These 16 photos offer a rare peek at how extravagantly Victorian churches were decorated for Christmas

Victorian churches at Christmastime

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The Christmas decorations in Victorian churches could be extremely lush

Victorian Christians were faithful practitioners of their religion, and took special care decorating their churches for Christmas.

Since they didn’t have strings of electric lights, artificial Christmas trees and garlands, nor any of the mass-produced Christmas decorations we rely on today, they had to get creative with more organic materials that could be gathered locally.

Victorians decorated for Christmas using a variety of fresh, organic items like installing live Christmas trees, hanging evergreen garlands, and wreaths.

They strung ribbon and strands of beads around the church — displaying arrangements of pinecones, holly, and pine boughs on the altar, adorning the pulpit with more evergreens, and filling vases with flowers.

Even using such simple, natural materials, Victorian church Christmas decor could be lush and extravagant — and it must have smelled completely divine (as it should, in celebration of such a holy event!).

These antique photos taken inside Christian churches all across the country during the 1800s and early 1900s offer a rare peek at how the Victorians decorated their churches for Christmas, from simple to splendid.

Victorian churches decorated for Christmas…

The Congregational Church, in Wilbraham, Mass. decorated for Christmas

The Congregational Church, in Wilbraham, Mass. decorated for Christmas


Interior of Winthrop Church decorated for Christmas, about 1900

Interior of Winthrop Church decorated for Christmas, about 1900


Victorian Christmas tree at the Congregational Church in Maine

Even simple Christmas decorations in Victorian churches were meaningful. The decorations on this tree read mercy, love, hope, salvation, charity, peace, providence, and others

Victorian Christmas tree at the Congregational Church in Maine


First Congregational Church in Connecticut at Christmas

As seen after a Christmas concert on December 25, 1872

1st Congregational Church in CT after concert Dec 25 1872


St Mary of the Assumption Church in Brookline Village, Mass

This church was elegantly decorated for Christmas (colorized photo)

ALSO SEE: See the light! Antique stained glass church window designs (1924)

St Mary of the Assumption Church in Brookline Village, Mass. decorated for Christmas - Colorized


Christmas decorations at Church of the Redeemer, Astoria, New York (1898)

Lavish use of heavy festoons of evergreen gave a rich effect at a Christmas service.

Victorian-era Christmas decorations at Church of the Redeemer, Astoria, New York (1898)


The Victorian-era Moravian Church at Hope, Indiana (1898)

This picture shows what may be accomplished by twining evergreen about hoops of various sizes.

Victorian-era Moravian Church, Hope, Indiana (1898)

This shows another view of the same church. Compare the design with that in the picture above.

Victorian-era Moravian Church at Hope, Indiana (1898)


Victorian Christmas decor from 1876

In this colorized photo, see the First Parish Church in Stoughton, Massachusetts, as it looked back in 1876.

ALSO SEE: Getting ready for a Victorian wedding: Church decor & flowers (1893)

First Parish church Stoughton Mass. Christmas 1876 (colorized)


Christmas decorations at the Congregational Church in Wyanet, Illinois (1898)

Christmas bells, over the reading desk, added to the prettiness of the decorations.

Victorian-era Congregational Church at Wyanet, Illinois (1898)


The Christmas holiday at Saint Andrew’s Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey (1898)

These decorations show that even a simple design may be beautiful.

Victorian-era Saint Andrew's Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey (1898)


Victorian holiday decor at Methodist Episcopal Church at Hurlock, Maryland (1898)

Holly was used to decorate Victorian churches. Lilies and other plants added a touch of beauty.

Victorian-era Methodist Episcopal Church at Hurlock, Maryland (1898)


All Saints Memorial Church – Providence, Rhode Island (1800s)

ALSO SEE: 10 Victorian Christmas side dishes from the 1800s – most of which actually sound pretty good

All Saints Memorial Church - Providence, Rhode Island - Victorian Christmas


Presbyterian Church, San Diego, California decorated for Christmas (1898)

In some Victorian churches at Christmastime, light strands of greenery were used to secure a drapery-like effect.

Victorian-era Presbyterian Church, San Diego, California (1898)


Old-fashioned Christmas decor at Church of the Disciples, Boston (1898)

Some Victorian churches created a solid greenery effect obtained by skillful use of simple materials for their Christmas decor.

Victorian Christmas decor at Church of the Disciples in Boston (1898)


An old-fashioned Victorian Christmas wreath

Old-fashioned Victorian-era Christmas wreath


Antique 1880s Christmas card – woman at church

SEE MORE! 150 Victorian Christmas cards: Antique holiday greetings from the 1800s range from quaint to extremely weird

Antique 1880s Christmas card - woman at church

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