A Civil War Christmas is celebrated each year at Hallauer House Bed & Breakfast. As a guest you can enjoy a Civil War Christmas tree right in your bedroom. In the Music Room you can relax beside another decorated tree. Play Christmas songs on the piano or the guitar and sip wine in front of the crackling fire by the wood burning stove.
This year we brought home what the tree grower called a ‘pocket tree.’ I could find no reference on the internet for ‘pocket tree’ but I will take the word of the grower. His explanation was that this kind of tree is grown to have ‘pockets’ or space between the branches thereby allowing large ornaments to hang better. There would also be spaces to hide little presents. This tree is also unusual in that it has small needles growing from the trunk. A visual to explain this is better so check the pictures above. I tried to get a good close up to show the pockets and the needles in the trunk.. Anyway, after 50 years of buying Christmas trees this one is my favorite!
Decorations for the Civil War Christmas tree
So when we decided to put a Civil War Christmas tree in each guest room I did some research. In order to be somewhat authentic I needed to learn about the ornaments and decorations of the period. Christmas was relatively new before the Civil War period.
The decorated tree began in Germany in the 1800’s and slowly made it’s way to the U.S. By 1860 decorating for Christmas was becoming more widespread. There were some commercial ornaments available but most of the decorating was with natural items.
Pine cones, popcorn balls, nuts, and dried fruit were all very common. It was a family affair to put the popped popcorn and the cranberries on a string and use as garland around the tree. Cones were made out of paper, filled with hard candy and placed on the tree. Small penny rug ornaments were made and hung on a branch. Little toys, balls wrapped in burlap, paint sets, and chalk boards were just some of the things that adorned the 1860 tree. Finally small candles were attached to the ends of some branches. Then on Christmas Eve and Christmas day the candles were lit for a very SHORT time. And we have ‘candles’ on our Civil War trees. Thankfully they are electric but the effect is there!
Christmas during the War
The soldiers did not fare as well as their families back home. The kind of Christmas celebration during war depended on where the soldiers were stationed. Some were able to decorate trees around the camp using hard tack and salt pork. The soldiers would sing Christmas carols, some of which are still sung today. A few of these are “Deck the Halls”, “Hark the Harold Angels Sing,” “Jingle Bells”, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Some troops received special meals but most did not. Some received some gifts of food, socks, and books. After one battle ended the Union soldiers placed tree branches on the head gear of the horses to make them look like reindeer. Then went around the area and distributed food to the starving people. Even though it was Christmas the war waged on for four years.
So the 1830 Hallauer House Bed & Breakfast is all decked out for the holiday and we invite you to join us! Come for a holiday get away while shopping in Oberlin and the other small towns in the area. Or come by or call to purchase a Gift Certificate for a loved one. Come just to come and experience a Civil War Christmas. You know you all are always welcome! Give us a call (877-774-3406) or go on line.
WAIT! Don’t go yet! We want you to enjoy our Civil War Christmas video on YouTube.