On a recent trip to London I stayed at the St. Irmin Hotel, located close to Westminster. The hotel is a wonderful old “grand dame” building constructed in the 1880’s. The holiday decorating throughout the public areas of the hotel was done in a fresh and imaginative way.
A tomato red and dark lime green color scheme was substituted instead of the standard dark green and red color theme. Packages were wrapped in solid colors with contrasting wide ribbons. These packages were placed on a large round table in the lobby and on the mantelpiece of several fireplaces located on the first and second floors.
Large tomato red lanterns were also placed on the lobby table and smaller lanterns on side tables. I spoke with two women from Norway who told me that lanterns are commonly used for holiday decorating in northern Europe.
The origin of the red and green theme is thought to come from several old traditions predating the birth of Christ. In many cultures green is the symbol of life. Ancient Romans gave each other gifts of greenery. Early Druids and other northern European people used holly with red berries in the winter solstice festivals as a reminder that the days would get longer and the sun increase its warmth.