If you enjoy creative holiday decorating with friends, then you’ll love the wreath-making workshop this Saturday at the Van Vleck House & Gradens. In seasons past, I’ve plunged in with pliers, branch cutters and friends – enjoying a relaxing afternoon in a pine-scented room. You make your own party favor at this event, bringing home a bushy, festive 14-inch wreath (don’t mind the sap on your hands).
The workshop will be led by author, lecturer, horticulturist Marta McDowell, who will show you how to fashion a gorgeous wreath with natural materials, and cuttings from the VVH&G grounds. Marta teaches landscape history and preservation at the New York Botanical Garden and Drew University, and teaches gardening classes for the Chautauqua Institution.
Saturday, December 5, 10:00-12:00pm, $55/members, $65/non members, all materials included. Space is limited, reserve asap. VAN VLECK HOUSE & GARDENS, 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair. (973) 744-4752
Spectacular Seasonal Spectator Event: Montclair will light up the town’s giant holiday tree during the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday, December 4, at 6:00 p.m., at Church Street’s plaza. Montclair Community Band will play familiar holiday tunes adding to the evening festivities in downtown Montclair. Have a picture taken with Santa Claus ($3.00, framed). Church Street will be closed to vehicular traffic at 5 p.m. On Saturday, December 5, Santa will be making appearances on a fire truck all around Montclair. Find out where you’ll catch up with him, on BaristaKids.
Plan ahead for all your holiday events, check the Baristanet Calendar.

Send us pictures of spectacular and unusual decorations in Baristaville; we’ll put together a slide show. Check out the decorations at Anthropologie made of recyclable materials…

34 replies on “Holiday Decorating Alert”

  1. How about Holiday parking? Are the meters going to be bagged like they always have been? I know the MEDC used to sponsor it in the past, but they’re not around anymore. It would be a shame if Montclair is the only town in the area not doing it. Hopefully the town has already planned to continue the meter bagging for at least a couple weeks.

  2. herbervschmel,
    a Holiday Tree is a tree that people put in their homes over the Holidays. Said holidays may include (God forbid) a Jewish holiday known as Hanukah, not to be confused with a Christian holiday known as Christmas. Holiday Trees look just like Christmas Trees, except, often, there are no overt Christian symbols hanging from the tree.
    These trees are especially handy when
    A. The couple is of mixed religions.
    B. The couple do not believe that Jesus is the answer, but likes the festive feel of the tree.
    C. Any other reason.
    After all, it is a free country.

  3. Apparently, it doesn’t, Mrs. M, but some Jews tell me they like the tree anyway, so they buy one.

  4. It’s a holiday. The midwinter solstice has been celebrated for a long time and predates Christianity and Judaism which is why the Christians decided to make this time of year the big holiday. Many of our “religious” holidays coincide with natural seasonal changes and the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere gets cold and dark and it’s nice to have a reason for a holiday this time of year whatever one’s beliefs or non-beliefs. We’re all human and we all celebrate life. Happy Holidays to all!

  5. Someone explained once that the birth of Jesus was in the spring sometime, but that the birthdate was moved to the winter solstice to make it more appealing to pagans who were already celebrating the solstice. Can anyone confirm this?

  6. Thanks jg, good holiday wishes to you too!
    We have a tree every year but we are not religious in the least. To me it embodies all the positive things about the season – seeing family & friends, giving, good will toward men and women. I’m actually quite glad to see the tree going back to representing the season for everyone and not just Christians.

  7. Right yopu are Spiro, they still argue about when Christ was born, but it was most likely not December. Back when they were trying to get the pagans to convert the Pope decided that celebrating Christ’s birthday on Dec 25th would make the conversion a bit easier for the Roman’s who had their winter celebration at that time. Many of the Christmas traditions we know originate from non-Christian practices, mostly northern European and mostly related to the end of the growing season or the harvest and fertility and the new growing season to come. Mistletoe, the Yule log, bringing evergree boughs or live trees into your home, all were pre-christian practices.
    The real irony is that at certain points in Christian history the tree as a holiday symbol was seen as unchristian.

  8. Fascinating, State S P, that you already have a thumbs down on your earnest explanation.
    Looks like the trolls are surfing again.

  9. Jerseygurl, and divers others (I’m talking to YOU, Spiro T., who clearly cannot resist being a blowhard), enough with the reliance on misnformation. The “midwinter solstice” was not celebrated for a long time before the advent of Christianity. The Roman feast of “Sol Invictus” (the “unconquered sun) is approximate to both the early days of Christianity and the dying days of the Empire. And no one has any idea who, or who, “primitive” man worshipped. It is not the solstices that is usually marked by megalithic sites in the UK and Brittany, by the way, but rather the cycles of the moon.
    As for mistletoe, while classical Roman writers did report that mistletoe was sacred to the Druids, they never supplied any reasons as to why. Its supposed sacralness, however, does come from about the beginning of the Christian era. There is much more misinformation ahove, but I’m tired and it’s late…
    The truly curious, however, are urged to read any of Professor Ronald Hutton’s books on folklore, customs and the passage of the ceremonial year, at least as starting points, plus his studies of the ancient religions of the British Isles and of the dubious historical roots of Wicca. And any gloss on the archaeological work of Professor A. Thom and his associates, as well as the books by Thom himself. This is much better than merely positing a lot of questionable guff about the “origins” of the celebration of Christmas.
    No, nonetheless, no one has any idea when Christ was born (even if that pro-Roman sellout Flavius Josephus clearly knew people who’d actually met or at least seen him). But the reasons the early Church fathers settled on December are generally taken to have been a lot more complex than a mere desire to co-opt a pagan festival.

  10. Cathar, the midwinter solstice, along with other natural astronomical cycles was indeed noted and often celebrated and almost every culture had some version that recognized rebirth that involved festivals and rituals on what was considered, for many, the beginning or middle of winter. This includes the Chinese (Dongzhi), the Romans (Saturnalia), the Jews (Tekufat Tevet) the Celts, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and most peoples of Northern Europe. I honestly don’t know if the Church co-opted the day and my point is that it doesn’t matter. If that’s the day you want to celebrate the birth of Christ then go ahead. It does not mean there is no other reason to celebrate since the celebration of the cycle of life and rebirth has long been part of most cultures and just happened to fall around the same time every year. So Merry Christmas to you too, grumpy pants. And Happy Holidays is just as appropriate.

  11. I saw a few homeowners getting started on their holiday decorations this past weekend. I used to put about 5,000 white lights in the evergreens in front of my house. It was hard work and the electrical cost tripled while they were on. Now we just put our tree in front of the big picture window in our living room. It looks nice from inside and out.
    We use an artifical tree. It’s about 20 years old and still is holding up quite nicely. I’ll get a wreath for the front door.
    Decorating is quite a bit of work, consuming a couple of days on either side of the holday. Some years we don’t get into it, especially when there has been a death in the family (human or pet) or when one’s only surviving family member is dying.
    Still, this can be a really magical time of year.
    I offer a poem written in memory of a beloved pet, “Burt”, who died Dec 21, 1997. He was at Brookside Veterinary Clinic and we knew he didin’t have long. We took him out behind the clinic for a short walk on a beautiful December morning before taking him home for his final days.
    A Christmas Reflection
    Sunshine and crisp, clean Winter air
    Ah, now that’s more like it
    To be outside where the wild things live
    That is enough for me
    I love this time of year
    The long nights, the bright lights
    All the busy people, the delicious smells
    The music and the sights
    Christmas has come again
    My sweet, sweet sixteenth
    I think this one will be my last
    For I am tired and soon will sleep
    So goodbye to you all
    All my treasured friends
    I will never forget your kindness and love
    I hope that you will remember me and smile
    December 14, 1997

  12. MB2 —
    Your poem will resonate with all pet owners (I’m tearing up just writing this). We have three dogs who bring more joy to our lives than I can possibly say. We are blessed.
    Thank you so very much for this beautiful poem.
    Burt sounds like a wonderful boy.

  13. festive ornamentation both inside and out, a celebration of life, a joyous reminder of our blessings, a human expression predating recorded history

  14. Holiday decorations, herb, are decorations used to enhance festive events.
    They can include Easter bunnies, carved pumpkins, witches on broomsticks, Christmas trees, holiday trees, American flags, and so on.

  15. I read all the comments above with interest. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in there. I, too, always thought that the Christmas season corresponded with the lengthening of the days. But why Dec. 25th? Why not Dec. 21, the actual solstice?
    At any rate, Cathar is right in that no one can really seem to agree on the actual date of Jesus’ birth. I’ve read April, August, October.
    As far as the new year goes, I never felt as if January 1 reflected the new year, even though I celebrate with everyone elese. To me, the new year begins in the Spring, on March 20, the vernal equinox.
    Whatever you celebrate, have a joyous holiday season!

  16. I know you mean well, Mrs. M, but you are creating a hostile environment for those people who don’t celebrate anything. The Non Celebrants, or NCs (pronounced “Nicks”), as they’re called, broke off a few years ago from the Church of Those Who Lack God and Humor.

  17. OK, so have a happy non-holiday (sorta like the UnCola?) to all the NCs. And lest’s not forget “Festivus for the Rest of Us.”

  18. What a lovely poem, MB. It really hits home because one of my cats is dying of colon cancer. She is a real trooper and is hanging in, but serious illness always seems more heartbreaking at this time of year, whether it be a human or beloved pet. I want to go away to visit family for Christmas, but the thought of leaving her is heart-wrenching.
    There are people out there dealing with bad things, so regardless of what we celebrate, this is the time of year to reach out to those less fortunate and in pain.

  19. My dog died on a ‘holiday ‘ last year..go figure..not a pleasant day at Herbs house. Anyway just adopted a new doggie woggie..i give those shelter volunteers a lot of credit.

  20. Nellie,
    I’m sorry to hear about your cat. The price we pay for loving these amazing creatures so fiercely is the sorrow we must experience when they depart for the ‘Rainbow Bridge’.
    I wish you peace for this holiday season and know that your love will sustain you during this difficult time.

  21. Please call it a Christmas Tree; if you want to celebrate another religious custom, put a (insert alternative religious symbol) next to it.
    Why try to do something pseudo politically correct if it just causes different problems instead of solving them?

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