Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas decorations remembered

Watching "Wartime Farm: Christmas" and seeing Ruth Goodman making paper lanterns, I was catapaulted back into Geasons Primary School and our messy endeavours to make decorations every Christmas.  One teacher had us painting tree branches white, and hanging baubles from them. Another had us making paper chains. Everyone had them - strips of coloured card that formed a circle.

When I was a child, we hung paper streamers across the ceiling and bunches of balloons in the corners. The decorations looked like these (right) - they were made by a company called Harlequin and were intricately cut and bright colours. These gave way to similar "drop downs" where several metres of coloured foil cut out decorations were concertina'd between two end plates.

Our first artificial Christmas tree arrived around 1969, courtesy of Freeman's catalogue. It was very tall, right up to the ceiling, and turquoise with silvery bits.

We had a faithful old collection of baubles that came out year after year, and long plumes of tinsel and strands of lametta. Mum liked to hang lametta from the chains across the ceiling, which used to constantly drop down and drive my dad mad.

Some of the baubles were those delightful old-fashioned ones with the side cut out. I've seen similar ones on eBay. We had a couple of glass birds. I loved them and was thrilled to find a very similar one at one of the Christmas shops in Oberammergau.

The fairy lights were big and chunky, some of them with a sugary texture. When one bulb failed, the whole lot stopped working.  They looked similar to those on the right.

And at the top of the tree was a shabby fairy who resembled a ballet dancer. Her white crepe paper dress became a dirty yellow over the years.

One thing I've found is that there isn't much on the Internet about Christmas decorating traditions. I'll come back tomorrow with an update.



James Wallis said...

Where on earth can someone buy those Harlequin paper streamers? They're an abiding memory of childhood Christmases, but I can't find them anywhere. Do you have a source, by any chance?

Anonymous said...

I have some. Clearing out attic and found them from my childhood. If interested, let me know

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