Traditions Surrounding Christmas Ornaments


For those who celebrate Christmas, decorating their home and Christmas trees with ornaments is one of the most enjoyable ways to capture the magic and excitement of the Christmas holidays. The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual that surrounded the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs and pagan tree worship. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century and was brought to England by Queen Victoria. It eventually made its way over to America.

Because of mainly Puritan influence, Christmas was not widely celebrated in the United States until the 1800s. Because of this, decorated trees did not become widely popular until people saw the ornaments brought to America by families emigrating from Germany and England in the 1840s. Some historians record that the Hessians, German mercenaries who were fighting in the Revolutionary War, introduced Americans to decorated trees.

Many unusual Christmas ornament traditions and stories have evolved from the German families. The Germany tradition of hanging a Christmas glass ornament pickle on the Christmas tree is the oddest German Christmas ornament story, some say that it is just a myth. The pickle ornament was always the last ornament to be hung on the Christmas tree, with the parents hiding the pickle glass ornament in the Christmas tree among all the other ornaments. When the children were allowed to view the Christmas tree they would begin gleefully searching for the Christmas glass ornament pickle. The children knew that whoever found the pickle ornament first would be lucky enough to receive an extra little gift and would be the one to begin the unwrapping of the Christmas gifts.

If you wish to begin a Christmas ornament tradition in your home, there are lots of fun ways to begin. There are several traditions you can begin doing with your own collection of Christmas ornaments. Here are some of the most popular.

•Collecting an ornament to recognize a milestone in life. Many families begin their ornament collection with a personalized ornament that memorializes the wedding date. Other family milestones are then recognized with subsequent ornaments like the birth of a child, a new home or even a pet being added to the family. The Christmas ornaments then become a “decorative history” over the years that chronicle the growth of a family.

•Buying an ornament for each child every year. Some families choose to begin a tradition of buying an ornament for every child in the family. This can either be a gift chosen by the parents or the ornament is selected by the child. This is a lot of fun and serves as record of the child’s growth and developing interest. Many people then choose to present the child’s collection of ornaments as a gift to the child when they leave home.

•Collecting as you go. For anyone who is a traveler, the chance to collect ornaments from other locales can prove irresistible. Many people choose to buy a Christmas ornament from every place that they travel. This collection then serves as a travel log from all the far flung places that person or family has visited.

•Collecting within a theme. Many people make a tradition out of their ornament collecting by searching for a theme. For example: if someone wants to have a vintage collection of Christmas ornaments they often spend the year searching for that perfect ornament to add to their collection and hang on their tree. It becomes a tradition to add a piece every year to the collection. This can be done with any type of Christmas ornament the collector desires.

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