If you celebrate Christmas in your household, you probably have a box somewhere that is filled with sparkly balls, glass icicles, tinsel and other special Christmas tree ornaments that you bring out every year. Some people have beautiful and stylish ornaments that complement their home décor, while others have a delightful mishmash of homemade crafts and creations constructed by their children.
Have you ever thought about where the tradition of Christmas Tree ornaments comes from? How long have people been hanging things on trees in their home to celebrate this occasion?
The First Christmas Decorations
According to historical records, the very first Christmas tree decorations were used in the early 16thcentury in Germany. Martin Luther was the first one to decorate a Christmas tree – decorating it with candles to entertain the local children. During this era, Christmas trees were regularly decorated with candies, wafers, paper flowers, fruits and cookies baked in festive shapes. They were also festooned with tinsel that was made from silver and tin.
It wasn’t until the 1800s until glass ornaments became widely popular for Christmas trees. The most popular place for glass ornament production was Lauscha in Germany. Also at this time, the popular materials used in Christmas tree decoration included wool, spun glass and chenille.
The idea of decorating a tree with fanciful ornaments became popular in England around 1840, which was largely due to the influence of Queen Victoria and German Prince Albert. The popular design materials of the time were paper baskets filled with almonds, decorative beads and tiny hot air balloons.
The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree didn’t reach the USA until the 1880s. It was Woolworths, an American retailer, that first started to sell glass Christmas tree ornaments in their shops. By the 20thCentury, Woolworths had impressively imported a total of 200,000 ornaments and had made over $25 million in Christmas tree decoration sales. However, if you couldn’t afford a shiny glass bauble from the shop, you could always decorate with cut out pages from old magazines, tinsel and cotton wool.
During the First World War, commerce and manufacturing was affected. This meant that manufacturers needed to find ways to produce cheaper ornaments with new technology. This is when plastic began to be used in order to make tiny figures to hang on the Christmas tree. The new technology of injection moulding made is so that perfectly round ornaments could be created quickly and easily. It also allowed ornament makers to create a number of shapes that were previously impossible to create for traditional glass blowers. They could create intricate figures and even entire scenes, as well as the likenesses of film stars and popular characters.
The tradition of placing a large star or angel at the top of the Christmas tree comes from an old Danish tradition.
It is described in a story by Hans Christian Andersen, entitled “The Fir Tree”.
These days, it is common to think outside the box when it comes to Christmas traditions and many families don’t necessarily have an angel or a star on top of their tree. There are many funny themed toppers with unique characters on them for families that want to stand out from the crowd, although the angel and the star have still remained the most popular topper overall.
Modern Christmas Ornaments
When it comes to modern Christmas ornaments, the technology exists right now to make almost anything that you could imagine. Companies such as http://www.christmasornaments.com can make unique personalised ornaments with any name on them, so that families can order a special keepsake for a family member.
Another trend in modern Christmas ornaments is to decorate the tree with unique and fun items that reflect the personality and interests of those in the family. For example, a father might have a golf bag ornament to symbolise his love of the game and a science fiction geek might have Star Wars or Star Trek themed ornaments on their tree.
There are really no rules these days when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, so it is up to you to create a beautiful tree that you love.
About the Author
George Torres is a freelance writer and blogger who loves Christmas. He has a collection of Simpsons ornaments because it is his favourite show and his teenage son loves football themed ornaments.