In that year, the New York Board of Underwriters issued an announcement to every client of every fire-insurance firm in the Big, Burning Apple:
“Your attention is hereby respectfully called to the fact that the introduction about the premises of Christmas green, harvest specimens and other inflammable materials, such as cotton, to represent snow, and the like, and the use of moving picture machines, introduces additional hazard not contemplated by the underwriters in issuing policies of indemnity covering the usual fire hazard.”
Unfortunately, so many disastrous fires had occurred as a result of Christmas decorations – not only in retail stores where festive spectacles were common, but also in houses, churches and public buildings – that “the practical prohibition of this class of display is deemed necessary.”
So, what about department store windows, resplendent with the illuminated joy of the holidays?
Surely church transepts could swell with Scotch pine and Douglas fir?
How about decking the halls with boughs of holly?
Forbidden – so long as the decorators wished to keep their insurance coverage viable, that is.
Bah humbug! In December 1908, the insurance industry declared war on Christmas.