I hope all of your holidays are turning out well and that you're spending time with your family or friends, and that they're not annoying you too much. Holidays are funny like that-we're allegedly supposed to look forward to them but often they involve being around people you otherwise avoid throughout the rest of the year. Try to be around positive people and, if you can't for whatever reason, remember that this month will soon be over. Take care of yourself-this is a hard time of the year for a lot of people.
I personally celebrate Christmas (though I am not Christian) but we have dolls celebrating a wide variety of holidays in my apartment. Kirsten is celebrating St. Lucia Day soon, Rebecca is celebrating Hanukkah, and Kaya is enjoying the winter season. My holiday traditions include dressing my dolls in their holiday gear and so today my post is going to focus on Elizabeth Cole's Christmas gear (I'm trying to cover more dolls instead of my usual Josefina, Rebecca, Kirsten, and Caroline).
Elizabeth Cole is a lovely doll-I know there are a lot of complaints (for good reason!) that they changed her to a blue eyed blonde. I would have loved a dark haired Elizabeth but I still think my Elizabeth is beautiful. We share a name so of course I adore her. :)
Some background on the subject is in order. I received much of this information from the Colonial Williamsburg website. I strongly urge everyone reading this to visit the website if not the actual place-I adore Colonial Williamsburg and I think it would be a fun place to bring Felicity and Elizabeth. Colonial Williamsburg was actually the inspiration for the entire historical line and of course the Felicity doll.
Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg:
I specified colonial Williamsburg because not all Christians in the Americas celebrated Christmas. The Puritans outlawed observing Christmas (which just shows how a persecuted group can so quickly turn right around and persecute others without ever seeing the hypocrisy of that) in New England. As late as the 1870s, you could get fired for missing work on the 25th of December (better not get sick!) and schools were open. They saw Christmas as a pagan festival (which there is some truth to it, many of the common traditions have direct roots in the pagan faiths that Christianity tried to stomp out in Europe) and so they tried to prevent people from observing it. Festive celebrations went against a purely "Puritan" form of Christianity.
However in Virginia, Christmas would have been a cheerful time of the year-a time of feasts and dancing, with presents given to children and servants. Most people in Virginia were part of the Anglican Church so they observed Advent (fasting and repenting) and then celebrated on Christmas Day. The service and the meal were seen as the important parts of the holiday-more emphasis was placed on the social events than on the gift giving.
The Christmas festivities lasted well into January (hence the 12 days of Christmas) which is why the ball Felicity and Elizabeth attend takes place after Christmas Day. The focus back then was on the days following Christmas Day (whereas we focus on Thanksgiving to the end of Christmas Day). Many people gave gifts on New Year's Day instead of on Christmas. It seems that parents and employers gave presents to children and servants; children and servants did not give presents. The presents were small.
As to the customs, those are harder to determine. I don't want to say definitively that Felicity and Elizabeth wouldn't have had Christmas tress, but I don't think they would have. Christmas trees became extremely popular in England and in the United States after Victoria and Albert (who remember, was German) popularized the German tradition in 1848. Again, I don't want to definitively say that, but I am pretty sure. However it is likely that Williamsburg residents brought in evergreens and holly to make the room seem festive.
The meal would have been great because animals are slaughtered in December, meaning there would have likely been fresh meat on the table. Obviously, however, fruits and vegetables would have been scarce in the middle of the winter,
Christmas carols might have been sung. "Joy to the World" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" were around-at least the words were. These songs would probably not be recognizable to the modern ear because the tunes have likely changed. We can't be sure if there were any Christmas carols sung in 1774 that would be recognizable today.
Santa Claus as we imagine him today appeared in the 1800s, so Felicity and Elizabeth would not have imagined him as we would have if at all.
Okay, now on to the actual outfit.
Elizabeth gets a green and gold dress for the holidays. Green is my absolute favorite color in the world, especially for clothes that I wear. I have red hair and very pale skin and so green looks fabulous on me. Red...not so much. And yet every year people tend to want red for their Christmas stuff! Red is cool, but I think it's overused.
The dress is light green satin-remember that the Coles are wealthier than Felicity's family, so she wears expensive fabrics-with a floral print. The light green is so shiny that it can almost pass as a cool silver in some lights The dress is trimmed with a darker green piping.
The neckline is white and trimmed with dark green piping and ribbon.
The sleeves reach the elbow, are trimmed with two rows of the dark green piping, and have fine lace cuffs. You can get a better look at the small green, red, yellow, and blue floral pattern.
The petticoat is gold and trimmed with the same light green satin as the rest of the garment. If the dress was historically accurate, the petticoat would be a separate garment like it is on Felicity's Christmas dress. However that doesn't annoy me nearly as much as the fact that the trim on the petticoat doesn't go all the way over. They got lazy and saved a few pennies by ending the trim once the flap of the main body of the garment covered the petticoat. Can you tell when the dress is on? No. But it is still annoying, especially when you consider what these clothes retail for.
The back of the dress is pretty much the same. It closes up with Velcro on the back.
What is this nonsense? These aren't shoes. These are socks. They have no shape to them, they're just floppy little piece of fabric that get on with elastic. They have no sole so they aren't going to protect Elizabeth's feat. I like the color (gold and green are a really nice combination IMO) but I hate these shoes.
The necklace is the same gold color as the petticoat and shoes. It's a choker type necklace. I like it but I also think it is very hard to get on especially if you have issues with motor skills like I do (I have a hard time cutting food, opening things, etc., and my hands stiffen-everyone in my family eventually develops arthritis so I think I'm just experiencing the beginning stages of that).
The hair ribbon is a dark green to match the piping, which I like. However, despite the fact that Elizabeth wore it with ease last year, I could not for the life of me get it onto her head this year.
Now for some pictures!
You can see that my Elizabeth is losing one of her pin curls! I'm sure there's a YouTube tutorial about restoring them though.
I love how the colors look on her. She really is a very pretty doll.
I took this shot (she's wearing her meet hair ribbon) so that everyone could see that her hair is a much warmer blonde that either Caroline or Julie. It has a slight wave on the ends to it.
There she is, with a Christmas tree she wouldn't have recognized. You can see how stupid the shoes look even on her feet.
I think overall the outfit leaves me with a mixed taste in my mouth. Despite the lack of historical accuracy and the lack of detail in terms of the ruffle on the petticoat, I think the dress works. It's when the accessories come into play that the set loses me. The necklace and ribbon are pretty but hard for my stiffening fingers to get on (which means that a child of 8 would also likely have a hard time IMO). The shoes are shapeless socks. You'll see that, other than the shoes, Elizabeth doesn't wear either of the accessories that came with the dress. That was a conscious choice on my part.
I paid eBay prices for this set and I would again, but I would have paid less for an incomplete set of just the shoes and dress.
In Other News:
Pictures of Lea have been leaked-I have mixed feelings but I'm going to hold off on discussing them until January.
Rumors are swirling that the next retired doll will be Addy, after the release of the new African American historical. On the one hand, it sort of makes sense since Addy has been around the longest. On the other hand, why all the tokenism? Personally, I have most of what I want from Addy's current collection so I would have been paying eBay prices regardless. Still, I suggest that you focus on getting any remaining pieces from the current Addy collection that you want and haven't yet purchased.
Hopefully I'll get in another holiday outfit review before December is over and then I can finally do my future predictions for Addy.