Antique Christmas Village Layout Ideas

Published: 20th November 2008
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Considering an old-world Christmas village layout, but not sure how to make it completely authentic? Here are a few items you may not already know about Christmas past.

Set up your village to display the tradition of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. In England it is a national holiday. Although many manufactured reasons for the holiday exist, this old time village tradition appears to originate from the practice of boys collecting money in clay boxes the day after Christmas. Looking further back in history some say that the tradition began from a custom in the Middle Ages (over 800 years ago) when village churches would open their 'alms boxes' and distribute the contents to poor people the day after Christmas.

Christmas trees in your village of the past were first lighted with waxed candles. In the old days this presented a fire hazard as you might imagine, therefore containers filled with water were on hand at the base of the Christmas tree.

If creating a New York City Christmas village (from 1930s onward), which display people, be sure to include workers and general laborers in the mix. These construction works are responsible for the well established tradition of a Christmas tree on display at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Those first trees were undecorated and unlit.

Other traditions began:

Manufactured Christmas tree ornaments, 1880.

Christmas greeting cards, the late 1830s.

Writing Xmas instead of Christmas, since the 1500s.

Candy canes, 1750 and beyond. Red made them striped in the 1950s.

Christmas declared a national holiday, 1870.

If your Christmas village is a European town, remember that evergreen branches were hung over their doors and windows to ward off witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness.

Evergreen wreaths - round or circular - have often been used as the decorative piece on the front of a door. Variations of wreaths might include berry, grapevine, poinsettia and snow. The berry wreath has individual and small clusters of red berries, holly leaves mixed with pine cones and needle styles. Not much has changed over the years of Christmas village decorating in respect of wreaths.

Finally, the tradition of Christmas tree in a small village comes from Germany. It isn't particularly clear how the tradition gained a foothold in Germany to begin with. Some of those Christian Germans would build pyramids for Christmas. These pyramids were made of wood and would be decorated with evergreens and candles if wood was in short supply.

However it was Martin Luther, a Protestant reformer, who was the first to add lit candles as decoration to a tree. His inspiration was from the brilliant light of twinkling stars that shone through evergreen trees as he walked home one winter evening. As the story goes, Martin Luther placed a tree in his house and placed wires with small, lighted candles around the branches of the tree.

That is how the Christmas tree as we know it today, lights and all, began. It was not long after this that village squares in large and small towns across the USA began decorating their exterior trees with light.

With a passion for home decor, but specializing in seasonal decorations, LJ Childs recently has written a variety of articles on traditional and authentic Christmas country decor. With a passion for the Christmas villages display and various layouts, LJ shares ideas with others on creating new traditions with the family. For more ideas and inspiration check out .

Video Source: Youtube

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