“Soviet Christmas ornaments” is not the correct term to use for decorations made in the former USSR – Soviet Union.
“Soviet Christmas” sounds like” a polar bear in Africa “. The reason is simple; there were no Christmas celebrations in the USSR because Soviet Communist leaders canceled Christmas. Far more, New Year’s Eve was under a prohibition from 1918 to 1936 too. They computed that Christmas and New Year’s Eve was “a survival from past and it did harm to Soviet people”. There was a case when one woman was discharged from her job just because she had a decorated Christmas tree at home. Probably, that was just not a single case.
However, in 1936, New Year’s Eve was returned to Soviet children with a Christmas tree which was re-named to a New Year tree. A New Year tree needed being to decorate with New Year tree’s ornaments (not Christmas items). Since 1937, the USSR launched producing New Year ornaments. Of course, that is not any difference between Christmas ornaments and New Year items. Well, you could not see Soviet glass ornament angels and the Christmas Star were substituted for the communistically five-pointed red star.
The first Soviet New Year ornaments were made predominantly of cotton, cardboard, and extruded wood dust. Glass ornaments were seldom produced in those years. During the Great Patriotic War 1941-45 years (better known as World War II), no glass decorations were blown. The golden age of production of the Soviet glass New Year ornaments started at the beginning of the 1950s. There were free-blown glass ornaments as well as molding glass items. It might be good to mention that some ornament molds were brought from Germany after World War II. And really, some Soviet molding pieces look like pre-war German Christmas decorations. Anyway, the most beautiful Soviet ornaments were designed by Russian and Ukrainian glassblowers who had put their hearts and souls into thisr work.
To say ornaments stopped being hand-painted in the middle of the 1960s, is not the right statement. Some of the Soviet items continued to be painted by hand in the early 1970s also. By the 1980s, production of quality and interesting New Year tree ornaments dropped in the Soviet Union. Items from the 1980s are just a poor image of 1950-60s’ pieces.
It is possible to see the history of the whole country by following its ornaments. For example, the patriotic military theme prevailed overall in the 1930s. Glass tanks, glass paratroopers, and airplanes decorated Soviet New Year trees. In 1957, the first Soviet satellite opened the space era and Soviet Ukraine produced some glass ornament satellites dedicated to this event. In the early 1960s, the Soviet leader N. Khrushchev said “corn – the queen of the fields” and a huge number of glass corn decorations were made.
But the most popular ornaments were always characters from different fairy tales and cartoons.
Collecting ornaments are like a kind of fairy story with a happy end. May your Christmas be bright always!