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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reader’s Comments – Why Do Americans Decorate for the Seasons?

 

I thought it might be interesting to address some reader’s comments in posts, so I’m going to start a new series.  Some of these may come from email from the Home Maker’s Corner, but I think most will be comments made here at the blog.

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A year ago Joluise made a comment on my post “A Reminder for this Time of Year”.  In response to my answer she said this:

“I read a number of Christian blogs and I am fascinated by the number who "decorate" their homes for Fall. We just don't do that and find it all very strange. A number of blogs have had photos of pumpkins in all the house and decorations on their mantelpieces. I wouldn't even think of decorating for spring right now!!”

I don’t know if this custom came from other European countries or not.  I know Australia has had primarily a British influence.  I haven’t researched this subject, so take this as my opinion and observations.

First off, both the U.S. and Canada have a historical Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the harvest.  This particular holiday happening in the autumn, which is unusually beautiful in parts of North America, lends itself to decorating with the gorgeous foliage and produce of the season as well as things associated with the first Thanksgiving in the U.S. – leaves, pumpkins, Indian corn, squash, apples, grapes, acorns, etc.  Summers in North America can be long and hot in some parts, so autumn is also a welcomed relief from the heat – something worth celebrating.  Also, since school starts at the end of the summer, autumn offers the first big seasonal “craft project” opportunity for the kids.  Often these projects are items to be used for décor.

Sadly, Halloween has been built into one of the biggest holidays in the U.S.  I can’t exactly say how this happened, but due to its overtly devilish connections I’m sure that Satan has made much of the opportunity to encourage it in many ways.  The longish time period between July 4th (Independence Day) and October 31st without any significant decorating holidays, has probably contributed to people’s “need” to make it big in the U.S.

In addition, much of the U.S. and Canada have very distinct seasons.  Winter is long and dark and cold in many areas so spring is anticipated eagerly, and in some parts of the continent spring is spectacular.  When the flowers appear it’s a natural tendency to bring some inside – daffodils, tulips, pussywillows, apple blossoms, dogwood, redbud, etc.  In fact, some of the tree blossoms can be cut and brought inside to bloom early.

The spring observance of the Lord’s resurrection, which has very sadly been combined with ancient European and Middle Eastern fertility cults and so named Easter, naturally lends itself to certain springtime decorations being used since it occurs at that time of year.  May baskets, a former custom brought from the Old World, I believe, were given in some parts of the American continent at one time.

Of course, the usual decorations for the Christmas season have been around for ages and came from the Old World, again much of it dating from ancient times and other religions.  In the very early years it was not observed much or at all in parts of the U.S., and only became a huge holiday later on.  The usual firs, pine, spruce and holly were available here, but there were also other things such as bittersweet vine and cranberries which were late autumn items that could be stretched into December.

Now, I believe that one reason decorating for the seasons has become such a big deal is that the commercial world has capitalized on the already existing tendencies or interest.  The manufacturers of goods have come up with a massive array of artificial decorations and many different products.  Gardening stores, food markets and florists have offered a variety of real plants, foods, vegetables, fruits and flowers.  Seasonal sales have become a big, big deal for them all.  It is very profitable, and every year there are a number of holidays and seasons that can be used to promote sales.  In short, it’s a huge money making opportunity for them.  In somewhat more recent times Halloween, Independence Day (July 4th), Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and perhaps other days have been built into more than they originally were as well.  Pushing the “seasonal décor” relating to these holidays, in addition to the others, has increased the profits of sellers and increased the amount of purchasing and decorating being done.

It has not been that difficult to convince a willing market to increase their spending and decorating habits in relation to the seasons.  In addition to the increased advertising, DIY and crafting sources (shows, web pages, catalogs, etc.) and decorating experts have added to the “need” for seasonal décor.  They have introduced a vast array of “possibilities” and often offered products from “sponsors” to make the projects easier.  If you want to you can now redecorate your entire house for some holidays or seasons such as Christmas and autumn.  Basically it’s very clever marketing, and it works or they wouldn’t do it.

So, I guess the short answer would be that our distinct and beautiful seasons combined with the holidays being pushed and promoted by sellers of goods has resulted in a tendency of many to over-do things as far as decorating for the seasons is concerned.

For my own part, I don’t object to some modest changes of décor for the seasons.  I enjoy it and would probably bring in natural things more if I could or needed to.  As it is, I do some seasonal decorating, but mostly in one place – the dining room, and mostly on the buffet and table there. 

Fall and spring tend to be my favorites for changing up the décor, but I also have a collection of snow themed items that I use most years in the winter.  Summer is a long season here in Texas, so what I put out then stays the longest I think; and perhaps our fewer real seasons here is one reason I like to decorate a little inside.  I have pretty much limited myself to one large storage tub for my seasonal items.  Except for the natural things I sometimes use (pumpkins, squash, flowers, etc.), I store most of the items I use in that tub and try not to accumulate more than that.  I probably need to “delete” a few items.

I don’t mind changing the few items on the buffet and table, and the table sometimes gets changed randomly (a different table cloth or placemats for whatever reason).  Some few of the items are year round items that stay in the mix anyway, or can if I want them to. :-)  Some things just get moved from their normal spot to the buffet for the season so it is more rearranging those items.

My spring décor on the buffet a few years back.
The rabbit pitcher and strawberries are “regulars” in my décor elsewhere, I just moved them for the season.  Also, I’d been thinking I wanted some artificial daffodils for spring, but I didn’t buy them right away and I was so glad I didn’t because I found these with the hyacinths(?) later in a box in the garage.  I’d forgotten I had them they’d been packed up so long.  So, I got to “shop my own stuff”. :-)

My Fall décor a year or two ago.
Yes that is a rug on the right.  We got it for fifty cents at a yard sale. :-)  The beautiful doily was made by my Gramma Hoover and is a “regular” there.  I’m thinking the cat tails need to be “deleted”.

And some winter décor.
As you can see, the blue basket gets used a lot.  It isn’t always out, but I find it very versatile.  Also, the verse with the kookaburra stays all the time.  It was made for me by my Aussie sister-in-law and it goes with anything really.  The snowmen are sitting on quilt batting, in case you wondered and the poinsettia is artificial too.  I think I got it marked way down at the end of the season one year. :-)

My dining room table one year at Thanksgiving.
The “runner” is just two placemats. :-)
The leaves are artificial and were snipped from a “bush”.
I saved seeds from the little squash and my dad grew some the next couple years.

10 comments:

  1. Your seasonal touches are beautiful. I think incorporating items that are personal and have special meaning to you makes it even nicer. I agree wholeheartedly that commercialism has bullied its way into our celebrations and I shake my head about it every time I make a trip to town, but I find that I shake my head about a lot of things these days. :)

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    1. Thank you! :-) I know what you mean about shaking your head at a lot of things these days. I feel the same way.

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  2. Your decorations are really pretty! It really blessed me to see the cross-stitches on display! :) I especially love your spring décor - love the bright colours!! But I do love the blue flowers in your winter décor too, and autumn colours are very pretty. Hehe! I think what I mean to say is that they're all really beautiful. ;)

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    1. Thank you, Clara! I enjoy changing the decor from time to time. It gives a fresh feeling. I do change the tablecloth occasionally just for some event and then leave it for awhile. I need to change it now as it hasn't been done for quite awhile. For summer I just added some floral placemats on top of the lace tablecloth but under the clear vinyl. :-)

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  3. I found some lovely autumn leave fabric which make a lovely runner, perhaps I should make one and start my seasonal collection:))

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    1. Table runners are a fun and easy way to add some seasonal interest to your table. That sounds like it will be fun. I hope you blog about it when you get it done so that we can see it. :-)

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  4. Your decorations are very pretty, Mary. I especially like your snowmen. I have a soft spot for those. ♥ I really like your idea of using the place mats as a table runner. I'll have to remember that.

    I do decorate some, but my motto about pretty much everything is 'the simpler the better'. :-)

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    1. Thank you! :-) Your motto reminds me of my husband's. When I ask him why he does things the way he does he usually says, "It's easier that way." :-)

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  5. I love your decorations. I wish I had your eye for detail and arrangement. What my mother did one time was to create placemats by taking some newspapers and wrapping them in seasonally appropriate wrapping paper. The folded newspapers were just the right size for a place-setting and at the end of the meal they can just be disposed of.

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    1. Thank you! :-) I'm sure you can do something well that I can't do. We all have our own abilities and talents. If we were all the same it would be boring. :-)

      That's a good idea your mom had for making one season place mats. That would be nice for a special birthday celebration too, wouldn't it?

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