The Christmas decorations in Victorian churches could be extremely lush
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
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
First Congregational Church in Connecticut at Christmas
As seen after a Christmas concert on December 25, 1872
St Mary of the Assumption Church in Brookline Village, Mass
This church was elegantly decorated for Christmas (colorized photo)
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.
The Victorian-era Moravian Church at Hope, Indiana (1898)
This picture shows what may be accomplished by twining evergreen about hoops of various sizes.
This shows another view of the same church. Compare the design with that in the picture above.
Victorian Christmas decor from 1876
In this colorized photo, see the First Parish Church in Stoughton, Massachusetts, as it looked back in 1876.
Christmas decorations at the Congregational Church in Wyanet, Illinois (1898)
Christmas bells, over the reading desk, added to the prettiness of the decorations.
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 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.
All Saints Memorial Church – Providence, Rhode Island (1800s)
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.
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.
An old-fashioned Victorian Christmas wreath
Antique 1880s Christmas card – woman at church