Victorian Christmas Decorations
for the Church and Home

Part 2

Victorian Christmas Decorations Part 2 is a continuance of Victorian Christmas Decorations for the Church and Home.


Mosaics of flowers are very beautiful, but tedious to make. A board of the right shape must be procured and covered about an inch thick with wet clay. The pattern is then set in it in immortelles, using the colours according to taste, and the ground filled up with white flowers. The immortelles, before using them, must have the stalks cut off to within three-quarters of an inch of the flower. They are set into the clay quite close. A coloured drawing of the design should first be made.

If it is large and the clay likely to get dry before it is finished, part of the clay must be laid on and covered at a time, as fresco painting is done. The clay must be thoroughly dry and hard before the work is hung up, or it will drop off. Texts, devices, or shields may be emblazoned by these means. Texts to suspend along the galleries, illuminated by hand, and illuminated shields to place in the centre of every arch where the church is built with them, or to decorate the pulpit, should first be executed in the usual way on cardboard. A frame of laths must then be made and covered with canvas or calico. It should be several inches larger every way than the drawing, which must be mounted in the centre by means of strong glue, and pressed flat till dry.

Make garlands of evergreens, and attach them to the canvas margin, so as to frame the drawing. These drawings, if carefully laid by, and the garlands removed, will be useful for many succeeding years. If other churches had similar articles, and would exchange them, it would not be a bad plan.

A lady, skilful as an artist, by employing her leisure during the year, might furnish many churches, on condition that they annually changed, so circulating their decorations.

christmas shield design using lathes

Shields might very well be executed in oil-colours. Fig. 5 gives a design for a shield of laths to be covered with canvas, and garlanded. The outline can be shaped and formed more artistically by the addition of the garland. Calico stretched on such a frame maybe worked in device or text also with leaves, and garlanded. Fig. 6, below, is an ornamented shield.

Christmas ornamented shield

Click on picture to see more detail.

Texts may also be made, and shields as well, with less trouble than drawings. For the texts, make the canvas frames, or merely take sheets of cardboard. Purchase blue, red, green, orange, and bright plum-coloured papers. Cover the cards or frames each with a different colour. On white paper draw very large the letters of the text to be illustrated. Draw smaller the same on coloured paper, drawing on the wrong side of the paper. Cut out these last letters. With gum fix them in the centre of the white ones. Cut out the whole and fix them on the coloured ground. Or merely cut out the letters, from coloured paper, and fix them on the white calico. Or fix gold and silver-paper letters on coloured grounds. Cut out the shield, either from thin wood, card, or millboard. Cover them with coloured paper. On this lay the device or text.

Christmas shields decorated

Click on picture to see more detail.

Banners of rich silk lined, or velvet, are handsome. The device may be applied with silk or satin of a different colour, first tacking it flat a little way in. Then turn in the edges and hem or stitch it down. A pretty passementerie or gold cord may be used to cover the join. Line the banner with silk or muslin, and stiff net or buckram between. Figs. 7, 8, 9, 17, 34, and 35, above, are shields with devices.

shield shapes

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Figs. 10, 11, 12 and 13, above, are shapes for shields. Figs. 14, 15, and 16, below are designs for banners.

Christmas banners

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Christmas holly border

Figs. 37 and 39, above, are designs for borders for calico texts. The centres are formed of rows of berries, with holly, ivy, or laurel-leaves, and with a gold cord through the centre.

The rest are devices for shields or banners. Or, together with the devices on the shields and banners, they may be cut out of large-sized cards or wood, covered with evergreens and immortelles, and used for decoration.

christmas double triangle banner

Fig. 33 gives the device of the double triangle. A triangle with its three sides, three in one, represents the Trinity. In the centre there is a cross, the emblem of salvation. The double triangle forms a star of six points. Fig. 15 gives a star of six points, and represents the Trinity. The circle is emblematical of eternity, for it has neither beginning nor end. In Fig. 36, I.H.S. (the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek), below, the I forms a cross. In Fig. 28, below, the I signifies Jesus, the X Christ.

Christmas cross and circle

Fig. 18 is a cross to be covered with evergreens and flowers. The circle in the centre is to be made of a piece of cane stretched round and covered with calico. On this an appropriate inscription or monogram may be placed.

Click on picture to see more detail.

Fig. 19 is St. Andrew's cross; St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, according to the mediaeval belief. Fig. 20 is the Maltese cross, used by the Knights of that island and Knights Templars. The Maltese cross is often confounded with the heraldic cross, Fig. 21. Another heraldic cross and circle, Fig. 22, is an emblem of salvation and eternity; Fig. 23, the cross trefoil, and Fig. 24, the cross pomde, are also heraldic, and so are Figs. 25 and 26; the latter is called the crosslet, or four crosses combined. Fig. 27 is a combination of the circle, the cross, and the initials of Christ.

Christmas PX

Cut out and covered with evergreen, especially holly or Cypress, mounted on a circle of calico, with a thick border of red immortelles or holly, and an outer border of leaves, it forms an excellent device. The initial letters are to be of berries or flowers. The initials I.H.S. are so generally used, that many neglect the I.H.C. (Jesus Humanitatis Consolator), equally appropriate, or the XP. signifying Christ, the first two letters of the name in Greek (ΧΡΙΣTOΣ), see Fig. 29, above.

St. George and Irish crosses

Fig. 30 is the Greek cross, and that of St. George for England: it is this which is borne on our English flag. We may observe in this place that the victory of St. George over the Dragon is an allegory typical of the conquest of sin, or extirpation of heathenism; and St. Patrick's expulsion of the reptiles from Ireland is a like fable. The cross of Iona — the Irish cross — is shown in Fig. 31. Without the circle, it would be the pectoral cross, worn by persons of distinction in early ages — that is, in the sixth century. Strange that only 500 years after the coming of Christ, such corruption should have crept into His Church as that the cross itself, by its special form, should be used as an emblem of social distinction.

Christmas Trinity PSF

Click on image to see more detail.

Fig. 32 is a very curious Christian symbol. It represents the Trinity in the triangle, each side of which proceeds from a ball or circle containing a letter of each Sacred Name. P. is for Pater, the Father, F. for Filius, the Son, S.S. for Sanctus Spiritus, the Holy Ghost. In the centre is the word Deus (God) connected by three in one again, and the words est, non est (is, and is not) contain the mystery of the Trinity in words.


For more information, see:

The beginning of this article, go to Victorian Christmas Decorations for the Church and Home.

For Part 3 of this article, go to Victorian Christmas Decorations for the Church and Home, Part 3.

And for decorations specifically for the home, see Victorian Household Christmas Decorations.


Return to top of Victorian Christmas Decorations Part 2 page.

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