How did Christmas ornaments get their start? Well, that all depends on who is asked. This is a topic that is debated as much as how Christmas trees got their origin, along with the tradition of decorating them. Much of it is folklore drawn from fact. But trying to determine what is fact and what is folklore is difficult. The mainstream idea is that Christmas ornaments come from Germany. Where in Germany exactly, again, is disputed. It is said that in the late 7th century to early 8th century, Saint Boniface was the one who brought a fir tree to his town for his fellow Germans to decorate. Changes to this decoration came about in the 15th century. Some trees were adorned with roses in honor of the Virgin Mary, while others had wafers, nuts, various candies, painted egg shells, cookies, and small lighted candles. It was around 1610 that tinsel became a staple in tree decorating, and that has been true ever since. A fun fact about tinsel, it used to be made of strands of silver!
This tradition of Christmas ornaments continued to grow throughout Europe and finally hit the American shores in the 1840s. These adornments were coming over with immigrant families from Germany and England. For people who were already in this new world, this was a sight not seen before. Even with the Puritan’s influence, Christmas was not widely celebrated until Christmas ornaments arrived. In 1880, F. W. Woolworth decided to sell these German made items, much to his displeasure. However, ten years later, he was profiting with over $25 million in sales. Not a bad business choice by any measure.
Today, Christmas ornaments adorn the branches of every holiday tree; some are simplistic in design and others are quite sophisticated. From a simple red, glass ball to an animated ornament that takes up nearly a foot of tree space. Some sing songs, reenact scenes from a favorite holiday film, quote a famous line, or are themselves an iconic symbol from a holiday movie.
To say what the most popular ornaments are today would be difficult and would depend on the region of the world one was talking about. Christmas is one of the very few holidays celebrated throughout the world. More than 160 countries celebrate it. Some don’t call it by the same name, and some countries denote it solely as a Christian holiday for Christians to celebrate. If all were totaled, the holiday is supported in over 200 countries world-wide. That is quite the celebration!
Regarding these shores, ornament popularity is growing in the realm of personalization. It may be an ornament that depicts a person’s favorite hobby or pastime, or reflects their job, or favorite sports team. It may be that the ornament is personalized with the person’s name or initials on it. This has become a popular teacher’s gift, or the perfect present for a gift exchange. Gifts for Newlyweds or a baby’s first holiday are also quite popular. The selections available are nearly limitless!