Day 5: The Magic of the Holiday Window Display.

The holiday season is a magical time of year; that is heralded in with the welcome sights of over the top and dazzling holiday window displays throughout major department stores and shops.

From the glitzy shop windows lining 5th Avenue in New York to the stunning ones across the pond in London or just the simplicity of local shops in various cities, towns, or villages, holiday window displays can be found everywhere this time of year.

It may not be something you think about often, but the history behind holiday window displays is quite fascinating.

Created to be awe inspiring and draw attention to their stores, holiday window displays got their start during the late 1800s. In fact, we have the Industrial Revolution to thank! Since the 18th century, window shopping was viewed as a pastime. As the years came and went, gas lighting burst onto the scene allowing shops to illuminate their store fronts which in turn drew headlines. With streets not yet lit up, the bright windows made for a stark contrast to the backdrop of the night sky. During the day, these vast window displays may show cheery scenes of the festive season, theatrical or comical scenes, or they may take a trip down memory lane showcasing the rich history of the store. When night falls though, the storefronts truly come alive as they are basked in in the warm glow of Christmas lights. After that, I guess you could say the rest is history because the window displays went from humble beginnings to the elaborate displays we see nowadays.

Early on, the window displays were simple with sprigs of greenery, their most festive seasonal products, or perhaps the Christmas tree which was gaining popularity. Today, holiday window displays have kept true to their origins but have taken it to a whole new level. From light displays and music to collaborations with designers and artists to everything in between, Christmas windows still garner for your attention as they did all those years past.

Another aspect of holiday window displays, is that they offered a glimpse into how the other half lived. They were a form of escapism that allowed passerby to forget their troubles or worries for a period of time. Behind all the shimmer and elegance though, the object of Christmas windows was to lure the shopper in so the store would make sales. This especially worked with children.

As the windows displayed the latest toys, sweets, or household items, children and their parents would venture inside to have a closer look. The stores would also have games and activities for the children in an attempt to make them stay longer. As the years passed, the store windows became more elaborate, and it’s said that in 1938 Lord and Taylor in New York created the first animated display that simulated a winter storm. By the turn of the century, shop owners began to invest a lot of time, money, and thought into how they wanted their windows to look.

In many cases, a visual head of merchandising was installed. They would have the monumental task of designing, executing, and turning the displays into so much more. Soon, the unveiling of holiday window displays became an annual event to mark the unofficial start to the holiday season.

When you travel with us here at EA Tours, you’ll have a chance to experience these magnificent window displays on your next student tour. Wether you’re visiting New York, London, Paris, or another magical destination, the viewing of windows is a popular activity for students and their teachers to do when they have free time. So whatever time of year you embark on your educational student tour, you’ll surely be mesmerized by all of the incredible window displays you’ll encounter throughout your educational tour.    

Today, holiday window displays have become so much more than a place for stores to showcase their wares. They have become a spot for entertainment and awe-inspiring works of art. Spending some time to admire these spectacular windows has become a much-loved tradition for many individuals and families. It’s a time for festive respite, especially in a year like 2020. Many department stores believe it is their duty to continue offering fabulous holiday window displays as a way to keep spirits merry and bright.

I encourage you to take a few moments next time you pass a fabulous display to think of their humble origins and where they are today. Maybe it’ll spark a little creativity in your life!

Until tomorrow,