As the U.S. holiday season begins, there is a lot of history and meaning behind the ornaments some Americans use to decorate Christmas trees. These ornaments help to celebrate traditions and foster nostalgia.
The start of the holiday season is marked by the entrance of many seasonal staples: snow, holiday drinks, movies, decorations, and the arrival of trees decorated with colorful glass, plastic, and paper ornaments.
Ornaments have become a staple in modern Christmas decorations, and they hold history, traditions, and nostalgia within their small shapes.
According to a Frisco library article, the history behind Christmas ornaments is relatively simple to trace. Decorating Christmas trees started in 16th century Germany where they used to decorate their evergreen trees with apples. It is commonly believed that the arrival of glass ornaments can be attributed to glassblower Hans Greiner who, when he couldn’t afford apples for his tree, made glass fruit to decorate it with. The idea of glass fruit ornaments caught on in Germany and people started requesting glass fruit for their Christmas trees. Glass ornaments didn’t actually arrive in America until the American Revolution when Germans brought the tradition of Christmas trees and ornaments when they arrived. The practice didn’t really catch on, likely due to the fact that Christmas trees and ornaments were seen as frivolous and a symbol of Paganism. It wasn’t until the 19th century during the reign of Queen Victoria that Christmas ornaments became popular and commercialized.
The little bobbles used to decorate Christmas trees often have symbolic meanings, as reported by a Taste of Home article. It is said that pickle ornaments originated in Germany, though that story has been disputed. Many say that the pickle story and tradition were made up by salesmen trying to sell the ornaments.
Senior Sophie Klemp doesn’t believe the salesmen rumor saying “I disagree that they think that pickle ornament isn’t German, I think it is German.”
No matter where the pickle ornament originated it is a tradition too many. Sophie Klemp explained the tradition “Our pickle ornament is that we hide it in the tree, we don’t do the tradition, which is whoever finds it gets to open the first present on Christmas, we just find the pickle and say ‘Look the pickle!'”
People often have a connection to their ornaments. When asked, many people can even describe their favorite ornament. Senior Kellan Nichols described his favorite ornament saying, “My family has a really cute train ornament that goes around in circles if you push it, and it means a lot to me because it used to be my grandparents and I’ve had it for like twelve years now.”
Senior Greta Schmidt was able to describe her favorite ornament, saying, “My mom got an ornament from Washington state, and we’ve hung it up every year. It’s made out of the ashes of Mt St. Helen’s.”
When asked about his favorite ornament senior Kannon Klemp responded by simply saying “Franz, he’s a nutcracker.”
Ornaments are more than just little decorations for Christmas trees during the holiday season, they also hold significance, meaning, traditions, and many years of history within them.