout our home, albeit, for only a month.  Quite simply, the wreath symbolizes continuity...no beginning no end. Druids wore holly sprigs, believing that holly was sacred and magical  due to the fact that it stays green all year. It must also be noted that holly is accompanied by red berries....the traditional complementary colours of Christmas. It is thought that hanging wreaths on doors originated in Roman times...signalling a 'victory'. When Christianity became the dominant religion in Roman times, the holly wreath morphed into the Christmas wreath, a major symbol and decoration still to this day.

source
The Christmas tree is also an ancient symbol. It is believed that trees and other greenery were used during pagan ritulas to celebrate the birth of the sun in the sky during Winter Solstice celebrations. Christians adopted December 25th, very close to winter solstice, as the symbolic birthday of Jesus Christ.  Martin Luther, a German Protestant Reformer  is thought to have brought the first Christmas tree, a fir, indoors and decorated it with candles. We are seeing the symbolism of fire and spirit in the evergreen, a tree that points to the heavens. Eventually the Christmas tree was decorated with round glass balls, symbolizing the planets and of course the crowning glory of the Christmas tree ....The Star of Bethlehem.

MODECOR
I've always had a hard time with this next one as I'm not a huge fan of Santa Claus. However I'm a huge admirer of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor in the 3rd century AD. He was a devout Christian, most notably known as a secret gift giver, often placing coins in shoes of people who left them out for him. He is revered by many Christian denominations and is honoured as a patron saint of many people and countries throughout the world. He died on December 6th, 343AD.  We in North America have somewhat bastardized the original good works of Saint Nicholas and have a commercialized version known as Santa Claus, adapted from the dutch name Sinterklaas. I prefer to honour the original gift -giver.... Nicholas - 'The Wonderworker'.

MODECOR

Of course there is the ever popular Christmas stocking....which for me when I was little, was my father's heavy wool sock. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas put coins in three sisters' stockings when he learned that heir father had died impoverished, therefore leaving them with no dowery. I have to admit, that my favourite part of Christmas morning are the stockings that somehow, almost magically get filled up each Christmas Eve...by whom...I'm not sure!

MODECOR
Although these traditions are indigenous to Christmas, they are by no means exclusive to Christians. The ancient symbols of Christmas.... continuity, fire, light, sacredness, heaven, giving, love... are perennial and can be shared by all faiths at this time of year.


Happy Christmas decorating! 

There is a reason why we do it!



If you are interested in more information about Christmas check here