What thoughts come to your mind when you think of holiday decorating ideas for Christmas? Decorating fireplace mantels is a favorite topic for those with a fireplace. However, Christmas fireplace decorations have only become commonplace in more recent history. Here is a very abridged history of the fireplace that I found on the internet.
In centuries past fires were used for cooking, warmth from the elements and, often times protection from animals that preyed on the defenseless. From an outdoor fire pit with open ventilation to caves and huts that I am sure posed a challenge.
Benjamin Franklin was inspired to harness heat with the freestanding firebox later known as the Franklin stove. David Rittenhouse added an L-shaped stove pipe in the late 1700s for venting smoke through the chimney. Count Rumford designed a more narrow and tall venting system that our fireplaces are patterned after today.
We can thank the Victorian era for adding a touch of class to this heating and cooking device. Since that time there have been many changes in style and technology to suit our needs. From fire pits to fireplaces, gas fireplaces are prevalent in many areas because of “no burn” days set by local regulations.
In Eastern culture, producing smoke is akin to negative chi or energy. The ancient art of feng shui dictated that the fireplace be located in a section of the home susceptible to winter winds and that it also be situated on an exterior wall.
Once at the focal point of family life, the fireplace has become a secondary heat source. This transition opened the door for many mantle decorating ideas for Christmas. Decorating fireplaces now involves everything from candles and stockings to sophisticated lighting displays and Christmas garland swags.
This heat source has a depth of meaning in every culture and, common to all, it warms our hearts and souls however we choose to celebrate the holidays.