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What Is A Traditional Christmas Ornament?

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What Is A Traditional Christmas Ornament?

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most cherished holiday traditions around the world.  Every year, families get together, break out a box of beloved Christmas decorations, and create memories together.  Many of these memories form the basis of traditions passed down from generation to generation.

But how do decorations play such an important role in our Christmas experience?

The history of Christmas decorations

The idea of decorating a Christmas tree originated in Germany, where people used to add fruits and nuts to the tree after the leaves fell to symbolize the hope of the coming spring.

But in 1605 a fir tree was brought in and decorated with paper roses, candles, nuts and fruit, which was groundbreaking!  The idea of decorating a tree indoors became popular and spread throughout Germany.

German immigrants brought the tradition to the United States in the 1800s and put their own spin on it.  Early decorations were made from whatever the family had—fruit (especially apples), nuts, popcorn and cranberry bunches, paper streamers, candles, and tinsel.  They are really here to show off American creativity!


traditional ball ornaments

You know those round plastic ornaments used to decorate Christmas trees?  Well, these originated in Germany too!

Hans Greiner began making glass ball ornaments (called baubles) in the 1800s, which became some of the first Christmas decorations manufactured. In the late 19th century, the enterprising F.W. Woolworth took the idea to the United States, where his annual sales exceeded $25 million.

Eventually, manufacturers began using plastic materials for injection molding (injecting molten material into a mold), which allowed them to be produced in a variety of other shapes and sizes.

christmas star

You probably know that the Christmas stars you see perched atop trees and hanging from branches have religious origins, but do you know why?

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, three wise men (or wise men) saw an unusual star in the sky and knew it would lead them to the baby Jesus.  They followed the star to the stable where Jesus lay in the manger, and brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The stars we use to decorate our trees today are representations of the original Star of Bethlehem.


candy bar

We use candy canes for everything from tree decorations to stocking stuffers!  Candy canes are another German Christmas tradition that originated around 1670. The candy is designed to help children sit quietly during Christmas rituals and is shaped like a "J," representing the staff of the shepherds who visited Baby Jesus.

Around 1900, red stripes and mint flavoring were added.  Christians believe that the red stripes represent the blood of Jesus shed on the cross and that the mint seasoning represents the hyssop plant used for biblical purification.


Many people use beautiful ornate angels to decorate the top of their trees or hang them mixed with other decorations.  These also have religious connotations. They can represent the angel who appeared in Bethlehem to announce the birth of Jesus, they can represent the angel Gabriel who told Mary she would give birth to Jesus, or they could even represent the idea of angels guarding and protecting us.

Today, Christmas tree decorations truly represent the interests of every household. Themed trees are a relatively new Christmas trend that are catching on quickly!

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