Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Christmas!

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it’s “that time of year again”. Christmas decorations are going up all over Arlington Heights and the Arlington Heights Historical Museum is no different.
Here at the Museum, we have two historic houses that staff and volunteers decorate. We don’t just throw lights up though. Research and planning goes into decorating the interior of historic homes at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.

The 1906 Banta House will be fully decorated after December 15th, but the Muller House, which was built in 1882 by F.W. Muller, is fully decorated following Victorian traditions of the time, with hints of the Muller’s German heritage sprinkled throughout.  

The Christmas tree is a tradition that the Mullers would have followed. In Germany, evergreen trees were seen as a symbol of life through the dark, cold winter and Christmas trees were popular there back to the 1700s. When Prince Albert, who was German, introduced this to his wife Queen Victoria of England in 1941, it quickly took off and became wildly popular.

Victorian Christmas tree in the Muller House

The Victorian Christmas didn’t focus as much on the commercialization of the Holiday as we do now, but gifts were still important.  The Victorians began planning their presents many months ahead.  The most cherished gifts were handmade, needlework, or something useful.  People exchanged remembrances with family and friends. 

Greenery and ivy plants were also an important part of the Victorian Christmas, so the Muller House was decorated with the plants as well. Holly was believed to ward off evil spirits and ivy intertwined with the red berries represented the two halves of the divinity.

Tours of all the A.H. Museum buildings are on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 and start at the Heritage Gallery off of Fremont St. Tours are $4 for adults, $2 for kids, BUT throughout the month of December tours are free on Sundays with the donation of a canned good that will be donated to local food pantries. 

Helping your community, while learning about the heritage of Arlington Heights, that's a holiday tradition worth celebrating.