Holiday and Christmas Ornaments – A Fun Family Tradition!
Christmas tree decorations are the most common and widely used form of Holiday decor. Incorporate them into your own family Holiday traditions, whether it be family tree decorating or annual keepsakes to begin a lifelong collection.Holiday, or tree, ornaments are beautiful, often artfully created hallmarks of the Christmas season. Helping to make your space feel warm, cosy, and festive, there’s a variety of options these days to appeal to just about any taste or style. The tinsel, twinkly lights, baubles – handmade or purchased – bring a Christmas tree to life. But, how did it begin? Tree decorations have a long and storied history, including the rapid commercialization of the traditional German items, setting the stage for the industry it’s become.
It may seem a simple symbol of holiday celebration, but Christmas decorations have their own interesting history. Tracing origins to 16th century Germany, the first ornaments were quite different than those we love today.The ‘modern’ Christmas tree tradition that we have come to love and rely on every year is understood to find its beginnings in 16th century Germany, where small evergreen trees were decorated with items such as candles, apples, nuts, and berries to simply serve as “Paradise trees” in church plays. Over time, devout Christians incorporated these decorated trees into their homes and holiday festivities. The tradition, which became a Christian ritual, spread across Europe and was brought to America by German immigrants in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was promptly rejected by American Puritanical religious groups for its historically pagan associations. While it took some time to catch on in the mainstream, small communities of German-born settlers documented the continuation of this practice, dating back as early as the mid-1700s. In the mid 19th century, a published depiction of popular Queen Victoria celebrating Christmas with her German-born husband, Prince Albert, and their family around a decorated evergreen tree transformed the practice into one quite respected and desirable by wealthy Americans. It didn’t take long for local businesses to catch on to the ornament’s commercial potential.
By the late 1800s, Woolworth’s Department Store in the United States was selling a whopping $25 million in German-imported ornaments. While initially made of lead and hand-blown glass, as time went on, the tree decorations became increasingly artful, incorporating new materials such as tinsel, silk, and wool.
Having enjoyed a good run as the premier manufacturer of handmade ornaments, Germany was suddenly competing with Japanese and Eastern European mass-production as the Christmas decoration as we know it became commercially popular on a global scale. By the mid-1930s, over 250,000 ornaments were being imported to the United States.
In 1973, Hallmark introduced their “Keepsake” ornaments, which afforded these decorations collectable value. The first collection consisted of glass baubles and little yarn figures, and each successive line of limited-edition ornaments has been unique to the year.
Today, the Christmas tree has shed most of its religious significance. Having become a fully-integrated cross-cultural winter tradition, families of all faiths around the world await that beloved time of year when they can dust off their decorations once more.