The Symbolism of Christmas Ornaments

The glittering and sparkling of Christmas ornaments make the Christmas tree look much more magical and fun. They can be added to any decoration around the house during the holiday season, can even be used to give your gift wraps an interesting holiday look and can also be given as party favors to your guests. There are traditional holiday ornaments along with the ones that catch your eye and are a must-get for your collection. Many people keep some of the best and most expensive Christmas ornaments they have as keepsakes and collectibles and even pass them down in their families as heirlooms to be used year after year on the Christmas tree.

Christmas Ornaments first became popular around 1880 when they caught on from Germany to England. At that time, the only ornaments that were available in the market were German hand-cast lead and hand-blown glass decorations. Until 1925, Germany had a monopoly over the Christmas ornament market. Later, Japan and Czechoslovakia also entered the competition with several fancy Christmas ornaments.

By 1935, it is estimated that more then 250 million Christmas tree ornaments were being imported to America. The first American company started producing Christmas ornaments significantly only in 1939, mostly due to the outbreak of World War II. Keepsake Christmas Ornaments first appeared in 1973 as decorated glass balls and yarn figures manufactured by Hallmark. Later, they expanded to include Christmas ornament handicrafts such as bone china, porcelain, paper mache, wood and acrylic ornaments.

The variety and styles of Christmas ornaments has increased to a much wider collection every year as they have evolved into much more sophisticated and expensive decoration items. Yet homemade Christmas ornaments have also caught on as a cheaper and creative substitute, and they are often embroidered with silk, wool, chenille and tinsel to add glitter and colors to them. The underlying factor to all of these ornaments is that they are often symbolic. Here is some of the symbolism of the ornaments we know and love today.

Christmas trees from the earliest times were symbols of bounty. Early trees were decorated with fruits, nuts, and flowers. Later on cookies and other foods and candles were added. A star or angel was placed on top of the tree since both were in the night sky the night Jesus was born. Lights were added to symbolize the stars of the heavens. Legends tell us that in the 16th century Martin Luther was walking home from a Christmas Eve service in the forest when he saw the stars shining through the evergreen trees. (Others say he saw the stars reflected off the icicles). Either way the lights reminded him of Jesus, as being the Light of the World. He cut a small evergreen tree and took it home. He placed candles on the branches to reflect what he saw.

Other legends tell of poor families unable to afford decorations for their tree found that spiders had covered the tree in webs during the night. Other traditions add that either the Christ Child or the rising sun turned the webs to silver. This led to the use of placing tinsel on the Christmas tree.

There are also several modern ornament symbols that have evolved:

•Fruit and vegetable shapes symbolize the harvest.
•Birds represent the biblical messengers that bring God’s love and peace to the world. •Birds were also symbolic of good luck and good fortune.
•Pickle shapes signify luck.
•Reflectors ornaments (ornaments with geometric concave indentations) during Victorian times were often called witches eyes and were placed on the Christmas tree to fend off any evil spirits.
•Star shapes represent the Star of Bethlehem.