Christmas in Cape May is almost here and we’re so excited because it’s our favorite time of year. The Queen Victoria is always open through the holidays and happily welcoming guests. Our properties are spectacularly decorated with the most exquisite Victorian Christmas decorations and lights. In fact, our inn is one of the most photographed buildings in Cape May during the holiday season.
Our Victorian Christmas decorations always stand out. Here’s a little more about what inspires us the most.
Tree Trimming the Victorian Way
With the largest collection of Victorian frame buildings in the United States, historic Cape May seems a perfect spot to recall holidays past. According to an article in House Beautiful, the Christmas tree was a German tradition later adopted by England when price Albert married queen Victoria. But it wasn’t until 1848, when a picture of a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle appeared in the London Illustrated News, that the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree each year became popular.
The Early Victorian Tree (in the Prince Albert Hall parlor)
Like the early German Christmas trees, early Victorian trees were simply decorated with painted eggs, pretzels, nuts, buds and small fruits. These items are Pagan fertility symbols often used in the winter months to celebrate the coming of the winter solstice. The belief was that these items would protect families from death during the colder months, much like some fir trees. Often trees in the early Victorian era were placed on tables and encircled by a Putz fence accompanied by a creche with a manger scene inside.
Middle Victorian Tree (in the Prince Albert Hall Dining Room)
Christmas trees in middle Victoria remained small but were more ornately decorated. Hand-made decorations and blown glass ornaments were en trend as were candy filled paper cornucopias, decorative cups and saucers, cleverly folded doilies, dolls, small toys, crocheted snowflakes, and colorful bits of scrap cloth and ribbon saved over the years
These ornaments served not only as decorations but as gifts for family and friends. Traditionally, fully-trimmed trees were revealed by the father of the house after being prepared behind closed doors. The ornaments were then collected by the children of the house.
The Late Victorian Tree (in The Queen Victoria building parlor)
By the late Victorian era, Christmas had evolved in to quite an elaborate affair. Christmas trees were now full-sized and served as a reflection of the success of the Industrial Revolution. Christmas decorations and presents presents were store-bought, rather than home crafted. As these store-bought presents grew in size, they could no longer be hung on the tree, so it became customary to place them under the tree. It was customary to light the tree with strategically placed candles, which were lit for short periods of time, and always with a bucket of water nearby. It was a bright and flashy time, most similar to the way were celebrate Christmas today.
At the Queen Victoria, we invite all passers-through and guests to Cape May to enjoy our Victorian trees. It brings us great joy to share these traditional customs. We also invite you to learn more about Cape May’s upcoming holiday events.
West Cape May Christmas Parade
December 1 | 5pm to 9pm
The West Cape May Christmas Parade sets the stage for the areas holiday season. Now in its 53rd year, the parade begins at 5:00pm from the WCM Volunteer Firehouse and marches South on Broadway, winds East on Perry, and onto Carpenter Lane in the City of Cape May. A small army of volunteers assembles an unforgettable hometown memory each year.
MAC’s Candlelight House Tour
December 1, 8, 15 | 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Experience the high point of the holiday season in Cape May with MAC’s Candlelight House Tours. You’ll see beautiful homes, inns, and churches decorated for the holiday season. Complete with carolers, warm drinks and baked goods, this tour is sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
- Homes, inns, hotels and churches specially decorated for the holidays
- Christmas caroling and strolling musicians, trees and garland & good old-fashioned cheer
- Hospitality centers with warm beverages and home-baked goodies
For more information or to book your stay, visit our Rooms page.