Many years ago, Diane had the pleasure of decorating a 13-foot fresh balsam Christmas tree for Guy Trebay of The New York Times, about which he wrote in a wonderful Sunday Styles cover story. Guy described her talent for decking the halls as “lavish yet somehow restrained.” Using Guy’s “oddball ornaments” (which he has gathered over a lifetime of exotic travel), 20 strands of white electric lights, 12 dozen ornamental fruits and many yards of orange silk taffeta, Diane turned the tree into a Yuletide work of art.
The tradition of decorating evergreen trees and using boughs or evergreen shrubs is rooted in pagan ritual – holly, mistletoe, laurel and boxwood were often brought inside to promote good cheer and hope. But as natural as it seems today, tree decorating to celebrate Christmas has been a controversial custom throughout history.
The association between decorating with evergreens and the pagan celebration of Saturnalia (celebrated at the same time of year) led to the Church banning such practices in the third century. John Calvin, in the sixteenth century, sought to remove Christmas from the Christian calendar altogether as he thought such celebrations promoted “irreligious frivolity.”
The Puritans in England followed suit and it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century, thanks to Prince Albert, that Christmas tree decorating achieved its present status in England. Now it seems that Christmas trees are an integral part of Holiday decorating, even in cultures that don’t celebrate the Christian faith.
As for us, we love thematic trees and each year we try something different – ribbons and bows one year, floral pins and branches the next. This year, we want to highlight a single color with balls, ornaments and garlands but with all this beautiful inspiration, which one to choose?
Photos from The New York Times, Veranda, Southern Accents, and Country Living