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					                                                     Page 1 – Events
                                                     Page 2 – Christmas Traditions
     Check out our website                           Page 3 – A Christmas Carol for                               Everyone
                                                     Page 4 – O’ Tannenbaum
     Click on the above link to go                   Page 5 – Christmas Cards
        directly to the website

 VSA Northstar Newsletter                                      December 20, 2006

                                         Dance Practice for Twelfth Night Gala
                                     When: Friday January 5th at 7-9pm
                                     Where: The Klub Haus
                                             1079 Rice St
                                             St Paul, MN
                                     Free to all Twelfth Night Ball ticket holders.

                                          Twelfth Night Gala:
                                     When: Saturday January 6th at 5:30 pm
                                     Where: The Klub Haus
                                             1079 Rice St
                                             St Paul, MN
                                     We shall begin at 6 o’clock in the evening with
                                     the traditional Twelfth Night custom of
                                     crowning a new King & Queen and their Royal
                                     Family which will have a seat of honor at the
                                     Gourmet Victorian Holiday Feast.
                                     Please visit the Twelfth Night Gala Website for
                                     more information.

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    LHS Dance Practice                                 Board Meeting:
When: January 19 at 7:00 p.m.                       When: Thursday January 11th at 7:30 pm
Where: Triune Masonic Lodge                               Where: TBD
        1898 Iglehart Ave.
        St. Paul, MN
                                                        Evening Soirée:
Cost: $5.00 at the door
                                                            Due to the Holidays and the 12th Night
VSA members are welcome at the Living
                                                    Ball, the next soirée will be hosted by Mr.
History Society of MN dance practices. Dances
                                                    Geraghty in
taught may include: the standard six step waltz,
mazurka, polka, and the quadrille.

     English Country Dance
Want to learn more about the country dances
that we do at our balls?
Come join the fun at Tapestry Folk Dance
When: Sunday Nights: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Where: Tapestry Folk Dance Center                        Christmas Traditions
        3748 Minnehaha Ave.
        Minneapolis, MN                                    The Christmas Traditions we know
Cost: $5.00 per session $6.00 per person on the     today have been greatly influenced by the
First Sunday of the month.*                         Victorian Era. In this Special Edition of the
*First Sundays feature live music and start at      VSA Northstar Newsletter, we are going to
6:00 pm. All dances are taught, it's lively and     delve into the romantic Victorian traditions that
fun! After a few sessions when our caller at the    have helped create Christmas what it is today.
ball says "Cast Down!" you will know what he
means! For information contact Mary Brown by                 In the early 19th century Christmas
e-mail (                           celebrations were in a decline. The medieval
                                                    traditions blended Christianity with an “ancient
                                                    Roman festival of Saturnalia (a pagan
                                                    celebration for the Roman god of agriculture),
      VSA Christmas Party Recap:
                                                    and the Germanic winter festival of Yule.”
                                  By Sarah French
                                                    Puritan’s began to question the relevance of
On December 10th, 2006 a holiday party was
                                                    these traditions under Oliver Cromwell’s
held at the home of President and Mrs.
                                                    influence. They wanted to keep Christmas
Geraghty. Everyone who attended brought
                                                    strictly a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth
dishes to share, and we had an evening of parlor
                                                    of Jesus and were on a campaign to abolish the
entertainment with readings by Ms. Mary
                                                    old customs. The Industrial Revolution also
Brown, Ms. Judy Curtiss, and a dramatic
                                                    influenced this decline by not allowing workers
recitation by Miss Sarah French.
                                                    time off during the holiday.
        A highlight of the event was admiring
the Geraghtys' house, which was built in 1892
                                                            But starting in the 1840s, Christmas
and still has many original features, such as
                                                    traditions began to take hold in England.
sliding pocket doors and a lovely staircase.
                                                    Charles Dickens wrote and published A
We were honored to have a special guest, the
                                                    Christmas Carol which romanticized the
president of the Living History Society, Mr.
                                                    holiday. Prince Albert popularized the German
William Kepler. A good time was, as usual, had
                                                    Tradition of decorating a Christmas tree in
by all.
                                                    England and the first Christmas card was sent
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                                                                   But what Dickens really did was more than
     This Month in History:                                   just write a story, he created the idea of
                                                              Romanticizing Christmas for all the social
     A Christmas Carol                                        classes.
        For Everyone
                                                                   "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable,
                                                                   pleasant time: the only time I know of in
Charles Dickens started writing his first                          the long calendar of the year, when men
                                                                   and women seem by one consent to open
Christmas story and most famous A Christmas                        their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of
Carol in October of 1843 and finished it by the                    other people below them as if they really
end of November that same year. Due to a feud                      were fellow-passengers to the grave, and
with his publishers over the price of the book,                    not another race of creatures bound on
Dickens used his own money to publish it in                        other journeys". This was what Dickens
                                                                   described for the rest of his life as the
December.                                                          "Carol Philosophy".
                              Dickens    ordered                      - Excerpt from www.
                     lavish binding, gilt edging
                     and        hand     colored
                     illustrations done by John
                     Leech.       He      wanted
                     everyone to enjoy this
                     book and priced the
                     beautiful copies at just 5
                     shillings a piece. The first
                     edition of 6,000 copies
                     sold out the first day. In
                     1844 he went on to publish
and sell 9,000 more copies but because he was
selling an expensively bound book at such a low
price. He only made 726 pounds in profit.

                                                                      -“Scrooge’s Third Visitor” by Artist John Leech
                                                              from 1840 original publication of A Christmas Carol.

                                                              Charles Dickens’ Christmas themed works:
                                                                    Christmas Carol (1843)
                                                                    The Chimes (1844)
                                                                    The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
                                                                    The Battle of Life (1846)
                                                                    The Haunted Man and the Ghost's
                                                                    Bargain (1848)
- Charles Dickens’ account with his printers the first year
of A Christmas Carol, taken from www.

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         O’ Tannenbaum                                   soon gained popularity and quickly became very
                                                         fashionable in Victorian England. The trees
                                  By Judy Curtiss        were decorated with lighted candles, candies
                                                         and fancy cakes hung from the branches by
        The origin of the first Christmas tree           ribbons and paper chains.
dates back to the Middle Ages in Western
Germany. Since few people were literate at this
time there were dramatic plays to teach the
common people about religious truths. During
the Christmas season, the Paradise play was
presented to depict the story of Adam and Eve.
On stage was an evergreen tree decorated with
apples to represent Adam and Eve's banishment
from the garden. The tree made such an impact
on the people that they began to put their own
trees in their homes during the Christmas

                                                         - 19th century Lithograph of a German family celebrating

                                                                 As German and English immigrants
                                                         introduced the Christmas tree in America, fruits,
                                                         nuts, flowers and lighted candles adorned it.
                                                         However, only the strongest trees could
                                                         withstand the great weight of all the decorations
                                                         covering it. As a result, in the 1860's, German
                                                         glass blowers in Lauscha began producing
                                                         lightweight glass balls to place on the tree.
                                                         Other early ornaments were made of lead and
                                                         formed into flat geometric shapes. German
                                                         communities such as Dresden, and the many
                                                         tiny villages of the Thuringian Mountains
                                                         became huge producers of Christmas
                                                         ornaments. In the 1870 store bought Christmas
-1860 Illustration of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert   ornaments began to replace the earlier
decorating their Christmas tree from Godley’s Ladies     homemade and edible decorations. During the
Book.                                                    1870s the first American patent was issued for a
                                                         Christmas tree stand. By the 1890s many trees
        The idea of the Christmas Tree began to          were decorated with wax figures in the shape of
spread as Germans left to settle in other areas.         children and angels. Cotton and wool
In the early 19th century German settlers brought        ornaments decorated with buttons, glass and
the idea of a Christmas tree with them to                gold paper could also be found on the Victorian
England. However, it was not until 1841 when             tree.
German born Prince Albert, consort to Queen
Victorian decorated the royal family’s first                Today the Christmas tree remains one of the
Christmas tree at Windsor Castle that the idea           most recognized symbols of the holiday season.
became popularized. At first the tree was found          Many families have their own special traditions
only in the homes of the wealthy, but the idea           involving the decorating of their tree. Yet, many
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of the early Victorian practices still remain a      some criticism because the children in the card
part of the Christmas tree tradition.                were also sipping wine and this was considered
                                                     “fostering the moral corruption of children.” But
    "The fir tree was put into a great tub           the public liked the idea so much that Christmas
    filled with sand....The servants, and the        cards became more popular through the
    young ladies also decked it out. On              following years. Today there are only 12 of the
    one branch they hung little nets, cut out        first Christmas card in existence (shown below)
    of colored paper; every net was filled           and the last one to sell at auction sold for over
    with sweetmeats; golden apples and               $40,000.
    walnuts hung down as if they grew
    there, and more than a hundred little
    candles, red, white and blue, were
    fastened to the different boughs. Dolls
    that looked exactly like real people.....
    The tree had never seen such
    before.....swung among the foil age,
    and high on the summit of the Tree was
    fixed a tinsel star. It was splendid."
                         -Hans Christian Anderson

         Christmas Cards                                     Christmas cards became a very elaborate
                                                     trend and were designed by popular artists and
                        By Deborah Lundberg          many cards were handmade. People even
                                                     bought the cards then embellished them more
        Christmas Cards are so closely               before they were sent out. They were decorated
associated with Christmas that we forget there       with fringe, silk, satin, tinsel, sachets, and
was a time when they didn’t exist. Before the        feathers. Cut into shapes such as flowers, fans,
1840s letters were written to family and friends     birds, or candles. Some were fitted together like
around the holiday times. Christmas cards were       puzzles or folded like maps while others
started by one person to ease his burden of letter   squeaked. Pop-up cards revealed tiny mangers
writing during the holidays.                         or skaters. Novelty cards were popular
                                                     especially those that played a trick or worked
        In 1843 Sir Henry Cole, the founder of       mechanically. Most of the early cards had
the Victoria and Albert Museum in London,            nothing to do with the religious theme at all.
decided that he had too many Christmas letters
to write and commissioned his artist friend John             One of the major factors that helped the
Calcott Horsley to paint a card that could be        Christmas card industry grow was the start of
reproduced with the same greeting to send to         the Penny Post in Britain. Before 1840 the post
family and friends. Mr. Horsley painted a            was based on mileage and paid by the recipient
triptych, the center panel displayed a happy         upon delivery. The Penny Post was much
family embracing, sipping wine and enjoying          simpler system; a penny stamp paid for the
the festivities, the left panel showed the feeding   postage of a letter or card to anywhere in Britain
of the poor, and the right panel showed the          and was paid by the sender. In 1870 a half
clothing of the poor. The greeting stated A          penny postage rate was introduced as a result of
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to              the efficiencies brought by the new invention of
You. Sir Henry Cole had 1,000 cards                  the railways.
lithographed and hand colored. The leftovers he
sold in an art shop. This card was met with

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         - Late 19th century L. Prang Advertisement.

        The United States didn’t get into the
Christmas card trend until the 1870s. There
were no American greeting manufacturers and
most greeting cards had to be imported from
Europe. Louis Prang, a German lithographer             -1882 Louis Prang Christmas Card.
                                                       The text reads:
who immigrated to the United States, set up a               “The Glory of the world is come and fit it is we
printing business in Boston in 1850. Prang                  find a roome to welcome Him. The nobler part
invented the technique of chromolithograph to               of all the house here is the heart.”
reproduce oil paintings with more detail.                             “Merry Christmas”
                                                                      “Happy New Year”
                                                                “May you have all this time bequeaths of
         In 1873, Prang promoted his business in       comfort and content this my sampler is with greetings
a Vienna exhibition by handing out decorated           sent with Hollie and with Ivie leaves.”
business cards using his new process. The next
year he printed holiday greeting cards and sent
them to England for sale. By 1875, Prang started       The printing process
to sell his greeting cards in the United States.            The early cards between 1860 and 1890 are
                                                       the most collectible today. They were
       Desperate for beauty and culture,               lithographed, a printing process that reproduced
Americans bought the beautifully made cards            the colorful paintings of the popular artists of
and the trend began in earnest in the US. Prang        the time.
even held contests where artists could submit a              “Artwork was copied onto specially
design in the hopes of winning cash prizes up to            prepared limestone using crayons or
$1,000. By 1881 Prang was printing up to 5                  greasy ink, the stone was then wet with
million Christmas cards a year. But the                     water and the portions not covered with
chromolithograph cards were not cheap to                    the crayons absorbed the moisture. An
produce, the prices ranged from $ .75 to $1.25              oily ink was then rolled over the stone
per card.      German manufacturers started                 and adhered only to the portions not
marketing cheaper and inferior cards to the US              wet, since the water repelled the oily
and by the early 1890’s Prang left the greeting             ink. The stone was then pressed on
card industry. It would not be until the start of           paper to produce the image.          To
WWI that German made cards were removed                     produce multiple color images several
from American shelves.                                      stones have to be used one for each
                                                            color. The print would have to make
                                                            multiple passes through the process,
                                                            one for each stone.”

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The paper had to be aligned just right so the
colors were pressed into the correct places.
Artists still hand colored the lithographs after
the printing process to add more details to the                                       A
cards.                                                                               Special

                                                    Thank you to the following contributors toward
                                                    this month’s Articles:
                                                           Laura McBeth
                                                           Judy Curtiss
                                                           Sarah French
-1876 Lithograph New Years card made by Currier &
                                                    If you would like to contribute to the VSA
        Chromolithography was also used for         Northstar Newsletter please email the Editor,
the printing of cards; this process extended the    Deborah Lundberg at
range of colors by using multiple tiny blocks       All information is due by the 15th of each month
pressed in sequence instead of stones. Up to 45     for that month’s issue.
color plates were use to print one picture. The
uses of bright and sometimes gaudy colors were
popular with this process late in the nineteenth
century. Chromolithography was an expensive
process and usually used for large scale folio
works and the printing of illuminated gift cards.

        The steam driven printing press and
cheaper paper stock helped to reduce the cost of
the Chromolithography process but in the late
1880 the photographic process was being
developed and this would eventually replace

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