Celebrating New Year’s Ephemera

Celebrating New Year’s Ephemera!

As New Year’s Day approaches and old father time gets ready to hand over the reins to baby new year, I thought it would be a fun time to share some antique and vintage New Year’s ephemera.  

From circa 1890 to the 1960s New Year’s ephemera was glorious. Filled with beauty, fun, whimsy, sentiment, cats and dogs, and even Mickey Mouse, it’s fun to collect, easy to display and is usually relatively inexpensive.

Come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Mall. Peruse our 100 plus booths and you just might find a cool old piece of a New Years past.  

Carol Fenn 12-2017

Christmas Mistletoe – Naughty or Nice?

 Is mistletoe naughty or nice? In 1952 the lyrics to a popular Christmas tune were “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night.” It may very well have been daddy in costume, but, if not, that would make mistletoe very naughty indeed.

1952 album cover

Norman Rockwell’s take on mommy (getting kissed) by Santa Claus!

Kissing under mistletoe is a long holiday tradition. But, the plant’s history as a symbolic herb dates back thousands of years. Many ancient cultures prized mistletoe for its healing properties. The Greeks and Romans were known to use it as a cure for many ailments.  

Antique card- mistletoe girl, holly boy

A happy tradition

Mistletoe’s romantic overtones most likely started with the Celtic Druids of the 1st century A.D. Because it could blossom even during the frozen winter, the Druids came to view it as a sacred symbol of vitality. They gave it to humans and animals alike in the hope of restoring fertility. 

Mistletoe’s associations with fertility and vitality continued through the Middle Ages. In the 18th century it had become widely incorporated into Christmas celebrations. Just how it made the jump from sacred herb to holiday decoration remains up for debate, but the kissing tradition appears to have first caught on among servants in England before spreading to the middle classes. As part of the early custom, men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe. Refusing a kiss was viewed as bad luck. Another tradition instructed folks to pluck a single berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, and to stop smooching once they were all gone.

Another Norman Rockwell with a mistletoe theme

“Plenty of berries left on this one, my dear”

As Frank Sinatra sang, “Oh by gosh by jolly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly, tasty pheasants, Christmas presents, countrysides covered with snow.” So, mistletoe. Naughty or nice? Who knows? What I do know is, it’s a fun tradition, full of history and a bit of mystery! Happy Holidays from The Mercantile!

Carol Fenn 12 – 2017

Holiday Candles and Their Many Uses

There are many different reasons why candles are associated with seasonal holidays. Long, long, ago candles were used during ancient winter solstice celebrations as a way of remembering that the light of spring would soon come. One of the earliest records of candles being used at Christmas is from the middle ages, where a large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem. 

Candles are used during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light. During the eight nights of Hanukkah each candle is lit in a special menorah.

Antique Sterling Silver Menorah

Candles are also used in the modern winter festival Kwanzaa, where a special candle holder called a kinara is used.


One of the most beautiful use of candles at Christmas are candlelight services when the entire church is only lit by candles.

Candles were also originally used to decorate Christmas trees until safer electric lights were invented!

In some parts of Ireland it was traditional to have a Yule candle instead of a Yule log.

Candles are also used as part of the St. Lucia’s or St. Lucy’s day celebrations in Sweden. A wreath of candles, worn on the head, is a beautiful tradition.

So no matter where you are, or who you are, it’s time to get out your candles and celebrate the season!  

Carol Fenn 12-2017

It’s Christmas Cookie Time!

It’s time to make Christmas cookies! Time to pull out that fifty year old tried and true Betty Crocker recipe for sugar cookies. Cookies that can be shaped like Santa, Rudolph, a star or a holiday tree.  

And with that old vintage recipe let’s hope you have some tried and true kitchen tools to help you get the job done. There’s nothing like using vintage measuring cups, mixing bowls, a beautiful rolling pin and of course, the vintage cookie cutters.

Vintage Pyrex measuring cups

Vintage birds-eye maple rolling pin

Cookie cutters. Fun to use and lots of fun to collect. They come in so many varieties and can make a wonderful display.

If you don’t already have all of these necessary tools, you need to come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway. You can browse through about 100 booths on your search for cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc. Everything you’ll need to make these delicious cookies!

***Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies***
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2 Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

3 Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet.

4 Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.   Decorate with icing, etc.

Carol Fenn 12-2017