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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Do You Have Your Dance Card?

Photo of Victorian Dance card and invite

The library staff were honored to be asked to decorate a room at the C.H. Moore Homestead for the Christmas holiday tours again this year! Staff have been working hard the last couple of weeks coming up with and creating different decorations that tie into the Christmas Ball theme! Check out what we have been up to!


Photo of pomander oranges with clove designs

Staged for a festive Victorian Christmas in the 1890's, the staff have worked hard to adhere to the customs of that time period.

First up, lots of fruit decorations. While the oranges are fake, the cloves are real! Staff learned very quickly that adding clove designs might smell heavenly but that the cloves themselves are very hard on the fingers!

Photo of an orange pomander with cloves in the background

Pomander balls began as perfume satchels, or little bags, of sweet smelling herbs, spice and flowers worn on a persons body in Medieval times as a way to hide a person's natural odor. Products like deodorant and toothpaste were not a thing yet and the perfume satchels were a wonderful solution.

In Victorian times, the pomander ball took the shape that we think of today, oranges and cloves. People who could afford to, started perfuming their homes, not just their bodies. Think of pomander balls as the scented candles, essential oil diffusers, or potpourri that we use today.

Next on the list of must haves... candied fruit.

Want your house to smell even more amazing? Add some candied whole fruit to your tree and decorations. While we could not use real candied fruit, it is a very long process, we found some realistic shortcuts using fake fruit and epsom salt.

Photo of a finish Christmas Popper and scattered music sheets and ribbon supplies

While researching Victorian Christmas decorations the staff noticed a lot of Victorian decorations were created out of paper as well. What a perfect way to tie in the Christmas Ball theme! We decided to use old sheet music to create traditional Christmas poppers and cones that would have been filled with treats and displayed on the tree.

Christmas poppers were traditionally filled with nuts, candies, paper crowns, and slips of paper with handwritten words of the season. Cones on the tree were filled with nuts, candies, and small flowers.

Photo of a cone made out of sheet music and ribbon filled with wrapped candy and baby's breath surrounded by extra ribbon and baby's breath

Finally, one staff member stumbled on the ball tradition of dance cards while reading through a C.H. Moore Homestead newsletter. A conversation with Museum Director Joey Long at the museum solidified that dance cards MUST be incorporated into this years Christmas Ball theme! Staff members created dance cards and invites using historical samples from the time found in our own archives collection and reliable historical websites.

Photo of dance cards and invites made for the C.H.Moore Christmas Ball

Victorian Balls were fun... but not too fun. At a "City Ball", gentlemen must be introduced to a lady before they were allowed to dance with her. That introduction was usually done by the host/hostess of the ball. No introduction... no dancing with the beautiful lady you spied across the dance floor. Ladies, if you were introduced to a gentleman and that gentleman asked you to dance it was rude and an insult to the host if you turned the gentleman down. You were not required to be friends, you could “drop the acquaintance" after the ball, but you were required to dance. As the ladies danced with the gentleman, each dance partner was added to the dance card in the appropriate spot. The open dance cards in the music room have been filled with the names of gentlemen that would have attended a ball at the C. H. Moore Homestead.

If you get the chance, take a trip out to the C.H. Moore Homestead and enjoy all the beauty and history the mansion has to offer. It is absolutely stunning decorated for Christmas and lit by candlelight during the candlelight tours. To learn more about the C.H. Moore Homestead and find a list of all of their upcoming events jump over to their website.

Join us next week on the blog

to catch a glimpse of the December displays!

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