Friday, November 21, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Yes, it's nearly that time.  Many of us will be reaching for Antique Santas and vintage ornaments.  I'd like to share a few thoughts on antique Christmas dolls, and direct our readers to photographs of Santa and company that they may enjoy.


Christmas is a combination of religious holiday and secular celebration.  Some of the customs we share, like gift giving, go beyond the roots of the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  For example, Janet Pagter Johl writes in The Fascinating Story of  Dolls, that little girls in Ancient Rome were given dolls as gifts during Saturnalia.  Ancient Egyptians allegedly dragged palm rushes into their homes during the Solstice. The Ancient Celts dragged evergreen trees into their temples as good luck tokens; evergreens really do seem to be immortal and last forever.


Christmas Trees became popular with Prince Albert and Queen Victoria; becaus of their popularity, they made their way to America.  But, the first trees date tothe 16th century in Germany, and were called Paradise Trees, decorated with apples to celebrate the feast of Adam and Eve, December 24th.


Beloved author and aritst Tasha Tudor, author of  The Dolls' Christmas, A is for Annabelle, and other books featuring dolls, has written a gorgeously illustrated book on Christmas and its history called Take Joy.  Dolls and old decorations are mentioned, and I highly recommned it for anyone interested in antique Christmas, dolls, or Tudor herself.




Santa has his origins primarily in St. Nicholas, who made sure three poor sisters had a dowry by filling their shoes with gold in the middle of the night.  There are other gift givers out there, too, though, all over the world.  Many of the antique Santas and Belsnickles we treasure have origins in Germany, or are representation of the English Father Christmas.  Santa as we know him appeared in the mid-19th century, and is the creation of political cartoontist, Thomas Nast.  Some Victorian Santas wore pink, or patriotic attire.  German papier mache examples are often candy boxes disguised as dolls.




The Christmas Fairy who tops the tree also has her origins in German and English folklore, and the Christmas Angel is often made of wax or bears an antique china head.  Holt Howard made  china heads for angels with feathered bodies in teh 40s and 50s, and Annalee dolls began making their holiday felt creations by then. The December Issue of  Antique Doll Collector Magazine features an article on the history of The Christmas Fairy, too. There is also a beautiful piece on Neopolitan and  Nativity figures.




For more images of vintage and antique Christmas, go to The Golden Glow of Christmas Past  Facebook page.


Sweden has its vintage Christmas dolls made of straw and wood; what tree is complete without its Santa Lucia ornament?  For the record, I could sing the entire song dedicated to her in Swedish when I was 7 years old!


Christmas always meant dolls for me, whethere they were Nativity figures, ornaments, or gifts.  My mother would "kidnap" one of the dolls every Christmas and make him or her new clothes.  She looked all year for antique dolls to use as gifts, and one year,  I got two china heads!  Not bad for an 8  year old!


This year, perhaps you could share with us what your favorite Christmas doll was, if you still have her, and how dolls will share in your Christmas celebration this year.  You can use the comment boxes by just clicking on them to answer.



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