Archive for the Hans Christian Andersen Category

Tannenbaum Thursday, in praise of the spindly ungainly tree

Posted in 19th cent., Christmas Trees, Hans Christian Andersen, Saturnalia on December 16, 2010 by babylonbaroque

This is to be an unabashedly fluffy post, but this is the season of fluff. Even the New York Times indulged in a vacuous piece on designers “zhoosh-ing” trees for clients. I haven’t a clue as to what zhoosh means, it sounds unwholesome, and the results shown were at best predictable.

I have as my “pile” of Internet ephemera has grown to include  more and more holiday images, been inclined to pine (pun intended) for the ungainly, unstudied trees of the late 19th -early 20th century.

This marvel, replete with patriotic little flags is so much more enchanting then the offerings of this morning’s Home section.

Perhaps we have lost the charm of just “making do” when trimming a tree, a birds nest here, a Chinese puppet above,a hobgoblin tucked there; the mish-mash approach is far more visually satisfying then the self consciously decorated trees I see here in Tinsletown.

Again, I just have always loved little flags tucked into trees, I have trimmed my own trees in this manner for years. I am still surprised at how many folks assume I am some sort of right wing nationalist zealot.

I also believe you can’t have too many homemade garlands, paper, popped corn, berries, or cones, all delight.

Perhaps the great appeal of these wonky little trees is the fantasy that they were selected and culled by the family enjoying them.

A far cry from the mono culture of today’s farms.

A disheartening image .

My own tree I am ashamed to say is an artificial “pencil’ tree ( pre-lit, I know, I know…) from Target, a far cry from my fantasy; but from the street, five stories up, it evokes the spirit I so love.

The following sweet image of rugged men around their own little “feather” tree really tickles me. I love the little paper garlands we all were forced to make in grade school.

More flags!

A Facebook friend posted this clip from 1898, it really is too wonderful not to share.

Children may love the sparkle of Christmas morn, but they aren’t alone…

Concerning Christmas Trees some options are just not Kosher…

Purple Pencil Trees &…

bling bedazzled, knee-sock wearing Santas &

Perhaps the most poignant image of Christmas is the few days after, my heart has always broken seeing forlorn holiday trees abandoned to the trash heap. My sympathy may stem from my childhood reading of Hans Christian Andersen’s heart-wrenching fairy tale The Fir Tree read it here and weep. When I do have a live tree, I always remember to leave a few ornaments on the tree when I place it on the curb. A fond memento for a happy time.

As tomorrow is the traditional day for the ancient Roman festival honoring the god Saturn, I wish you all a most Joyous Saturnalia!

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

The Red Shoes in Brooklyn

Posted in Hans Christian Andersen on December 10, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I stumbled upon a review in the New York Times last month, methodically filing it away for a future post. Alas life and school intruded.

It was a review for a new production of Hans Christian Andersen’s very macabre The Red Shoes , this production appears particularly gruesome.

Kneehigh Theatre production of the Red shoes

Through Dec. 12th 2010

I’m not sure what dear Han’s would think of this staging; but it isn’t at all surprising that this dark tale found such a bloody expression.

Although Andersen may have preferred a less confrontational interpretation,

the Kneehigh production certainly seems engaging. I wish I were on the East Coast, for I certainly would attempt to grab a seat before it closes on Sunday.

Hans Christian Andersen

b. April 2nd 1805

d. August 4th 1875

painting by Christian Albrecht Jensen


You might want to re-read his marvelous tale for yourself, it has been ages since I last read Andersen’s work, it is still quite captivating.

Although I may prefer more conventional interpretations,


After seeing the “trailer” from the Kneehigh production, the 1947 film version seems particularly insipid.

In the end, I really enjoy how our cultural heritage is so open to interpretation; this doll shocked and intrigued me, still not sure what I feel about it.


a bit of a stretch from this…

Putting this together I was thinking of my kind friend Kendra of the truly wonderful blog Porcelains and Peacocks. We share a love for the work of Andersen, and many other great tales from our childhood. I want to share my favorite  HCA story with Kendra ( and whoever else may be interested)  The Old House. It is a viually rich story of the life and death of an old house, creeky, outdated, richly ornamented, it seemed magical when I was a boy. Andersen had a special gift in making inanimate object seem sentient, because of that empathy, I became more inclined to be sensitive. Often when I am brash and self centered I remember Andersen’s tales of doomed houses and chipped mandarin tchotchke.

Have a great weekend,

Babylon Baroque