Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seeing red...and green!

This time of year red and green are totally Christmas, but how? Before Christ came into Christmas, the Romans kept evergreen branches in their homes during winter through the beginning of January and then they would exchange branches with their friends. They would trade them to show a sign of good luck.

The Egyptians treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrived, they would bring palm trees into their homes to show triumph over death even though the palms dried out.

In medieval times, Miracle Plays were produced to convert the pagans. On December 24 the church presented The Paradise Play, the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Since apples were unavailable (be grateful for our grocery stores), the missionaries fastened apples to pine trees--they are green year round. Pine came to represent the Tree of Good and Evil, churches began incorporating the tree into their Christmas displays each year. But it didn’t stop there. Following the church’s example, people began assembling pine trees in their homes and decorating them with red apples. This act introduced two modern traditions: the Christmas tree and our seasonal colors, green for the pine tree and red for the apples.

The color green is a natural representation of eternal life, specifically the evergreen tree and how it survives through the winter season. That’s why, in Christian belief, green represents the eternal life of Jesus Christ. The color red symbolizes Christ’s blood which was shed during his crucifixion.

Now that you have a little is a little background on many of the red dishes and glass that you pull out of the cupboards this time of the year. Ruby glass is more expensive because it requires gold which is dissolved in a solution called Aqua Regia, made up of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, producing gold chloride. Ancient Romans may have accidentally discovered ruby glass. They would add scrap metal to molten glass to color it, and they may have had no idea what created the colors.

Cranberry glass is made by adding less gold chloride to molten glass than for ruby. It is an expensive and difficult process. A slight error can result in a muddy color instead of pink cranberry or the intense red of ruby glass. Modern glassmakers can buy gold ruby glass rods from manufacturers ready to use for their own designs.

Here are two Victorian cranberry glasses...

Most of the ruby seen in antique shops is from Anchor Hocking who began making glassware in the Royal Ruby color in 1938. The "Royal Ruby" name is patented by Anchor Hocking, so only glassware made by them can be called by that name. Most of the pieces in the market today were made in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Royal Ruby was also used in the Bubble (1962-1964), Classic (vertical ribbed partyware), Coronation, Manhattan, Oyster & Pearl, Old Cafe, Queen Mary, and Sandwich patterns. Here is "Bubble"...

I managed to pick up some Fenton ruby at an auction the other week. They obviously had never been used...the original price tags were still on them! That always fascinates me because I think things are meant to be used not merely stashed away...but that is another whole entry!

So, the next time you see ruby glass, you can you know it takes gold to make that color? And people will are really smart!


gail said...

Hi Susan,,, Thanks for the Christmas lesson :) I always learn so much here. I hope your having a great week! (())gail

Marie said...

Hi Susan,
I think I lost my comment so I'll try again. I love the ruby glass, especially the candlesticks. I have 2 pieces and I lust love it when the light hits them. Thanks also for the information.

Patricia said...

I love ruby glass, have a set of 12 coffee mugs and some assorted dishes. I knew about the gold for red but didn't realize it was the same for cranberry glass, makes sense I guess.
I also knew about the pine boughs in ancient times, but the apples in the trees is a new one for me. Well, now I understand the Christmas colors. Thanks!


Deb said...

Hi and green glass are so pretty and really display well at the holidays. I sold all of my Royal Ruby collection a few years ago and always miss it at this time of year.....but there is only so much a person can keep! :) Thanks for your nice comment about my new website....I've always been a little bit boho at heart and I guess it was time for it to come out. Boho style couldn't support my B&M shop either but I will offer a few things there too. I'm heading over to your website to see if you have the patchouli soap listed there.

Happy Holidays!

Lilli Blue said...

I collect the green depression glass. I have some pink as well.I love colored glass .I don't have any red but it is so lovely. When the sun shines through it , it looks amazing. Merry Christmas Susan! Lilli

Unknown said...

Susan, I love to read your blog. I always learn something new and interesting. I love cranberry glass. Don't own any, but love it! Merry Christmas, Tedi

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Hi Susan,

What a great post. I did not know the cranberry coloured glass were so difficult to make. But they are just so pretty, the colour is just perfect!

Have a great week ahead!

Pei Li

Carolee Crafts said...

Wonderful display as normal, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Susan ~

Wow, I had no idea where the red/green combo came from. Thanks for the lesson.


Cottage Flair said...

I love to read and learn from you. I did not know that about the history of Christmas.
Beautiful ruby glass (made from gold? Who knew!)

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Hey Susan,
I always feel smarter after reading your posts. Thanks so much for this lesson on ruby glass. It's so beautiful and I had no idea it was made from gold.

Susan - InHerOwnWords said...

I love ruby glass, as always thank you for another interesting lesson on antiques!