Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Lore--Day 19

Hofauger House parlor, Virginia's Explore Park

Holiday Greenery

There were many different types of greenery used for decorating: holly, mistletoe, arbor-vitae, yew, myrtle, boxwood, running pine, ivy, and pine. They were tied into garland ropes called "wreathing" and draped in festoons around the room, over mirrors, mantels, doors and windows and around pictures. Now, this was supposed to be accomplished without EVER placing the plant material "upside down", as it was believed that foliage must never be placed in a direction contrary to the way it grows in nature or you would have bad luck. (Just try to hang a pine garland and not have some of it sticking in a direction that it does not grow on the tree!) Many folks embellished their wreaths and wreathing with items such as seashells, pinecones, apples and pineapples.  

There were also some flowers used as decorations:  Chrysanthemums, primulas, Christmas roses, camellias, Christmas cactus and poinsettias. If the real flowers were not available, colored paper (especially gilt) was used to make bright flowers and ornaments to place on tabletop trees and for wreathing.  

Most of the decorations, including the tree, would generally be put up on Christmas Eve so that when the children woke up the next morning, they would find their home transformed into a magical place.  

After the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the decorations were taken down,and the edible items were added to the holiday feast. It was bad luck to just throw away greenery or to even let it touch the ground after it was taken down.  It should either be burned or fed to the farm animals. Christmas mistletoe should always be burned on Twelfth Night. If it was just thrown away all of the boys and girls who had kissed under it would never marry.

I can promise you that all of the greenery that I used to decorate the house in the above photo, was burned after I took it down. Goodness knows that I did not want to have any bad luck!  


  1. I remember several Christmases at the Hofauger, each one better than the previous one. You put in a great deal of effort every year in the decorating of the house. It always showed.

  2. You know, you just do not realize what you had until it is gone. I used to dread decorating the HH for just one night, but it sure was magical when it was decorated. I would give quite a bit to still be able to have that experience.


All comments will be moderated. Your comment will appear after it is reviewed.