A Winter’s Tale

Open December 5, 2015 – March 2016

The Costume Museum

On Saturday, December 5th, the Society is opening its latest costume exhibit, A Winter’s Tale, featuring winter fashions of 1890 to 1910.

By the 1880s, Christmas was a big event.  Victorians sent lavish Christmas cards similar to Valentines or painted their own scenes.  Christmas trees were featured, a tradition said by some to have come to America with the Hessian soldiers serving with the British Army during the American Revolution.  The early trees were decorated with nuts, cornucopias filled with candies, strings of popcorn, and cranberries.   In about the 1860s, glass trinkets began to replace edible ornaments and candles were an important part of the decoration of trees, until 1907 when electric lights began to replace them.

Gifts were planned well in advance of the holiday.  Many were handmade and would be sewed, knitted, sawed, and painted behind closed doors.  According to Satenig St Marie, writer for Victorian Homes, gifts were tokens of love made to please each member of the family. The exchange of gifts was often the highlight of Christmas Day.

The last scene in the exhibit features many of the pleasures of a Victorian Christmas: mistletoe ball, gifts, the Christmas tree, and figures in festive dress.