Sunday, December 6, 2015

Green Christmas a hard sell

Potted citrus tree decorated for the holidays
Florida citrus made for unique holiday decor at my
house one year. The Satsuma tree survived the
cat's curiosity and was later planted in the garden.
(Gerri Bauer photo)
In 1892, editor Walter N. Pike of the Floral Department section of the Florida Agriculturist decried the:
 "... almost utter indifference shown by the people of Florida for the unlimited profusion of holiday 'greenery' with which our woods abound. Every home in  Florida might be decorated during the approaching holidays in a manner that would cost a round sum in the northern cities."
Note the reference to the "approaching" holidays. The article was published on Dec. 21. Nobody hung mistletoe in October back then.

But in December they embraced the era's trends in holiday decor: "... glass ornaments and gold cardboard camels, storks, peacocks, pianos, and sailboats ..." according to the 2001 book,  Guide to American Popular Culture, by Ray Broadus Browne and Pat Browne. Also available were wax angels, silver foil icicles, blown-glass storybook characters, and tinsel garland. Greenery paled by comparison.

Mr. Pike was undeterred in promoting his cause. He gave examples of decorative materials that required naught but "the mere labor of gathering" (the following capitalizations and descriptions are his, not mine):

  • magnificent clumps of Mistletoe, fresh, unwilted and unbroken
  • stately Palms
  • long-leaved needle pines
  • lovely silvery-grey Spanish Moss
  • waxen, shining Magnolias
  • crimson-berried Holly
  • graceful wild Smilax vines
"All of these are shipped North in great quantities at this season of the year, and find ready sale there," he wrote.

You know, he was right. And still is. All these are still available, if not as abundant as in the past. I've used many as decorations here and there over the years. Before we ran out of room on our property, my husband and I decorated potted trees for Christmas and then planted them after the holidays. Magnificent they weren't, but they were fun. The year of the Satsuma citrus Christmas tree is pictured with this blog. Other years we had cedar, pine, and holly. 

The holiday greens of the 1890s and today were/are native Florida flora. Which can't be said for laser lights, icicle strands, inflatable Santas, and twinkling reindeer. I'm a big fan of a green Christmas. Especially when the greenery is highlighted by strands of blue icicle lights.  Merry Christmas to all.

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