A set of 4 themed Christmas decorations for hanging on the tree.  These are made primarily of painted wood, and have a rustic, naive feel about them.  They are in the form of a toy soldier in his guard box, a Santa sitting in a Xmas tree, a rockinghorse and two children on a sledge.  They are extremely simple in design, mostly red and white, with gold painted highlights here and there.  They each have a gold twine hanging loop.

They are all part of the western Christmas tradition which started in Victoria’s reign, and which has become embedded in our culture.  Prince Albert first popularised the concept of bringing an evergreen tree into the house to decorate at this time of year, and many of the icons we now associate with Christmas come from the 19th century.  For instance, the popularity of toy soldiers and rockinghorses as gifts for modern children has completely waned – but because they represent the epitome of excitement for children from Victorian times, they remain as traditional Christmas decorations.  Similarly, candy canes, drums, trumpets, train sets, teddies and dolls.

This particular set probably date from the late 20th century.

Key theme(s):


More information:

Date 1990s, 2000s, 1980s
Material(s) Wood
Item number MBPO275

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • When would your family put up your Christmas decorations - do you remember?
  • Did your family have any particular traditions associated with putting up the decorations? Were there specific roles? Did you eat or drink anything special?

User Stories

Between the ages of about 5 and 10 (in the 1960’s) I remember my sister and I reaching a peak of excitement when Dad would bring down from the loft a battered old cardboard box (originally for an Alice in Wonderland tea set) packed full of garishly coloured glass tree ornaments.  The first job was always to see which, if any, baubles had been broken since last year – there always seemed to be at least one, and as we had our favourites, it felt like a lottery waiting to see if yours had made it through the last 12 months intact!

There they were in all their tasteless tackiness!  Bright blues, gaudy pinks and bilious yellows.  We thought they were the height of gorgeousness, but wouldn’t have one anywhere near a tree of ours nowadays!  Mum would be in charge of putting the multicoloured tree lights on first.  We would drape them across the floor to check they all worked.  Dad would magically have spares in case some didn’t light up.  Then Mum would begin the dressing of the tree, and I (as the older child) would be given the job of following along with a little ball of cotton-wool to put over each light bulb.  At the time I thought this just lent the scene a rather romantic, misty look – but in retrospect, I think Mum and Dad were probably just trying to tone the whole thing down somewhat!  After the lights, the baubles would all go on, with Mum having the final say of where each item should go – no two similar shapes or colours next to each other.  Finally, we draped lengths of lametta (also called angel hair??) over the longer branches just to add a bit more bling and sparkle.  There was a gold star for the top made out of pipe cleaners.  Perfect!

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