artNotes from Hyde House: Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!  


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from artCentral! For thirty-seven years artCentral has been sharing and celebrating the traditions of this beautiful season with all you makers and lovers of art. We are blessed!

These colder, shorter days are perfect for festive activities with family and friends and in contemplative solitude—decorating our homes, enjoying festive food and drink and stepping outdoors to take refreshing winter walks.

We have our British Victorian ancestors to thank for many of our favorite holiday traditions, including sending cards and decorating Christmas trees. Before the 19th Century, Christmas was hardly celebrated in Britain.


Until the Puritans successfully banned the festivities in the 17th century, the Lord of Misrule was a central historic figure in British Christmas celebrations. He was an elected official who coordinated the season’s revels for the Tudor court as well as in noble homes throughout the kingdom. The concept of misrule honored an annual reversal of traditional social groups. The poor and servants were given boxes of food.

When the Victorians rediscovered Christmas they created Christmas cards and the belief that Christmas was a time for family. In 1843 John Calcott Horsley sent the first printed Christmas card to his friend, Sir Henry Cole. Though Horsley’s card stirred some controversy with the image of a small child drinking wine, still the sending of cards became popular.

The Christmas tree was first introduced in the UK in 1800 by Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. She carried the tradition from her native Germany, where having a Christmas tree in your home was a common custom. When the yew tree she requested was brought to the Queen’s Lodge in Windsor, she did the decorating.

Believed to be the figure on which the modern day Santa Claus is based, Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century archbishop and patron saint of girls and boys in what is now Turkey. Father Christmas first appeared during the 1650s, when the Puritans banned the festive season. The wise old man appeared on pamphlets praising the revels of the past above the gloom of that present day. During the Victorian period he began being identified as a gift-giver.

St Nicholas was added back into the mix in 1822 when Clement C Moore, a Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, Divinity and Biblical Learning, at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church where I attended in New York City, wrote his poem “T’was The Night Before Christmas”, which led to the creation of the modern Santa Claus.

Today Christmas is often denoted as Xmas, which many interpret as leaving Christ out of the season. Looking at history we find the abbreviation Xmas was first used in 15th century ecclesiastical writings. The X originally represented the first letter of the Greek word Xριστóς, meaning Christ, and so the birth of Jesus is still the centerpiece of the Christian Christmas.

Grateful for the all traditions we celebrate, artCentral joins Tiny Tim as together we say, “God bless us, every one.”