A Christmas Tree For Christ’s Children | Tabletop tree (1859)

19th century tabletop Christmas tree, living orange tree

This image of a family gathered around a tabletop Christmas  tree is taken from A Christmas Tree for Christ’s Children, a story published in 1859 by the General Protestant Episcopal S. School Union and Church Book Society. I’m sharing an excerpt which includes a description of what appears to be a typical nineteenth century Christmas tree, but if you go on to read the full story you’ll find that there are also some rather unusual tree trimmings such as a serpent and a cross, and that the tree is used as part of this family’s bible lesson.

It took them a long time to look all over it, and they were not satisfied till they had done so. The Tree was a real growing orange-tree, which Mr. Oldham had had brought in from the conservatory, and had real oranges growing upon it, though only very small ones, except one or two which were riper than the rest; and besides, there were sweetmeats of all kinds, and a great number of beautiful fancy figures, all hung round in the branches; and then there were wax-lights all burning in the tree, and the light from them was reflected from the figures, and the crystals of sugar on the sweetmeats, just like bright diamonds, so that the children, one and all, declared they had never seen any thing half so pretty.


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