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Re: Happy Holidays to all....

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  • June
    ... I doubt that they had even a small tree... As anyone who watched any number of shows over the holiday season devoted to the history of holiday customs,
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 4, 2006
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      Muriel wrote:

      >Did they buy and decorate a large Christmas

      I doubt that they had even a small tree...

      As anyone who watched any number of shows over the holiday season
      devoted to the history of holiday customs, cutting down an evergreen
      tree, bringing it into the house, and then decorating it was purely a
      German custom. While some German immigrants to America brought the
      custom with them, it was purely a localizd and "ethnic" tradition well
      into the 19th century.

      It wasn't until Queen Victoria's German husband brought the custom to
      England, and an engraving of the royal family was published in both
      the British Isles (and Canada) and the United States, that it
      became "the" thing to do at Christmas (gave one a certain cache',
      doncha know, to do the same thing as The Royals do...)

      But even then, it was relatively slow to take off in the U.S., and
      especially in New England which, through most of the 19th century,
      looked askance at overt revelry around Christmas (many Yankees
      considered it something bad-mannered New Yorkers did), and many areas
      in New England didn't even treat December 25th as a holiday until late
      in the 19th century. Even then, most New Englanders considered it a
      day to go to church, and not a big feast day nor a day to give gifts.

      They definitely did NOT get into the idea of any sort of Christmas
      decorations, let alone a Christmas tree, until very late in the 19th
      century and into the early 20th century, when popular media was
      starting to explode and hence influence people's attitudes and

      Of course, I've been referring to the old-school, WASP Yankee stock;
      Catholic immigrants, specifically Irish and Portuguese, did celebrate
      Christmas according to the traditions of their home countries. But if
      you check the history of New England, you will find most areas didn't
      have Christmas as an official holiday until late into the 19th
      century, and some areas not until the 20th century. Meaning
      businesses were open, as were most schools.

      So Andrew Borden I think wasn't a Scrooge per se, just a typical old
      Yankee WASP who probably thought bringing a tree into the house and
      decorating it was, if not plain foolish, at least a new-fangled idea
      that made no sense and he probably saw no reason to follow what he
      probably thought of as a fad....

      They perhaps put a wreath on the door, maybe even some greenery on the
      mantel, altho I think that would be pushing it. I just can't picture
      that family going all out to decorate for Christmas, but then again
      probably most of their friends and acquaintances didn't, either. It
      just wasn't done by that class of people in that era in that place.

      And I think we can safely rule out the Bordens ever having hung
      mistletoe anywhere in their abode! ;-)

      >Did they carefully unwrap the gifts and save
      >the wrappings for the following year?

      *If* they wrapped gifts, they probably used tissue paper, which was
      pretty much the universal wrapping paper back then. By the 1890s
      there was some printed paper being made, but wrapping paper as we know
      it is pretty much a 20th century thing...

      I doubt Andrew would have approved of spending extra money on printed
      paper when tissue paper would have sufficed....

      And when the gifts were unwrapped, I'm sure the paper went into the
      fire and wasn't saved...

      >Was Andrew a father, or was he Scrooge personified?

      Probably somewhere in between, although I'm sure that he didn't see
      himself as Scrooge (and in all likelihood, neither did his wife or
      children)...as I mentioned above, ostentatious Christmas displays and
      celebrations were not done in New England until late in the 19th,
      early in the 20th century.

      Andrew, having been born and growing up in the early 19th century in
      New England, just wouldn't have had the experience of Christmas that
      we are used to. At most it was a day to spend in church, not much
      different than any Sunday. If December 25th didn't fall on a Sunday,
      it was business as usual. If word of what was considered pagan (or
      even worse, to the Puritan Yankee New Englander's mind, papal) customs
      done elsewhere in the country (especially in that God-forsaken
      metropolis to the southwest, New York City), then it was just proof of
      how sinful the rest of the nation was, and even more reason for
      sensible, God-fearing New England Yankees to turn their backs on such

      By the 1890s, the "right sort of people" in New England would have had
      Christmas trees because, as I mentioned above, it had become "the
      thing to do". But older Yankees wouldn't have cared, and since Andrew
      didn't care about having a big house, he wouldn't have cared to have a
      Christmas tree just to keep up with the Joneses (or Bordens or

      But I daresay that most of their acquaintances probably didn't have
      one, either -- so it wasn't a case of Lizzie and Emma growing up
      feeling deprived because everyone else had a tree and gifts wrapped in
      printed paper and lavish Christmas parties and celebrations -- most of
      their peers would have "celebrated" in a similar manner, meaning no
      tree, presents wrapped in plain tissue paper, very little seasonal
      decorations on or about the house.

      Perhaps bells would have been put on the horse and carriage (or
      sleigh, if there was snow) as a nod to the season, but that would have
      been about it...

      June ;-)
    • Rev COAL
      While Andrew was frugal, I don t think it was ever said that he never gave gifts, either on Christmas or on birthdays. It does make one wonder just how many
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 4, 2006
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        While Andrew was frugal, I don't think it was ever said that he never gave gifts, either on Christmas or on birthdays.

        It does make one wonder just how many toys Emma and Lizzie had as girls, tho...

        Hey, if Andrew didn't bat an eyelash over footing Lizzie's European jaunt, he probably didn't have a problem getting gifts for Lizzie, Emma, and Abby for their birthdays and Christmas.  But it was probably just one gift each.  And he probably didn't wrap them himself, if he wrapped them at all.  He probably had Abby wrap the gifts for Emma and Lizzie, and either Emma or Lizzie wrap his gift to Abby.

        And do you think he ever gave a Christmas gift to Bridget (or any of their maids)?  If not a gift, a Christmas bonus?  A card with 5 bucks in it?


        "Throw your dream into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back: a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country..."

        �������� -- Anais Nin

        From: Autumn
        Sent: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 02:26:02 -0800
        To: 40Whacks@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [40Whacks] Happy Holidays to all....

        Very interesting. I've wondered from time to time how
        the Bordens might have celebrated Christmas. I always
        had a hard time imagining them exchanging gifts since
        Andrew was so tight with a buck.


        --- PatriciaLu@... wrote:

        > In a message dated 12/25/2005 5:48:27 PM Eastern
        > Standard Time, 
        > ynrchyldzwylds_hobby@... writes:
        > How do  you think that the Borden's celecbrated
        > Christmas?
        > That is an interesting question... and out of
        > curiosity, I googled Lizzie 
        > Borden + Christmas and have two Christmas trivia
        > bits.

        > One -- The first Mrs. Borden and Andrew married on
        > Christmas day -- as an 
        > aside, I read she died of "uterine congestion" --
        > wonder what that is.

        > Two -- Found a Web site that sells crime-related
        > artifacts where there is a 
        > hand-painted plate that Lizzie made for her
        > step-mother in 1884 for Christmas
        > --  so we know they exchanged gifts -- at least that
        > year. Lizzie wrote on the
        > back  of it "Merry Christmas Mama from LIzzie 1884"
        > which seems fairly
        > affectionate --  you can see the plate at

        > _http://www.supernaught.com/crimefiles/topshelf.htm_
        > (http://www.supernaught.com/crimefiles/topshelfhtm)

        > PaT


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