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Relive the tradition with Victorian Yuletide at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
This year’s exhibition commemorates the tradition of Christmas trees, an iconic seasonal symbol that originated in Germany.

UTICA, NY.- A holiday season tradition continues with the annual “Victorian Yuletide” exhibition at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute November 27 through January 3.

This year’s exhibition commemorates the tradition of Christmas trees, an iconic seasonal symbol that originated in Germany. Legend tells that German religious reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) was walking home one winter’s night and was awestruck by the twinkling stars he saw through the branches of evergreen trees. To recapture the scene for his family, Luther took a tree into his home and adorned its branches with lighted candles. The popularity of the Christmas tree ensured that Germans immigrating to the United States brought the tradition with them. The practice grew even more popular when, in 1846, “The Illustrated London News” portrayed Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901) and her German-born husband, Albert, Prince Consort (1819-61), with their children around a tabletop tree; a similar image was published in America a few years later. In both Britain and the United States, it was fashionable to copy the royals.

During “Victorian Yuletide,” Fountain Elms is resplendent with festive décor. The library boasts a royally inspired tabletop tree; the dining room features the unusual feather tree, an early kind of imitation evergreen; the bedroom has a wooden, tiered Bethlehem tree, the shelves of which display small gifts; and in the parlor, one will find a tall tree—much like Americans use today—decorated with homemade ornaments. And what would be a celebration without all the other holiday touches: a table will display the handiwork of mother and children who are busy making ornaments and gifts; and the dining room centerpiece recreates a snowy Currier & Ives scene.

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