World History of Christmas Ornaments

World History of Christmas Ornaments

The celebration of Christmas and the New Year are the biggest events for many millions of people of all ages living in different parts of the world.

Most of us cannot imagine the celebration of both these events without an evergreen Christmas tree and ornaments.

When did early Christmas ornaments make first? When did it happen?

The tradition of Christmas decorations is a much-disputed one.

Historians do not have a united answer to this question at all.

According to history, Germans already had a custom of decorating a Christmas tree with real apples, nuts, golden sugar twists, wafers, pretzels, and colorful paper flowers in the 16th century.

Apples were obligatory objects used to decorate a Christmas tree at that time. An apple symbolized a forbidden fruit of the Old Testament.

Also, candles used as Christmas ornaments. They say Martin Luther created the idea of Christmas candles. However, it is just a myth probably.

The story says the first evergreen tree was decorated at Christmas in Riga, Latvia, in 1510.

People who lived in the region of Alsace, Germany, used and decorated a pine tree like a Christmas tree in 1521.

Earliest glass Christmas ornaments.

One legend says a German glassblower called Hans Greiner was the first man who produced glass Christmas ornaments. He lived in Lauscha in Germany in the 16th century.

He did not have any money to buy natural apples to decorate a Christmas tree. That man decided to make glass ornaments, which would look like real apples and other fruits.

Then other people liked his idea. And they began to order the same glass ornaments from that talented glassblower who started to blow glass ornaments specifically for Christmas trees.

Some other researchers are convinced that the first glass Christmas decorations were designed and blown by Hans Greiner from Lauscha.

However, it happened in 1847, not in the 16th century as that legend says.

He was a direct descendant of the first Hans Greiner, and he was a glassblower too.

Christmas ornaments in Germany.

Germans began to make homemade Christmas decorations in the 17th century.

The materials used to make them include, colored paper, nutshells painted gold, empty eggshells, and glass beads.

In addition, the machine for producing tinsel was invented around 1610 in Germany.

It helped to use tinsel at that time real silver was used) to make nice Christmas ornaments.

Germany and later Eastern Europe had been manufacturing Christmas ornaments for small parties since the middle of the 17th century.

There were small glass Christmas beads, silver wire ornaments, Christmas tree candles, and tinsel.

Christmas ornaments in the USA.

German immigrants and the Hessian soldiers brought the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree to Northern America in the second part of the 18th century.

This tradition spread more in the middle of the 19th century.

 Christmas decorations in England.

Christmas tree and Christmas decorations first came to Britain with Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.

Englishmen were not going to be in a hurry to copy that custom.

They were not fond of the Georgian Kings because they came from Germany.

Therefore, that tradition was not popular among Britain people at that time.

Anyway, sometime later, Englishmen adopted that German custom and began to decorate a Christmas tree too.

Englishmen imported Christmas ornaments from Germany and Eastern Europe, where these ones were produced.

However, most Christmas ornaments were still of a homemade variety.

Christmas ornaments began manufacture in England at the end of the 19th century.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized the new tradition of having a few small Christmas trees on tables, one for every member of the family.

The tradition to have several Christmas trees was the fashion until the 1880s.

Christmas ornaments in Russia.

They say that Russia was one of the first countries where they began to produce glass Christmas ornaments.

Russian Prince Menshikov founded the manufacture of Christmas tree ornaments in his estate, near the Russian city of Klin in the first part of the 19th century.

His glass-blown factory produced glass balls, glass beads to decorate Christmas trees.

Those ornaments were made in little amounts, and they were mainly bought by the Russian Imperial Court.

Manufacturing of Christmas ornaments on a mass scale.

Christmas ornaments became more widespread in the second part of the 19th century.

Glass masters from Lauscha began to blow glass ornaments.

They used mercury or lead on the inside of ornaments to make them silvery.

Later they began using a special compound of sugar water and silver nitrate for getting a similar silvery color for their ornaments.

All these glass ornaments were painted by hand.

The earliest Christmas tree ornaments were simple glass balls and beads.

Sometime after, glassblowers began making different glass figures of animals, birds, fruits, vegetables, and other glass decorations on Christmas trees.

Lauscha became the capital of manufacturing glass Christmas ornaments up to the 1890s.

Lauscha’s glass factories exported their glass decorations to England, the USA, Russia, France, and other Christian countries.

Another large center for the production of Christmas ornaments was Dresden, Germany.

Dresden’s ornaments were not glass. Dresden’s ones were embossed pressed cardboard items that were covered with silver or gold paint.

Golden and silver Dresden fishes, animals, and angel figures were very popular among people and sold well.

Another sort of German Christmas tree decoration was made of pressed tin with a colored printed surface.

It must be to mention that pressed cotton Christmas ornaments that manufactured in Germany and Russia since the 1880-1900s.

Beaded or wire Christmas ornaments got popular in many countries too.

World War I destroyed the German monopoly of ornaments’ manufacturing.

Japan had launched its manufacture of glass decorations in 1925.

Japanese glass Christmas pieces were cheap but not as beautiful as German ones.

The Czech Republic also caught the idea in the middle of the 1920s. Czech’s ornaments had been selling in the USA very well.

And over 250 million Christmas decorations sold in the USA up to 1935.

An American businessman founded a company to make glass Christmas ornament production in his home country in the late 1930s.