My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Gothic Christmas

I decorated my study with Gothic-aesthetic Christmas decorations. As has been explained in this blog already, I don't celebrate Christmas as a religious thing, more an honouring of family traditions. It's very much a secular Christmas in our household, with the big religious celebration being Midwinter's Day on the 21st of December instead. The decorations in my study centre around the 'Gothmas' Tree - something that's part in-joke, part household 'tradition'. The 'Gothmas' Tree started when Raven and I first moved in together, nearly 10 years ago. His family are quite traditional about Christmas, and so Raven wanted to continue that. At that point, I wasn't really into Christmas very much as I came from a home where it wasn't really celebrated because it held too many painful memories and too much anxiety, it was a very simple occasion with no turkey, a very briefly apparent Christmas tree, and usually a lot of sorrow. I went to Christian schools, so Christmas was a big thing there, and I sang with church choirs when I was younger, so I'd performed in many carol concerts, and so it wasn't a completely bleak and sombre affair (and even the worst Christmas of my life ended up with me falling asleep in glittering lights of the basilica in Rennes) but it just wasn't something I felt a deep connection to, at least not a positive one. 

A photograph of Christmas decorations. The wall behind is purple, there is a black dado rail, and greyscale wallpaper of Gothic arches. There are three shelves on the right holding art materials, and the upper two shelves are garlanded with tinsel, grey at the top, iridescent green and purple in the middle. There is a 2 and a half foot tall black Christmas tree densely decorated, with a glittery snowflake on the top that is too large and leans slightly to the right. The tree is on a desk with a fake black marble work-surface. The bottom of the tree is wrapped in a Hallowe'en table-cloth of black lace. The tree is decorated in a purple and silver colour-scheme, with skulls and stars as the primary motifs; it has lots of tinsel. Behind the tree is an ornate black metal stand for a tablet computer.  There is a grey vintage-style desk-lamp on the desk.
The 'Gothmas' tree & my tinsel on my desk. The snowflake is too big, so leans
I wanted to go for a Gothic 'Christmas' that was just a second Hallowe'en (my favourite holiday, of course) so I could still be celebrating something when surrounded by the huge cultural pressure to do Christmas, but my partner is very much into a traditional Christmas. The compromise was that we'd do both; I could have my own Gothic tree, and we would have a big traditional tree in the living room, and I could watch 'Nightmare Before Christmas' and he could play old-time Christmas songs from the '40s and '50s, and we'd get together for roast dinner with the fancy black-handled ornate cutlery reserved for special occasions I brought back from Ireland. It was said in jest that my Gothic tree was so I wouldn't 'ruin' the Yule tree with skulls and bats when Raven wasn't looking because I kept trying to 'sneak' black baubles onto the Yule tree, especially when I found baubles that were very pretty but too big for my little black tree, and they are now permanent fixtures on the Yule tree (which has a lot of more unusual decorations).

A bauble in the shape of a jaggedly pointed star with many points, made of clear plastic with an iridescent rainbow finish that tends towards green and purple. The bail for suspending the bauble is two silver beads It is infront of the black Christmas tree and a dark purple wall. Bright purple tinsel is visible
Spiky iridescent bauble, I think from B&M or Tesco, on the 'Gothmas' tree

I couldn't afford a second full-size tree on that first Christmas because I'd recently been made redundant when the shop I was assistant manageress of shut down for good a couple of months previous, so I bought a small tree, to bring a spark of spooky joy into what I feared would be a very bleak Christmas in a new country where I knew virtually nobody except my partner, hundreds of miles from my family, jobless, broke, and celebrating that festival that I usually hated. Christmas that year actually wasn't too bad, and I think I managed to even continue the pattern from our first Christmas where I bought Raven a hamper of unusual ingredients and favourite foods! Ever since then, there has been the Gothmas tree - in our old apartment it used to be in the bedroom, and now it is in my study, where being purple and black it matches everything else in there as the whole room is purple and black. 

In the upper left corner is a white foil stylised skull with a crack in its temple, it is attached to black tinsel. The whole thing is ensconced in black synthetic Christmas tree branches, but only the skull is in focus
Skull tinsel - cracked skull tinsel, to be precise, from Poundland
Apart from being very short, my little black tree is quite weedy, so I fill it with tinsel - purple, black, silver, and one that's purple and black with black cats, and another that's black and white with skulls. It looks a lot bushier once I've wound it around with all that tinsel - full length tinsel meant for full size trees, too! It's about all I can do to make it a passable Christmas tree and not a sad Christmas branch instead.

A black gilltery tombstone-shape cut from acrylic, with a transfer in white stylised spindly letters saying 'Festive Fears', suspended in a black Christmas tree, with a white star bauble in the foreground, and a grey six-pointed star bauble to the left. There is skull tinsel in the background
'Festive Fears' tombstone decoration from SpookyBoxCo
Some of the decorations like the glittery stars and black baubles are just ordinary Christmas decorations - it's quite common to find purple and black decorations these days, and silver is a traditional festive decoration for anything snowy. I quite like the spiky glittery stars, and there iridescent star shown at the top. I've also got decorations from SpookyBoxCo from when I used to be subscribed. Some are black tomb-stones with spooky mottos, and some are white skulls (pictured bellow).  There's also glittery purple skulls tucked into the boughs, but all the photographs that I tried to take turned out blurry, unfortunately. 

A cartoonish white acrylic skull, very glossy, hanging in the black Christmas tree, with a clear bat-shaped LED string light, silver bead garland, purple tinsel, and black tinsel with white skulls. The shelve and lantern-styled string lights are visible in the background, out of focus, in the upper left
Cute skull decoration from SpookyBoxCo
As you can see in the background of the photograph above, the lights on the tree are bats. They glow a blue-ish violet, but all the photographs I've taken of them look purely blue. I promise they aren't entirely blue. They're Hallowe'en lights, I think probably from Poundland, but I can't be certain of that. I don't have many Hallowe'en specific string-lights in my house any more - I used to have several in my study when it had the more kitschy aesthetic, but I've now rehomed them to people who have more of that sort of aesthetic. I still have two strings of skull lights, one with small clear resin skulls, and one with blown mercury glass large skulls, but they are in our bedroom. I bought some purple bat miniature LED lights, which are on the edge of my shelves. 

The black Christmas tree is illuminated by a light that appears blue; in the centre is a lit bat LED light, it is brightest in the middle, so bright it is almost white in the photograph. The rest of the tree is very dark, much is black. In real life, the bat glows a more purple-y colour.
A purple bat that looks blue. 
The rest of the string-lights in the picture below are all permanent fixtures in my study, except for the ones on the tree. The festive period is probably the only time of the year when I have all of the string-lights turned on, although I do sometimes put a few one for things like ambience while gaming at my PC or mood-lighting for D&D. I also like to put a few on when I'm meditating, and don't want the bright over-head light or stand light. I think my study possibly has far too many lighting options, and I'm saving up to get an electrician in to give me even more lighting options, hopefully in summer, so maybe I'm just overly finnicky about lighting adjustability... The lantern string lights were originally clear plastic with brown frames and I used glass-paint to make them purple and green and nail-polish to re-paint the brown plastic frames black. The skull, lanterns and purple orb lights were all from Poundland. They run off batteries. 

The small black Christmas-tree is just right of centre in the picture. The camera looks diagonally towards the shelves. There is a Gothic arch mirror behind the Christmas tree. There is also a lamp, turned off, in the shape of a book, with a Harry Potter themed cover that says Liber Lux behind the tree. The tree is on a shiny simulated marble worktop. A computer screen is just visible on the far left, but it is turned off. There is a grey vintage-style desk-lamp underneath the shelves. The shelves are black with ornate Victorian brackets. Hanging from the lowest shelf is a string of lantern-shaped string lights, quite small - the panes are green and purple. On the first shelf there are ornate boxed of art materials and a glass skull filled with small white LED lights. The second shelf is farlanded with iridescent tinsel that seems to be glimmering in the low light. On the second self there is a string of tiny purple bat-shaped lights reaching upwards and a rack with coloured markers. The small black Christmas tree has bat-shaped lights that seme very blue in the photograph. There is a row of round purple lights running under some black dado rail; it illuminates grey wallpaper depicting Gothic arches so it loos purple, and reflects off the glossy worktop.The image is dark, it is taken at night to maximise the effect of the string-lights. The wall is visible in the upper right and it is a very dark purple. There is a Highlands and Islands region sticker for the Scottish Green Party on the Gothic mirror behind the Christmas tree.
Lanterns, a skull, tiny bats, & glowing orbs are the tip of the lighting iceberg
In both the first photograph and the one above you can see there's tinsel on my shelf. I think they're both from B&M, although one might be from The Range, I can't remember. I've got two more photographs of tinsel and I'm not writing two more paragraphs on the topic of tinsel; one is iridescent green and purple/pink, and the other is petrol grey, and they're thick with long fronds - that is all there is to say about tinsel. I think the iridescent one looks quite magical. 

Iridiscent green and purple tinsel with almost transparent fronds, against the background of a dark purple wall. The image is very busy, and the tinsel takes up most of the image
Iridescent tinsel
I think next year I will get two more strands of tinsel, so each shelf has one, as just two shelves looks a bit awkward. I'd like to get some really chunky black tinsel, and maybe some purple or some silver tinsel. 

Grey tinsel above a blurred purple bauble and against the background of a dark purple wall. The fronds of the tinsel are quite chunky, the tinsel is dark grey and metallic
Grey tinsel
Another element of Christmas decorations in my study are foil garlands, spider garlands, and a foil star. They are the sort that come flat, and you fold them out to expand them. I know a lot of people think these decorations are quite tacky, but I like them, and they remind me of Christmas at my grandmother's house back in the early '90s, maybe even the late '80s. I liked Christmas at my English grandmother's house, but she passed away when I was a child. I tried really hard to photograph the garlands, but I could not get a good angle. I did get a good couple of photographs of the star that hangs from my ceiling however. 

A star with alternating purple, silver and blue points, made of thin coloured foil, suspended in front of a dark purple wall
A foil star with silver, purple and blue
There's a spider garland that has a pretty similar concept - it's purple (six legged???) spiders made of tissue-paper strung along a cord - but I didn't get a photograph of that either. 

A foil star of alternating purple, silver and blue sections viewed from the upper right, looking down onto it, with a dark purple wall in the background and on the purple wall is the black metal frame of a former-mirror missing its glass - it is a black Gothic arch with swirling spirals and three candle-sconces on the bottom. Three glass hearts are hanging from the candle-sconces. The foil star is in focus, the black mirror frame isn't
My glass-less Gothic arch former-mirror for scale and position.
That was my Christmas decorations for 2019. If by next Christmas, I have my cornice up and sort out my ceiling (maybe with two new lights...) then you might get a half-decent photo of the garlands, too. 


  1. "It was said in jest that my Gothic tree was so I wouldn't 'ruin' the Yule tree with skulls and bats when Raven wasn't looking..."

    It makes sense to me. I do like your Gothmas Tree. Every holiday season my city has a Christmas display on our town square called "Lights of the Ozarks." Now if only I could convince them to decorate like you do. I'm not going to get my hopes up though, we couldn't even get Krampus into the Christmas parade and my efforts to get Nosferatu painted on a mural so far have been fruitless so far.

    1. If you have any space, could you put up a Christmas decorative scene on your lawn? You could do folk-traditions, etc. It's a shame that you couldn't get Krampus into the Christmas parade. I wonder if I could get Krampus or maybe a Cailleach or two in ours...

    2. Yes, anyone can put Christmas scenes on their lawns. As for Krampus, the issue was that he would scare children, and there's a state law about that. In my country, there is a common belief that there is a "war against Christmas" taking place. My feeling is that this is ridiculous. So, there more people celebrate that holiday, the better those folks like it.

  2. I really appreciate your method to explaining, I hope to see more posts from your blog. thank you!
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    1. I am glad you like my writing, but please don't advertise in my comments.


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