The History of Christmas Ornaments


Christmas trees today wouldn't be the same without ornaments, but they were not always a part of the holiday traditions. They have changed looks and designs throughout the years, but decorating the tree has remained a family tradition all around the world. Make traditional Christmas tree ornaments your tradition each year.

Place of Origin

  • According to tradition, the first tree was brought indoors in Strasburg, Germany, in 1605. It was the first time a tree was brought indoors to celebrate. Germans decorated it with paper roses and lighted candles. Families worked to outdo each other with their decorations. Eventually, the tradition of a decorated tree indoors spread beyond Germany.

First Ornaments

  • Christmas tree ornaments began in the 1800s in English households, although not as we now think of ornaments. They first began as items easily found in nature, such as nuts, fruit or pine cones. German families began to bake gingerbread or other hard cookies in different shapes. Americans strung popcorn or cranberries into strands to string around the trees. Families in the United Kingdom crafted lace or paper into unique shapes to place upon the tree.

Mass-produced Ornaments

  • The Germans began making ornaments for mass production in the mid-1800s. Around Lauscha, Germany, glass blowers began molding glass into fruit or nut replicas. After those became a big hit, they began making different shapes, such as hearts and stars, as well as saints, children or animals.

Other Ornament Makers

  • In the 1920s, more countries vied with Germany for the Christmas ornament market. Japan came out with more colorful designs than Germany, while the Czech Republic produced very fancy ornaments. After World War I, glass ornaments began to be produced by a machine in Corning, New York. They were the first glass ornaments to be made by machine.


  • Tinsel first came into use around 1610 in Germany. The first tinsel was made out of silver, pulled very thin. It tended to tarnished quickly by the heat of the candles placed on the tree. Experiments were made to make tinsel better, and it was next made out of tin and lead. This tinsel was very heavy, however, and would break from its own weight. Tinsel is currently made out of lightweight synthetic material and is used by many people around the world.

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