Each year, you decorate a gorgeous evergreen with lights, glass Christmas ornaments, ribbon, tinsel, and other items that evoke the holiday spirit. But have you ever stopped to wonder why you have a Baby’s First Christmas ornament or Our First Christmas ornament displayed on your tree?
More than likely, the answer is no. You’ve grown up with this tradition, and you hold it dear, but you’re not sure why it exists. Here’s a brief history of Christmas trees and ornaments.
The Origin of Christmas Trees
Before we can discuss ornaments, we must first address the modern Christmas tree tradition, which is thought to have originated in 16th century Germany. Here, small evergreen trees would be decorated with candles, apples, nuts, and berries. They were called “Paradise trees” in church plays.
Soon, devout Christians began to integrate these trees into their homes throughout the holiday season. This tradition became a Christian ritual, and it quickly spread from Germany alone to Europe at large. It took longer to catch on in America where Puritanical religious groups rejected the trees for their historically pagan connotations. Still, small communities of German-born settlers continued to carry this practice into the 1700s and 1800s.
In the 1840s, Americans finally began to adopt the tradition after seeing the favorable Queen Victoria and her family (including German-born Prince Albert) celebrating with a Christmas tree.
At this point, however, Christmas ornaments hadn’t caught on yet.
The Popularization of Christmas Ornaments
Like the Christmas tree, Christmas ornaments originated in Germany. Hans Greiner began to make glass Christmas ornaments called baubles during the 1800s. These were the first manufactured Christmas ornaments, and they were a huge commercial success. As soon as local businesses saw how much potential commercial success Christmas ornaments had, that was that!
In the 1890s, Woolworth’s Department Store in the U.S. sold more than $25 million in German-imported ornaments made of lead and hand-blown glass each year. Soon, other countries wanted a piece of the pie. Japan and Eastern European countries were mass-producing glass Christmas ornaments to compete with Germany.
In 1973, Hallmark introduced a line of “Keepsake” ornaments that gave Christmas ornaments collectible value. Now, many people will use Christmas ornaments to mark time. For example, you may see ornaments for each year of marriage or a child’s first Christmas.
Today, Christmas ornaments may be woven, blown from glass or plastic, molded from porcelain or metal, or carved from wood or expanded polystyrene. They’re created to last and be used year after year. Most people’s collections contain a combination of commercially produced ornaments and items created by family members.
Some Of Today's Favorite Christmas Ornaments
If you’re just starting to collect ornaments for your Christmas tree, here are some great ideas, including everything from dazzling mouth blown glass Christmas ornaments to elegant handmade porcelain collectible ornaments.
Glass Christmas Ornaments
Glass Christmas ornaments add a traditional touch to your Christmas tree. While you may want to avoid glass ornaments if you have small children in the home, these can be a great addition to your tree otherwise. Custom ornaments are now widely representative of interests, including sports, movies, hobbies, colors, musicians, and more. Popular glass Christmas ornaments include Old World Christmas and Christopher Radko.
Porcelain Christmas Ornaments
Porcelain Christmas ornaments come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors & looks. Want to go with a more elegantly decorated Christmas tree? If so, consider adding some handmade and hand-painted fine porcelain Christmas ornaments, such as Lladro and Lenox ornaments. Prefer to go with a more whimsical and fun look? Check out the Department 56 Snowbabies and Snowpinions Christmas ornaments.
People collect Christmas ornaments all year long throughout their entire lives to display at Christmas and sometimes all year around. Whether you’re on vacation or looking for a baby gift, a Christmas ornament is a unique way to remember an event. Visit Annual Ornaments Direct to browse for your next gift.