Ana’s Advent Calendar 2014, Day 3: 2nd Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange


Today’s announcements: I have received some serious news about a friend’s health and took time yesterday to process it. Please don’t worry. I am fine, and Advent Calendar will proceed as normal. But I was not able to respond to comments the way I wished, and I apologize for that. This season can be a joyous one, but it can also be a difficult reminder of loss and times of heartache. In that spirit, we will have the third annual Blue Christmas post on Friday to honor those for whom this holiday is less than joyous. It’s a sacred tradition of Ana’s Advent Calendar, and for me it is the heart of the entire event. I created Advent Calendar specifically for those who feel alienated, sad, weary, or unhappy during a month in which the world seems to celebrate. There is a place for us, too. If you feel quiet, if you feel unsure about socializing or drinking eggnog, have no fear. Here, you are welcome just as you are. (Unless you are a troll. Trolls should go back to living under the bridge. :P)

Also, you may have noticed comments from the inimitable Kathryn Blake, best known as Headmistress Blake of disciplinary fame. She has returned for a second year as helper elf, and she is joined by the lovely Anna Jones of Witty Bard Press. They are helping me behind the scenes. If they ask you questions or give you a gentle reminder, please obey them as you would me. Wait. Without the merciless teasing. 😀 Never mind, tease away.

I will be away tomorrow through Saturday (or Sunday, if weather decides not to cooperate), but you will be in the capable hands of Kathryn, Anna, and an amazing series of guest posters. I will check in as I am able, and I will return to you for sure on Monday. Sunday, I hope. 🙂

Last year’s Holiday Recipes post generated an amazing wealth of tasty treat ideas. Michelle B collected all of the recipes into a surprise party favor. Michelle B has offered to do the same this year, so please make sure your recipes have clear measurements, all necessary steps, and are easy to understand. You can use either imperial (cup, teaspoon) or metric measurements, but please be consistent.

The following is a recipe I made with my mom every Thanksgiving. For some reason, ginger cookies were cut into turkey shapes for Thanksgiving, while Christmas meant white sugar rolled-out cookies. I always preferred the more flavorful ginger cookies, but to this day I think of ginger cookies as Thanksgiving cookies. It feels naughty to make them for Christmas, and we all know I’m about the naughty!

Rolled-out cookies are special to me because my mother (who baked/cooked because she was a woman and expected to do so, not because she enjoyed it) only made them twice a year. She hated her kitchen in a mess, and she particularly hated Ana creating mess in her perpetual excitement. (No one can picture me excited about a project, right?) I’ll never make cookies as perfectly or neatly as my mom, but I like to think that imperfections are a sign of love.

Here is this year’s holiday recipe for Advent Calendar. If you go to last year’s PDF, you’ll find a recipe for another of my favorites–vanilla caramels. Yum.

UPDATE: If you add an image to your recipe, Michelle B will include it in the cookbook. You can post the photo directly (I think) or a link to it.

Rolled Ginger Cookies


1 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 Tablespoons vinegar

5 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ginger (powdered)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, molasses, and vinegar. Beat well (with a wooden spoon! Oh, joy!). Sift dry ingredients together and stir into the wet mixture. Chill for three hours.

Roll out on floured surface and sprinkle with sugar. Cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 minutes (depending on thickness) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool slightly and move to cooling racks.





Today, I’d like you to do three things:

  1. Share your favorite holiday recipe. This is not a contest to show cooking expertise. If your favorite holiday recipe is to go to the grocery store and buy a pint of eggnog, tell us! If you like to slice hot dogs lengthwise and doctor them up with barbecue sauce, go for it. If you don’t cook, what food do you like to enjoy for the holidays?
  2. Reply to at least two other recipes in the comment thread. Have you tried it before? Is it new to you? Would you like to try it?
  3. If you have tried cooking or baking before, please share a story about your worst disaster. Mine? Too many to count. Most recently, I wanted to make Michelle B’s shortbread cookies from last year’s cookbook. I mixed everything together and set the dough in the fridge to chill. Then I got slammed with work, so I didn’t get a chance to check the dough…for two days. I had to throw the dry, crumbly mess away. Oops! Or there’s the time I wanted to make perfect lemon bars for my friend’s funeral and went through three batches, had to buy a new non-warped pan, and learned why RealLemon is not real at all. It took three tries, but I did finally get it right. 🙂

UPDATE: If you add an image to your recipe, Michelle B will include it in the cookbook. You can post the photo directly (I think) or a link to it.

Sci Spanks 2014 Authors and Ambassadors



These blogs are offering free Sci Spanks stories, prizes, and more! Comments on these blogs earn you entries in the grand prize drawings as well as individual contests. You will earn one prize entry per comment per blog, and commenting on all seventeen blogs will earn you five bonus prize entries.

Be sure to sign up for our exclusive chat with Sci Spanks authors! Message Ana or Anne for an invitation.





These blogs sponsor Sci Spanks. Many have donated prizes, some are also authors, and all are a fabulous part of this event. Be sure to check out their sites!

Amanda L Pederick

Ameliah Faith

Anna Jones

Annie Slasher

Asnee Llygedyn

Cat Hopkins

Dame Margo

Dana Danis

Hermione Martingale

Joelle Casteel

Jolynn Raymond

Kristin Elyon

Leigh Smith

Megan Michaels

Minelle Labraun

Missy Jones

Paloma Beck

Regan Nicole

Ronnie Soul

Skeeter Lee

New cover and today’s prizes!

Daughter of Discipline

Pardon me for hijacking my own prize announcement post, but I have finally received the cover for Daughter of Discipline! Blushing Books will have it available for purchase just as soon as technology can make it possible. 🙂 If you find the book buy link available, please let us know! There may be a special thank you for doing so… 😉

UPDATE: Buy link here!

For those of you who have read The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus, you’ll remember headstrong, spoiled daughter Claire and her loving but feisty mother, Minelle. (AKA the knickerless Minelle AKA Ms. “Granny Panties”) Daughter of Discipline picks up a few months later, with Claire preparing for her college graduation and a birthday trip to Las Vegas. Mother Minelle frets about her daughter’s safety, but she also has problems of her own. Matthew keeps expecting her to submit, as in do what he asks! Combined with Minelle’s obsession about her weight and tendency to do too much for others, it takes more than one (badly accepted) spanking for Matthew to restore order in the Labraun household.

I do hope you’ll take a look at one or both books as you prepare for your holiday season. After all, what’s December without a good, hard wooden-spoon spanking from our beloved and feared Mrs. Claus?


And now for more exciting news…prize announcements! Let’s not tell Mrs. Claus about today, shall we? Or we can blame Kate. It’s always a good idea to blame Kate.

Laurel Lasky wins Becoming Clissine from Anastasia Vitsky

Marybeth Renn wins South Sea Siren by Heather Geoffries

PT Wyant wins a holiday card donated by Rogue (only six holiday cards left!)

Pieclown wins Dungeon Time by Kate Richards. Kate chose Pieclown’s entry yesterday for its creativity in completing “Sex Toy Story.”

Congratulations, everyone! Please contact your prize donor (with the except of PT, who will contact me) to make arrangements for receiving your prize.

Don’t forget to send a thank you note! Authors and donors help make Advent Calendar special, and gracious winners will encourage repeat donations next year.

One note: Please don’t forget to let me (or helper elf Kathryn Blake) know when you receive your prize! Otherwise, I wonder whether you have actually gotten it. Thank you notes are always appreciated, too. 🙂

Introduction posts from today’s winners:

Laurel Lasky

1. Yes
2. No. This is my first time.
3. Where are the daily questions? I can’t find them.
4. I would love to win an amazon but would be happy to win any spanko book.
5. I am a new spanko, and as I’m 70 I’m past it so I get a vicarious thrill as long as my batteries this sounds like great fun.

Marybeth Renn

1. Yes, I have read and understood all the rules pages.
2. I did not participate in Ana’s Advent Calendar last year.
3. I heard about this through the Blushing books website.
4. I hope to be here every day. But, sometimes life breaks through! :-)
5. I am hoping for gift certificates. Like Katy Beth, I have hundreds of spanking and BDSM books.
6. This sounded like fun. And I have never posted on a blog before. So, hopefully I do OK.
7. I am Marybeth. I have been married for 26 years and have 3 kids, 20,17 and 14. I am a stay at home mom and I am going back to college part time. I don’t really want to be a teacher anymore because of all those “pesky regulations”! I am in a vanilla relationship as my husband is not interested in the lifestyle. So, I lurk and read. lol
8.Hi Merna. I hope that you get your wish with your husband. I’m not sure I would like the reality of a DD relationship. I am pretty strong willed and don’t know if I could be submissive.

BTW, Ana, thank you for setting this up and getting all the prizes. Also, I don’t recognize the term ttwd. What does it stand for?

PT Wyant

1. Yes, I read them and think I understand them. (But how do you sign up again?)
2. Nope. This is my first year.
3. I heard about it from someone who thought I might be uncomfortable reading spanking scenes.
4. Computer and internet willing I’m planning to be here every day.
5. What I’d like to win? Becoming Clissine. (Kissing up is allowed, correct?) Well, actually, as long as I don’t win my own book I’ll be happy. LOL And if I don’t win anything I’ll be happy, too, as long as I get to pick on the hostess.
6. My computer and internet and FaceBook bring me here. And I’m playing because it looks like fun.
7. My name is Paula (aka P.T.) Wyant and I’ve been here before via Sunday Snippets. I’m a writer — mostly fantasy with occasional forays into science fiction. I write, I blog, I do counted cross stitch, have a dollhouse remodeling project that is on hold due to lack of space, and I’m really good at avoiding housework.
8. Hi, Robin! You sound like me — too little time. (You can’t keep up with the stuff you record on your DVR and I can’t keep up with the stuff I download to my Kindle.) Ana’s a great writer — enjoy her blog!


1. Yes, I have read the 4 pages
2. No, I did not participate last year. I just found your blog today.
3. I saw it on another blog called Naughty Little Writer.
4. I plan to be here every day, Lord willing and the computer does not crash.
5. To be honest, I would like the Kindle, it would be first foray into “Smart” Tech. I have a dumb cel phone and a tower for a computer. I did see a purple paddle, then there is the spoon set, and the pantie( if I win them I hope they fit.)
6.It looks fun and can give me another way to celebrate Christmas.
7.I am new here, first day. I 46 male and live in Nebraska – GO BIG RED. I am divorced and daddy to a 8 year old. I am a professional clown but I keep my “pieclown” separate. I started following another blog on DD and am slowly expanding my views. As for experience, my x-wife was mostly vanilla. I have posted on some websites. I consider myself a switch. My main kinks are pies in the face, dunk tanks, spankings, and bras. I like seeing, doing or getting.
8.Hello George K. So are you a Sooner or Cowboy fan or do you not fallow college football.
With all the prizes, you just might get that new book. Good luck to you and all.

pie pie 4 now

TWO lucky recipients!


Ana’s Advent Calendar has received such a steady flow of prizes, even after it began last week, that I decided to do a double surprise check today!

  • One random drawing of all registrants who have played at least one day, to win one book drawn randomly from the prize pool.
  • Another random drawing of all registrants who have played at least one day, to win one of the brand-new, hot-off-the-presses, gorgeous holiday cards donated by our dear Rogue who has unfortunately had to leave blogland. 😦 We miss her very much, the spunky lady who cares fiercely and who protects her own.

And now, for the drum roll, please!

None other than our very own, revered and (slightly) feared Headmistress Kathryn Blake who wins Bound for Disappointment by the ever witty, ever hilarious Sheri Savill! If you want a parody of the foibles of finding a BDSM relationship, Sheri is the author for you. Kathryn’s “Headmistress Blake” persona originated with her ever-popular Saturday Spankings weekly bloghop, and each of the participants secretly longs for and fears attention from our most renowned of headmistresses.

Kathryn needs no introduction after her wonderful posts on the history of Christmas trees (find the links here), but here is her intro post after signing up for Ana’s Advent Calendar 2012! She’s not even sure how she managed that feat. 🙂

Wow! Eight questions at once. Okay, here’s my attempt at answering. BTW, I am on the correct page this time, right?

1. Yes, I have read and understood all 4 information pages
2. Sadly, no, I wasn’t aware of Ana’s advent calendar last year (I’m a newbie), so I didn’t participate.
3. I heard about the advent calendar this year through Facebook.
4. I plan to participate every day, and yes I aim for perfect attendance, but not for the prizes..
5. I’m here for the fun!
6. I love Christmas, and I want to share the spirit of the holiday with others.
7. I’m Kathryn, and I’ve been visiting Governing Ana since February this year when I started Saturday Spankings. I write paranormal and spanking romances and plan to have at least two books out next year.
8. Hello George! I’m glad you came out of the woodwork to join us. Like Ana, I agree it’s refreshing to hear from individuals who practice alternate dynamics from the standard M/F. I’m pleased for you that your wife was so understanding of your desires and willing to meet them. Undoubtedly that’s why you’ve been married for 37 years. My hubby and I have been married nearly that long, but not quite, and I attribute the success of our marriage to understanding, cooperation and a similarly wicked sense of humor. He can always make me laugh.

Second, the winner of the very first holiday card (a lovely, glossy, two-sided card printed with the Advent Calendar logo) is none other than the incorrigible corner-dweller, the irrepressible “I love to get up a woman’s crack” Michael Thorn! Michael, come out of the corner for just a second, will you?

1. Yes, I have read and understand all the rules and information and stand ready to be quizzed on said rules and information. And standing I may be doing a lot if I fail the quiz.
2. No, unfortunately I did not participate in last year’s Ana Advent Calendar. The shame is all mine.
3. I heard about Ana’s Advent Calendar by visiting Ana’s Governing Ana blog which I am doing more and more, much to my delight.
4. I plan on perfect attendance and hope to do so without the need of any EXTRA motivation.
5. I am not looking to win any prizes. The prize for me is the participation, and meeting old friends and making new ones. Let’s all have a fun experience.
6. I think I answered this in my previous question but will repeat; I want a fun experience meeting old friends and making new ones. Also, Ana is a fantastic, talented and creative person whose blog is so warm and inviting I want to be here.
7. My name is Michael Thorn. I am a Top to many and a Dom to my beautiful wife, Season Blossom. We publish a blog, Blossom and Thorn, where we talk about many things but mostly spanking subjects. I have visited Governing Ana many times before but don’t always comment as often as I should. I will try to improve on that in the future.
8. Hi, SH (Sandy). Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your second grandchild. You must be one proud mother and grandmother. I would like to read some of your book reviews.

It sort of feels like crowning the Homecoming King and Queen, doesn’t it? Mr. Blossom and Thorn, leader of the “eclectic spanking blog,” and Headmistress Blake. Ah, justice reigns.  Just to see how eclectic (and how willing Michael is to poke fun at himself) it is, look for a photo representing Mr. Naughty in the corner. Ah, naughty boys. What’s a harried Mrs. Claus to do but swat ’em all soundly and send them to bed? 😀

Don’t forget to visit today’s post and leave a recipe of your favorite holiday treat!

Sue Lyndon’s Surprise Day Winners!

Sue Lyndon, our favorite bad girl, tattletale to Mrs. Claus, and author of VERY naughty fiction, gave us a wonderful post yesterday on how to deceive persuade Santa that we belong on the nice list.

Chickie, hiding out in the closet with the turkey puts you on the naughty list. 🙂

Out of the 70 commenters yesterday (wow!) Sue randomly chose five lucky ducks to receive her Amish ageplay book, Hanna’s Awakening.

If you already own this book, Sue will offer you another book of your choice. Please message her within four days by using the email address listed on the contact info sheet. The five winners are:

Erzabet Bishop

Joelle Casteel




Congratulations! You have 5 hours and 12 minutes left to comment on today’s post by Kathryn Blake to earn an entry for both the grand prize drawing and her own contest. One lucky random winner will get to choose a book of your choice from her list. 🙂

The Christmas Tree Story, Part 3 (Advent Calendar Day 3)

The wonderful Kathryn Blake of “Headmistress Blake” fame (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) joins us again today for Part 3 in her Christmas Tree Story. Many of you know Kathryn as the fearless leader of Saturday Spankings, a wonderful opportunity to sample spanking authors’ work.

This is Kathryn’s introductory comment from Day 1:

1. Yes, I have read and understood all 4 information pages
2. Sadly, no, I wasn’t aware of Ana’s advent calendar last year (I’m a newbie), so I didn’t participate.
3. I heard about the advent calendar this year through Facebook.
4. I plan to participate every day, and yes I aim for perfect attendance, but not for the prizes..
5. I’m here for the fun!
6. I love Christmas, and I want to share the spirit of the holiday with others.
7. I’m Kathryn, and I’ve been visiting Governing Ana since February this year when I started Saturday Spankings. I write paranormal and spanking romances and plan to have at least two books out next year.
8. Hello George! I’m glad you came out of the woodwork to join us. Like Ana, I agree it’s refreshing to hear from individuals who practice alternate dynamics from the standard M/F. I’m pleased for you that your wife was so understanding of your desires and willing to meet them. Undoubtedly that’s why you’ve been married for 37 years. My hubby and I have been married nearly that long, but not quite, and I attribute the success of our marriage to understanding, cooperation and a similarly wicked sense of humor. He can always make me laugh.

She brings us an amazing history of Christmas trees, and I learned many new things. How’s that for kinky blog reading? 😀 I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Kathryn is offering one lucky random commenter a special prize: one of her five spanking books!

  • Mortal Illusions (Vampire Romance)
  • Deadly Enchantment (Shifter Romance)
  • Arrested by Love (Spanking Romance)
  • A Dom’s Dilemma (BDSM Romance)
  • Acting Lessons (Spanking/DD Romance)

For your comment today, you can pick one or more of the following questions:

  1. What new information about Christmas trees did you learn from Kathryn’s post? (I was shocked that fake trees and toilet brushes have a common geneaology!)
  2. When did or will you put up your Christmas tree this year, if you have one? (Christmas tree? Today. Christmas tree decked out as a Halloween tree? The week before Halloween. Don’t judge.)
  3. What is your favorite kind of Christmas tree? (Big, full, and with lots of pretty branches. So I’m not good at tree names.)

If you don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t have Christmas trees, that’s okay! You can choose the #1 question. 🙂

Christmas Tree Story, Part 1

Christmas Tree Story, Part 2

Christmas Tree Story, Part 4


The History of the Christmas Tree (or how we decided to bring the outdoors inside)


The Romans and Egyptians

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.”

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes to symbolize life’s triumph over death.  Daylight was lengthening, so Ra was recovering from the illness that had held him back during the longer winter nights.

Winter Solstice Celebration

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To celebrate, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one’s journey through life.

The Celts


In Northern Europe, the wood priests of the ancient Celts, called Druids, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs during mysterious winter solstice rituals as a symbol of everlasting life. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits. Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring.

Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

The roots come from Germany

16th Century Church Tree-LRG

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. Reportedly, Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, was the first to add lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Pyramid Christmas Tree

Customs of erecting decorated trees in wintertime can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era guilds in Northern Germany and Livonia. A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with “apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers” was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members’ children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day.

One of the best records we have of this custom is from a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601. He records a tree decorated with “wafers and golden sugar-twists (Barleysugar) and paper flowers of all colours”. The early trees were biblically symbolic of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden. The many food items were symbols of Plenty, the flowers, originally only red (for Knowledge) and White (for Innocence).

16th Century Christmas Tree-crop

The Dark Years – When Christmas Trees were banned


In America, during most of the 17th Century, Christmas customs were suppressed in the New England American Colonies by the Puritans. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth Colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders.

Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas, calling it ‘Foolstide’ and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it for several reasons. First, no holy days except the Sabbath were sanctioned in Scripture. Second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration, and third, December 25 was an early Christian hijacking of the Roman festival Saturnalia, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to a pagan custom. The Puritans attitude was most clearly expressed in their calendar with approximately 300 working days compared to the 240 typical of cultures from Ancient Rome to modern America. Days of rest were restricted to the Sabbath, Election Day, Harvard commencement day, and periodic days of thanksgiving and humiliation. This attitude prevailed in New England for almost two centuries.

A Puritan Christmas

In England, when the Puritans came to power following the execution of King Charles I, Parliament enacted a law in 1647 abolishing the observance of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. Not to be outdone, the Puritans of New England then passed a series of laws making any observance of Christmas illegal. A Massachusetts law of 1659 punished offenders with a five shilling fine (a hefty penance in those days).

Though the English repealed their law late in the 17th century, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration continued, despite the observance being made legal again in 1680. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church.

No Christmas Tree_400x400

New England officials also frowned upon gift giving and reveling. Evergreen decoration, associated with pagan custom, was expressly forbidden in Puritan meeting houses and discouraged in the New England home. Merrymakers were prosecuted for disturbing the peace. The Puritan view was tenacious. As late as 1870, classes were scheduled in Boston public schools on Christmas Day and the punishments doled out to children who chose to stay home beneath their Christmas tree, included possible expulsion. Non-Puritans in New England deplored the loss of the holiday that was being enjoyed by the laboring classes in England.

A Gradual Restoration

After the Protestant Reformation occurred in Germany, trees similar to those displayed in guildhalls were seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs or manger scenes. This transition from the guildhall to the bourgeois family homes in the Protestant parts of Germany ultimately gave rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.


The United States was most likely introduced to the Christmas tree tradition by Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.  But the custom didn’t become truly popular with the masses until the mid 19th century. In the early 19th century, the custom of decorating trees for Christmas was observed by the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia.

The Fir Tree-HCA

In Austria – Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d’Orléans. And in Denmark, a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. Reportedly, the aging countess also told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to Hans Christian Andersen in 1865, after he published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.

Victorian Angel Ornament Banner

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. Europeans, who prefer small and compact, used table-top trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

Victorian Christmas Tree-600

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. At this point, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Addis Brush Christmas Trees2

In America, the Addis Brush Company created the first brush trees, using the same machinery that made their toilet brushes! Stronger than the feather tree, they could take heavier decorations. After 1918, because of licensing and export problems, Germany was not able to export its decorations easily, so the market was quickly taken up by Japan and America.

In the 1930s, there was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas cards all sported Crinoline ladies with muffs and bonnets popular in the 1840’s. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top.

Tabletop German Goosefeather Tree

But wartime England put a crimp in the holiday. Britain forbade its citizens to cut down trees for decoration, and with so many bombing raids, many people preferred to keep their most precious heirloom Christmas tree decorations carefully stored away in metal boxes.  Instead, they decorated a small tabletop Goosefeather tree with homemade decorations, which could be taken down into the shelters for a little Christmas cheer, when the air-raid sirens sounded.

Large trees were still erected, however, in public places to help its citizens’ morale.

Postwar Britain saw a revival of the earlier customs. People needed the security of Christmas to help set them back on their feet. Trees were as large as people could afford. Though many poorer families still used the tabletop Goosefeather trees, America’s Addis Brush Trees were also imported into Britain, and these became immensely popular for a time. But real trees remained the favorite.

Silver Pine Tree with lights

The mid-1960s saw another change. A new world was on the horizon, and modernist ideas were everywhere. Silver aluminum trees were imported from America. The ‘Silver Pine’ tree, patented in the 1950’s, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with colored gelatin ‘windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree.

Tree with garland and balls

With fewer people buying them, decorations became sparse. Glass balls and lametta (tinsel garlands) created an ‘elegant’ modern tree. Of course, many families carried on with tradition and continued to place their own well-loved decorations on their trees!

Pressed foil Dresden Ornaments

America made a return to Victorian nostalgia in the 1970’s, and it was a good decade later that Britain followed the fashion. Manufacturers quickly realized the potential and created more and more fantastic decorations. Some American companies specialized in antique replicas, actually finding the original makers in Europe to recreate wonderful glass ornaments, real silver tinsels and pressed foil ‘Dresdens’.

Today, with the ability to easily purchase items off the Internet from anywhere in the world, the Christmas Tree along with its lights and ornaments vary according to its owner’s tastes and values. So, you can even have visions of sugarplums dancing in your living room today, if you wish. The choices are as endless as your imagination.  Merry Christmas.


The Christmas Tree Story


Today Kathryn Blake and I present you with an early Advent Calendar treat!

Below is the first of a four-part series titled “The Christmas Tree Story.” Part two is on her blog here.

Parts three and four will be co-hosted on our blogs on December 3rd for the Advent Calendar.

I apologize that some of these photos are a bit small, but you can enlarge a little by clicking on them. WordPress is a bit temperamental about photos lately. 🙂

Spruce Pine or Fir Trees

A Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen conifer, usually a spruce, pine or fir, since those trees have been traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. Today, “realistic” looking artificial trees, have grown in popularity as well.  And to my eye, they are a great improvement over the pipe-cleaner aluminum trees of the 60s.

Artifical Tree Banner

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Real-looking Artifical Tree Banner

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient people hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.


In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year (the Winter Solstice) falls on December 21 or December 22. Many ancient people believed the sun was a god and winter came every year because the god had grown sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow when the sun god was returned to his full glory and summer returned.

popcorn garland

Originally, the holiday tree was decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates, and later strings of edible popcorn were added.  In the 18th century, candles illuminated the tree, which with electrification evolved into strings of gaily-colored Christmas lights. Today, wide varieties of traditional ornaments exist, such as garland, tinsel, and even candy canes (plastic or real). An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th century, when “devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.” The custom acquired popularity outside of Germany during the second half of the 19th century. The Christmas tree has also been referred to as a “Yule-tree”, especially in connection with its folkloristic origins.

Family decorations typically include a mix of family traditions and personal tastes; even a small unattractive ornament, if passed down from a parent or grandparent, may come to represent considerable emotional value, and be given a place of pride on the tree. Conversely, trees decorated by professional designers for department stores and other institutions usually have a “theme”; a set of predominant colors, multiple instances of each type of ornament, and larger decorations that may be more complicated to set up correctly.

Candle-lit tree

Because candles were used to illuminate trees until strings of electric bulbs became available, a mat (UK) or skirt (US) was often placed below the tree to protect the floor by catching the dripping candle wax, and collecting any fallen needles. Even with today’s dripless candles, electric lights and artificial trees, a skirt is often added as a decorative feature that also serves to hide the tree stand, which though unsightly is an important safety feature for natural trees that require a steady intake of water to keep their needles fresh. So, what began as ordinary cloth to catch wax droplets has become much more ornate, with some displaying intricate embroidery or appliqués, while others are fitted with their own lights to give the illusion of sparkling snow laying beneath the tree.

Christmas Tree with Model Train

Some families have a nativity scene, model train, or Christmas village placed on the mat or skirt beneath the tree.  As Christmas presents arrive, they are generally placed on the tree skirt as well.  These presents are in addition to the gifts Santa brings, of course.


For those of you who may be curious, the difference between a mat and skirt is simply that a mat is placed under the Christmas tree stand, while a skirt is placed over it.  The tree skirt has a hole in the middle for the tree’s trunk and a slot cut to the outside edge so that it can be placed around the tree (and beneath its branches) easily. When the tree being used is fresh, rather than manufactured, a plain mat of fabric or plastic is often placed under the stand and skirt to protect the floor (if wood) from scratches  and water spillages.

Feed the Woodland creatures banner

In addition to their indoor decorations, many people decorate their outdoor trees with food that birds and other wildlife might enjoy, such as garlands made from unsalted popcorn or cranberries, fruit halves, and seed-covered suet cakes.  Not to mention the creative light displays some households put up to compete with their neighbors.

outside light displays

But no matter what your reason is for decorating, ’tis the season to be jolly, and once your decorated Christmas tree is fully dressed in its lights and ornaments, it’s difficult not to sit back and admire your handiwork with a smile for a job well done.


Spankee Doodle participation results

Are you excited for the Spankee Doodle grand prize announcements tomorrow? (Go see the new VIP results here.) As the team and I have been hard at work sorting out all of the prize entries, I was delighted to see how much participation has grown during these three events (Spankee Doodle, Love Spanks, and Spank or Treat). Kathryn Blake asked for the data to create a graph, and she sent me this visual representation:

“Comments” refers to the number of comments from unique commenters, not including author replies to comments. If a comment is exactly or nearly the same one more than one blog, it also doesn’t count.
An especially big thank you to all of our ambassadors who worked hard to promote the event. For all of our readers, visitors, and fellow authors–we love you! Thank you for making these events so great.
Look for the prize announcement post tomorrow at 8 AM EDT (UTC-4)!