Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Holidays - the Christmas Tree

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The Christmas Tree represented in the engraving is that which is annually prepared by Her Majesty's command for the Royal children. Similar trees are arranged in other apartments for Her Majesty, His Royal Highness Prince Albert, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and the Royal household. The tree employed for this festive purpose is a young fir about eight feet high, and has six tiers of branches. On each tier, or branch, are arranged a dozen wax tapers. Pendent from the branches are elegant trays, baskets, bonbonnieres, and other receptacles for sweetmeats, of the most varied and expensive kind; and of all forms, colours, and degrees of beauty. Fancy cakes, gilt gingerbread and eggs filled with sweetmeats, are also suspended by variously-coloured ribbons from the branches. The tree, which stands upon a table covered with white damask, is supported at the root by piles of sweets of a larger kind, and by toys and dolls of all descriptions, suited to the youthful fancy, and to the several ages of the interesting scions of Royalty for whose gratification they are displayed. The name of each recipient is affixed to the doll, bonbon, or other present intended for it, so that no difference of opinion in the choice of dainties may arise to disturb the equanimity of the illustrious juveniles. On the summit of the tree stands the small figure of an angel, with outstretched wings, holding in each hand a wreath. Those trees are objects of much interest to all visitors at the Castle, from Christmas Eve, when they are first set up, until Twelfth Night, when they are finally removed. During this period two trees of similar magnitude and general design stand on the sideboard of the Royal Dining-room, and present a brilliant appearance when all the tapers are lighted up, among the branches. These trees are not accessible to the curiosity of the public; but Her Majesty's visitors accompany the Queen from room to room to inspect them when they are illuminated. Her Majesty's tree is furnished by His Royal Highness Prince Albert, whilst that of the Prince is furnished according to the taste of Her Majesty. The other trees are jointly provided by Her Majesty and the Prince, who plan and arrange the gifts on the table. The trees are constructed and arranged by Mr Mawditt, the Queen's confectioner.'

Illustrated London News, 1848